Dr. Coke arrived on the continent just in time to attend the first conference in North Carolina, whence he traveled extensively through different parts of the country, preaching to large congregations, and was very useful in his labors. It seems, however, that when he came to the conference in Baltimore, some dissatisfaction was manifested toward him, because, while in Europe, he had, as was contended, so far transcended his powers as to alter the time and place for the conference to meet after they had been fixed by the conference itself. This, with some other complaints of a trifling character, drew from Dr. Coke, with a view to allay all apprehensions of his American brethren hereafter, the following certificate: --
The Certificate of Dr. Coke to the Conference.
"I do solemnly engage by this instrument that I never will, by virtue of my office, as superintendent of the Methodist Church, during my absence from the United States of America, exercise any government whatever in said Methodist Church during my absence from the United States. And I do also engage, that I will exercise no privilege in the said Church when present in the United States, except that of ordaining according to the regulations and laws already existing or hereafter to be made in said Church, and that of presiding when present in conference, and lastly that of traveling at large. Given under my hand the second day of May in the year 1787.
"Witnesses: "John Tunnel, "John Hagerty, "Nelson Reed."
And with a view to guard, as much as possible, against similar infringements of their rights in future, the following question and answer were entered on the minutes: --
Question Who are the superintendents of our Church in these United States?
"Answers Thomas Coke (when present in the States) and Francis Asbury."
These things are recorded because they belong to the history of the times, and show the vigilance with which the conference watched over their rights. They show likewise the Christian spirit by which Dr. Coke was actuated in his intercourse with his American brethren; the respect he entertained for Bishop Asbury, his junior in office, in yielding to him, on account of his more intimate acquaintance with the preachers and people, the power of stationing the preachers; as well as his readiness to conciliate all by a frank acknowledgment of his error in the assumption of power which did not belong to him -- an act which was certainly more meritorious as it involved a greater sacrifice of feeling than that of the conference in passing a decree of oblivion for what had passed. Dr. Coke was, like all other men, too fallible not to err, and too good to persist in an error after being made sensible of it.
At this conference it was proposed that Mr. Freeborn Garrettson be elected and ordained a superintendent for the societies in Nova Scotia and the West Indies. This was done in compliance with the express wishes of Mr. Wesley and Dr. Coke, as well as those of many of the preachers in Nova Scotia. To this, however, Mr. Garrettson objected, until he might go and visit the brethren for one year, and then, if there should be a general wish for him to take the oversight of them in the character of a superintendent, he would comply.  With this proposition Dr. Coke expressed his satisfaction, and there the business ended; for, on account of some unexplained reason, Mr. Garrettson, contrary to his expectations, was appointed a presiding elder in the peninsula, on the eastern shore of Maryland.
Mr. Wesley also signified his wish to have Mr. Richard Whatcoat ordained a joint superintendent with Bishop Asbury; but to this the conference objected, assigning, among other reasons, that they feared, should he be elected and consecrated, Mr. Wesley would call Bishop Asbury home; which shows the high estimation in which he was held by his brethren.
This was the year in which the title of bishop, instead of superintendent, was used in the new edition of the Discipline, and has ever since been in use to designate that highest officer in the Church. Seeing that this change of name, perfectly innocent in itself, has given rise to so much controversy, by the fastidiousness of disaffected individuals, and those who have sought a pretext to impugn the motives of our first bishops and others, it were almost to be wished that it had never been taken. The fact, however, may have its use, as it has been the occasion of furnishing the friends of the Church with arguments in its defense, of which they might otherwise have never availed themselves.
But as many specious objections have been preferred against our Church organization, arising partly from this circumstance, and partly from an opinion which has been expressed by malignant individuals, that fraudulent means were resorted to in order to effect it, I shall here state some of these objections, together with such answers as may be considered necessary to obviate them.
1. He ordained Dr. Coke to this very office; and,
3.?A surreptitious taking of this title is not, in truth, chargeable upon either Dr. Coke or Bishop Asbury; for though they affixed it to their names in the edition of the Discipline without a formal vote of the conference, in 1786, Mr. Lee says, that at the ensuing conference, when the subject was submitted to them, a majority of them approved of the act, and it was accordingly inserted in the minutes for 1787, in the following words: --
"We have constituted ourselves into an Episcopal Church, under the direction of bishops, elders, deacons, and preachers, according to the form of ordination annexed to our prayer-book, and the regulations laid down in this form of discipline." Hence we find in the minutes for 1788 this question and answer: --
Question Who are the bishops for our Church in the United States?
"Answers Thomas Coke, Francis Asbury."
Here, therefore, was an open avowal of the whole business in the official document of the Church, which all could read and understand. There was, therefore, neither secrecy, collusion, nor underhandedness of any sort in this transaction.
The following questions and answers show the deep interest felt for the colored population, and for the rising generation: --
Question 17. What directions shall we give for the promotion of the spiritual welfare of the colored people?
Answers We conjure all our ministers and preachers by the love of God, and the salvation of souls, and do require them, by all the authority that is invested in us, to leave nothing undone for the spiritual benefit and salvation of them, within their respective circuits or districts; and for this purpose to embrace every opportunity of inquiring into the state of their souls, and to unite in society those who appear to have a real desire of fleeing from the wrath to come, to meet such in class, and to exercise the whole Methodist discipline among them.
Question 19. Shall any directions be given concerning the register-books?
Answers Let register-books be provided by all the societies that the elders and deacons may enter the marriages and baptisms regularly in them; and let every such register book be kept in the hands of the steward or any other proper person of each society respectively. Let one general register-book be also kept in the hands of the general steward of every circuit, in which the contents of all the private register-books in the circuit may be inserted at convenient times.
Question 20. What can we do for the rising generation?
Answers Let the elders, deacons, and helpers class the children of our friends in proper classes, as far as it is practicable, meet them as often as possible, and commit them, during their absence, to the care of proper persons, who may meet them at least weekly; and if any of them be truly awakened, let them be admitted into society.
Hitherto there had been no conference held north of Philadelphia, and, since the commencement of the Revolutionary War, north of Baltimore; but this year we find Bishop Asbury, in pursuance of his grand design of spreading the gospel over these lands, in company with Dr. Coke, coming to New York, where he says "the doctor preached with great energy and acceptance." He then says, "I rode twenty miles on Long Island, to Hempstead harbor, and preached with some liberty in the evening. I am now out of the city, and have time to reflect: my soul returns to its rest, and to its labor for souls, in which I can live more by rule."
This, indeed, seemed to be the element of his soul, to be in prayer, in which he was mighty, and in calling sinners to repentance; and having, as above related, visited this part of the country, he turned his face toward the south, traversing all the middle states, and everywhere sowing the "good seed of the kingdom." In Virginia he passed through the east end of the "Dismal Swamp," and thence into North Carolina, where he says, "I found we had to go twelve miles by water, and send the horses another way. O what a world of swamps, and rivers, and islands, we live in here!"
This year was distinguished by a remarkable revival of religion, particularly in the southern parts of Virginia. As Mr. Lee has given a very particular account of this revival, the reader will be pleased to read it in his own words. It is as follows: --
"There was a remarkable revival of religion in the town of Petersburgh, and many of the inhabitants were savingly converted; and the old Christians greatly revived. That town never witnessed before or since such wonderful displays of the presence and love of God in the salvation of immortal souls. Prayer meetings were frequently held both in the town and in the country, and souls were frequently converted at those meetings, even when there was no preacher present; for the prayers and exhortations of the members were greatly owned of the Lord.
"The most remarkable work of all was in Sussex and Brunswick circuits, where the meetings would frequently continue five or six hours together, and sometimes all night.
"At one quarterly meeting held at Mabry's Chapel in Brunswick circuit, on the 25th and 26th of July, the power of God was among the people in an extraordinary manner: some hundreds were awakened; and it was supposed that above one hundred souls were converted at that meeting, which continued for two days, i. e., on Thursday and Friday. Some thousands of people attended meeting at that place on that occasion.
"The next quarterly meeting was held at Jones's Chapel, in Sussex county, on Saturday and Sunday, the 27th and 28th of July. This meeting was favored with more of the divine presence than any other that had been known before. The sight of the mourners was enough to penetrate the most careless heart. The divine power was felt among the people before the preachers came together. Many of the young converts from the quarterly meeting that had been held two days before at Mabry's, had come together, and uniting with other Christians in singing and praying, the heavenly fire began to kindle, and the flame of love and holy zeal was spreading among the people, which caused them to break out in loud praises to God. Some when they met would hang on each other, or embrace each other in their arms, and weep aloud, and praise the Lord with all their might. The sight of those who were thus overwhelmed with the love and presence of God, would cause sinners to weep and tremble before the Lord.
"By the time the preachers came within half a mile of the chapel, they heard the people shouting and praising God. When they came up they found numbers weeping, both in the chapel and in the open air. Some were on the ground crying for mercy, and others in ecstasies of joy.
"The preachers went among the mourners and encouraged them and prayed with them. The private Christians did the same. Some were lying and struggling as if they were in the agonies of death; others lay as if they were dead. Hundreds of the believers were so overcome with the power of God that they fell down, and lay helpless on the floor, or on the ground; and some of them continued in that helpless condition for a considerable time, and were happy in God beyond description. When they came to themselves, it was generally with loud praises to God, and with tears and expressions enough to melt the hardest heart. The oldest saints had never before seen such a time of love, and such displays of the power of God.
"The next day the society met early, in order to receive the Lord's supper.
"While the society was collected in the house, some of the preachers went into the woods to preach; and while they were preaching, the power of the Lord was felt among the people in such a manner that they roared and screamed so loud that the preacher could not be heard, and he was compelled to stop. Many scores of both white and black people fell to the earth; and some lay in the deepest distress until the evening. Many of the wealthy people, both men and women, were seen lying in the dust, sweating and rolling on the ground, in their fine broadcloths or silks, crying for mercy.
As night drew on the mourners were collected together. and many of them were in the most awful distress, and uttered such doleful lamentations that it was frightful to behold them, and enough to affect the most stubborn-hearted sinner. But many of these were filled with the peace and love of God in a moment, and rising up, would clap their hands and praise God aloud. It was then as pleasing as it had before been awful to behold them.
"Many of these people who were happily converted, left their houses and came to the meeting with great opposition to the work of God; but were struck down in an unexpected manner, and converted in a few hours. So mightily did the Lord work, that a great change was wrought in a little time.
"Soon after this, some of the same preachers who had been at the quarterly meetings mentioned above, held a meeting at Mr. F. Bonner's, ten miles from Petersburgh, where a large concourse of people were assembled; and the Lord wrought wonders among them on that day. As many as fifty persons professed to get converted at that time before the meeting closed. The cries of distressed sinners under conviction, and the shouts of happy Christians, were heard afar off. Some that were careless spectators in the beginning of the meeting were happily converted before the meeting ended, and went home rejoicing in God, knowing that he had forgiven their sins.
"They had another meeting at Jones' Hole Church, about twelve miles from Petersburgh; many people assembled. They began to sing and exhort each other before the preachers came, and the Lord wrought among them, and many were crying for mercy. The preacher began to preach, but it was with difficulty that he could keep the people quiet enough to hear him at all. The old Christians were all alive to God, and the young converts were so happy that they could not well hold their peace, but were ready to break out in loud praises to God. They kept in for a while; but toward the close of the sermon some of them broke out into strains of praise the flame spread immediately through the whole house, and hundreds were deeply affected. Some prayed as if they were going to take the kingdom by violence: others cried for mercy as if they were dropping into eternal misery; and some praised God with all their strength, till they dropped down helpless on the floor.
The poor awakened sinners were wrestling with the Lord for mercy in every direction, some on their knees, others lying in the arms of their friends, and others stretched on the floor not able to stand, and some were convulsed, with every limb as stiff as a stick. In the midst of this work several sleepers of the house broke down at once, which made a very loud noise; and the floor sank down considerably; but the people paid but little or no attention to it, and many of them knew nothing of it, for no one was hurt. On that day many souls were brought into the liberty of God's children. Sinners were struck with amazement at seeing so many of their relations and neighbors converted, and few of them were left without some good desires to be converted themselves.
"The great revival of religion in 1776, which spread extensively through the south part of Virginia, exceeded any thing of the kind that had ever been known before in that part of the country. But the revival this year far exceeded it.
"It was thought that in the course of that summer there were as many as sixteen hundred souls converted in Sussex circuit; in Brunswick circuit about eighteen hundred; and in Amelia circuit about eight hundred. In these three circuits we had the greatest revival of religion but in many other circuits there was a gracious work, and hundreds were brought to God in the course of that year. To give a full description of that remarkable outpouring of the Spirit would exceed the bounds of this history. I have only given a short sketch of a few meetings. There were many other meetings not much inferior to those I have noticed. But the work was not confined to meetings for preaching; at prayer meetings the work prospered and many souls were born again; and the meetings often continued all night, without intermission. In class meetings the Lord frequently set the mourning souls at liberty. It was common to hear of souls being brought to God while at work in their houses or in their fields. It was often the case that the people in their corn-fields, white people, or black, and sometimes both together, would begin to sing, and being affected would begin to pray, and others would join with them, and they would continue their cries till some of them would find peace to their souls. Some account of this work was published in the newspapers at different times, and by that means spread all through the United States."
John Robertson and James Foster located this year.
Richard Owings had died. In the notice of his death, it is said that he was "one of the first local preachers on the continent." Before he entered the traveling ministry, which he did about two years before his death, he labored much in the back settlements; and, being a plain, honest, and good man, was very useful. He died at Leesburgh, Virginia, and no doubt rested from his labors.
The success of this year's labor may be seen in the following account of the Numbers in the Church.
Whites This Year, 21,949, Last Year, 18,791, Increase, 3,158; Colored This Year, 3,893, Last Year, 1,890, Increase, 1,003; Total This Year, 25,842, Last Year, 20,681, Increase 5,161; Preachers This Year, 133, Last Year, 117, Increase 16.1788.
This year there were seven conferences, as follows: -- Charleston, South Carolina, March the 12th; Georgia, on the 9th of April; in Holstein, on the 19th of May; Amelia county, Virginia, on the 17th of June; in Uniontown, on the 22d of July; in Baltimore, on the 10th of September; in Philadelphia, on the 25th of September.
By the division of some of the old circuits, and the addition of new ones, there were added to the list nineteen this year, making in all eighty-five; but as the names of the circuits were undergoing changes almost every year, and new ones added, it is thought not advisable to swell this history with every new name, noticing those only which were formed in new parts of the work. Two new circuits were added in North Carolina, called Seleuda and Waxsaws, and one in South Carolina, called Anson; French-Broad, and West River, in the back settlements, among the mountains of Virginia; Buckingham, Gloucester, and Rockingham, below the mountains. In Maryland, Annapolis, Harford, and Cecil were formed; Bristol and Pittsburgh in Pennsylvania; Dutchess, Shoreham, New City, Cambridge, and Lake Champlain, in New York conference.
This year was also distinguished by very extensive revivals of religion, some of the most remarkable of which will be noticed. As may be seen by the preceding chapters, the Lord had raised up a number of zealous young men, who had entered the field of itinerancy with hearts fired and filled with love to God and the souls of men. Several of these were placed under the charge of Mr. Garrettson, who was requested by Bishop Asbury to penetrate the country north of the city of New York, and form as many circuits as he could.
A great portion of this country was entirely destitute of religious instruction, more especially the northern and western parts of New York state, and the state of Vermont. There were, to be sure, some small scattered congregations of Lutherans, and Dutch Reformed, along the banks of the Hudson River, and some Congregationalists and Baptists in Vermont. It is manifest, however, that experimental and practical religion was at a very low ebb; and in most of the places, particularly in the new settlements on the west side of the Hudson River, where not even the forms of it were to be found. The following is Mr. Garrettson's own account of the manner in which he was led in this holy enterprise: --
"I was very uneasy in my mind, being unacquainted with the country, an entire stranger to its inhabitants, there being no Methodist societies farther north than Westchester; but I gave myself to earnest prayer for direction. I knew that the Lord was with me. In the night season, in a dream, it seemed as if the whole country up the North River, as far as Lake Champlain, east and west was open to my view.
"After conference adjourned, I requested the young men to meet me. Light seemed so reflected on my path that I gave them directions where to begin, and which way to form their circuits. I also appointed a time for each quarterly meeting, requested them to take up a collection in every place where they preached, and told them I should go up the North River to the extreme parts of the work, visiting the towns and cities in the way, and on my return, I should visit them all, and hold their quarterly meetings. I had no doubt but that the Lord would do wonders, for the young men were pious, zealous, and laborious."
This plan, so wisely conceived, was carried into execution, and the result was as anticipated. Many houses and hearts were opened to these men of God; and although they suffered some persecution from those who understood not their character and motives, God wrought by their hands in a wonderful manner, so that in the minutes for the next year upward of six hundred were returned as members of the Church on those circuits.
As an instance of the infatuation under which some persons labored respecting the character and objects of the Methodist preachers in that day, take the following, which is related on the authority of Mr. Garrettson: -- A gentleman from Vermont, on his way down the country, informed the people that these preachers were spread all over those parts through which he had come, and that some one had circulated a report, which many, it seems, believed, "that the king of England had sent them to disaffect the people toward their own government; and they doubted not but they would be instrumental of producing another war." Others, however, not quite as sagacious in political science, but better versed, as they thought, in theology, gave it, as their opinion, that these itinerants were a flying army of the false prophets spoken of by our Saviour, who should come in the last days, and deceive, if it were possible, the very elect! And then, again, the settled clergy were alarmed by an apprehension that they would break up their congregations, and thus deprive them of their "livings." These things, however, moved not those heralds of mercy from their steadfastness, nor turned them aside from their course.
This year Bishop Asbury crossed the Allegheny Mountains; and as it will give the reader a correct perception of the manner in which he performed his duties in those days, and the privations to which he and his companions were often subjected, as well as the reflections of a pious and observant mind, I will give his own account of this journey.
"Thursday 10. We had to cross the Allegheny Mountain again, at a bad passage. Our course lay over mountains and through valleys, and the mud and mire was such as might scarcely be expected in December. We came to an old forsaken habitation in Tygers' Valley: here our horses grazed about while we boiled our meat: midnight brought us up at Jones's, after riding forty, or perhaps fifty miles. The old man, our host, was kind enough to wake us up at four o'clock in the morning. We journeyed on through devious lonely wilds, where no food might he found, except what grew in the woods, or was carried with us. We met with two women who were going to see their friends, and to attend the quarterly meeting at Clarksburg. Near midnight we stopped at A____'s, who hissed his dogs at us: but the women were determined to get to quarterly meeting, so we went in. Our supper was tea. Brothers Phoebus and Cook took to the woods; old ____ gave up his bed to the women. I lay along the floor on a few deerskins with the fleas. That night our poor horses got no corn; and the next morning they had to swim across the Monongahela: after a twenty miles' ride we came to Clarksburg, and man and beast were so outdone that it took us ten hours to accomplish it. I lodged with Col. Jackson. Our meeting was held in a long close room belonging to the Baptists: our use of the house, it seems, gave offense. There attended about seven hundred people, to whom I preached with freedom; and I believe the Lord's power reached the hearts of some. After administering the sacrament, I was well satisfied to take my leave. We rode thirty miles to Father Haymond's, after three o'clock, Sunday afternoon, and made it nearly eleven before we came in; about midnight we went to rest, and rose at five o'clock next morning. My mind has been severely tried under the great fatigue endured both by myself and horse. O, how glad should I be of a plain, clean plank to lie on, as preferable to most of the beds; and where the beds are in a bad state, the floors are worse. The gnats are almost as troublesome here as the mosquitoes in the lowlands of the seaboard. This country will require much work to make it tolerable. The people are, many of them, of the boldest cast of adventurers, and with some the decencies of civilized society are scarcely regarded, two instances of which I myself witnessed. The great landholders who are industrious will soon show the effects of the aristocracy of wealth, by lording it over their poorer neighbors, and by securing to themselves all the offices of profit or honor: on the one hand savage warfare teaches them to be cruel; and on the other the preaching of Antinomians poisons them with error in doctrine: good moralists they are not, and good Christians they cannot be, unless they are better taught."
What has God wrought in those western wilds since that period! The above is given as a specimen of the labors of that great and good man. His Journal shows that this year, as usual, he penetrated almost every part of the country, old and new -- the cities, towns, and villages, not neglecting the remote settlements of the woods; thus setting an example to the younger preachers, and to his successors in office, of the labors of a primitive evangelist. In all the conferences he presided jointly with Dr. Coke, when the latter was present; and then he was away, leading on "God's sacramental hosts" to the grand work of saving the souls for whom Christ had died.
The eastern and western shores of Maryland were blessed this year with an outpouring of the Spirit, and many were brought to the knowledge of the truth. But the most remarkable revival of religion was in the city of Baltimore; and as this was somewhat peculiar in those days, in some of its characteristics, it may be well to give it a particular notice.
In imitation of a practice adopted with so much success by Mr. Wesley, the preachers in and about Baltimore went into the fields and in the market-house on Howard's Hill, every Sabbath in the afternoon, after the service in the churches. By this means thousands were brought to hear the word of God, who otherwise, in all probability, would never have been reached by it. Through this instrumentality a number of persons had been awakened and converted before the session of the conference in September; and during the conference many more were brought from darkness to light.
On the afternoon of Sabbath the 14th, Bishop Asbury preached in the church of the Rev. Mr. Otterbein, with whom he always maintained a Christian fellowship; and he remarks, "The Spirit of the Lord came among the people, and sinners cried aloud for mercy. Perhaps not less than twenty souls found the Lord from that time until Tuesday following." The work thus begun went on most rapidly, and in a short time there was such a noise among the people, particularly those who were smitten with conviction for sin, that many, even of the Christians, looked on with astonishment, having never seen things "on this wise;" while others, as if frightened at what they saw and heard, fled precipitately from the house, some making their escape through the windows. This strange scene soon drew multitudes to the church, "to see what these things meant," so that not only the house was filled, but many stood without in silent astonishment. In a short time some of those who were crying for mercy fell helpless upon the floor, or swooned away in the arms of their friends. But this scene soon changed. "Their mourning was turned to joy," and they arose "filled with all the fulness of God," and with joyful lips proclaimed his goodness to their souls. This had its happy effects upon the spectators, and the work continued to spread among the people, and several students in Cokesbury College were subjects of the revival. The consequence of this great work was, that about three hundred were added to the Church in the city of Baltimore.
As this work commenced at the conference, many of the preachers received a new baptism of the Holy Spirit, and went to their several fields of labor "full of faith and the Holy Ghost," and God gave them many seals to their ministry.
Enoch Matson, Adam Cloud, and Thomas S. Chew were entered on the minutes as having desisted from traveling, but they were in fact expelled for improper conduct. Their names were entered in this way probably from tenderness toward them and their friends.
Caleb Boyer, Samuel Dudley, William Cannan, Joseph Wyatt, Michael Ellis, and Ignatius Pigman were returned as having a partial location on account of their families; but who, nevertheless, were subject to the order of the conference. The following had died since the last conference: --
Numbers in the Church: White, This year, 30,809, Last year, 21,949; Increase, 8,860; Colored, This year, 6,545, Last year, 3,893; Increase, 2,652; Total This year, 37,354, Total Last year, 25,842; Increase, 11,512; Preachers, This year, 166, Last year, 133; Increase, 33.
This large increase shows the blessed effects of the revivals before mentioned, and which exerted an extensive influence upon the surrounding population.
1789. In consequence of the extension of the work in almost every direction, for the convenience of the preachers, and that the general superintendent might perform his work with greater facility and energy, there were eleven conferences this year, as follows: -- March 9th in Georgia; March 17th in Charleston, South Carolina; April 11th at McKnight's meeting house, on the Yadkin River, North Carolina; April 18th at Petersburgh, Virginia; April 28th at Leesburgh, Virginia; May 4th at Baltimore, Maryland; May 9th at Cokesbury, Maryland; May 13th at Chestertown; May 18th at Philadelphia, Pennsylvania; May 23d at Trenton, New Jersey; May 28th in the city of New York. These conferences must have been very small, and it is stated that the having so many so near together gave dissatisfaction to many of the preachers, though it is manifestly impolitic for an annual conference to comprehend a very large territory.
The following new circuits had been formed during the past year: -- Bush River and Little Peedee, in South Carolina; Pamlico, in North Carolina; Greensville and Bottetourt, in Virginia; Baltimore City was this year separated from the circuit, and for the first time a preacher was stationed in the city; Wilmington and Milford, in Delaware; Burlington, in New Jersey; Newburgh, Columbia, Coeyman's Patent, and Schenectady, in New York; and Stamford, in Connecticut.
At the conference of 1787, in consequence of its having been pleaded by Dr. Coke that the conference was under obligation to receive Mr. Whatcoat for a bishop, because it was the wish of Mr. Wesley, the minute which had been adopted in 1784 declaring that "during the lifetime of the Rev. John Wesley, we acknowledge ourselves his sons in the gospel, ready, in matters of church government, to obey his commands," was so far modified as to leave them at liberty to depart from his advice whenever they might think it incompatible with their rights and privileges as an independent Church. In justification of this proceeding it was said that the minute in question was a voluntary act of their own, and not a formal contract entered into with Mr. Wesley, and therefore without any violation of an agreement, they had a right to act in the premises as they thought proper; and more especially, as Mr. Wesley was in England, three thousand miles distant, he could not judge what was fit and right to be done here as well as those who were on the spot, and had actual knowledge of the state of things. On this account the resolution was rescinded in 1787, and a letter written to Mr. Wesley inviting him to come over and visit his American children, that he might more perfectly understand the state of things here from actual observation.
These proceedings were not agreeable to Mr. Wesley, especially as they seemed to imply an abjuration of his authority, inasmuch as his name was not inserted in the minutes. With a view therefore to remove all unpleasantness from his mind, and to give assurance that they intended no disrespect to him, nor any renunciation of his general authority, the following question and answer were inserted in the minutes for this year: --
"Question Who are the persons that exercise the episcopal office in the Methodist Episcopal Church in Europe and America?
"Answers John Wesley, Thomas Coke, and Francis Asbury, by regular order and succession."
There appears no little ambiguity in this question and answer. Did they mean to say that these persons exercised a joint superintendency both in Europe and America? Certainly not; for neither Thomas Coke nor Francis Asbury exercised any episcopal powers in Europe. What they meant to say evidently was this, that Thomas Coke and Francis Asbury acted in this country as joint superintendents over the Methodist Episcopal Church, while Mr. Wesley exercised a similar power singly in Europe, and a general superintendence in America. This is farther manifest from the next question and answer, which are in the following words: --
"Question Who have been elected by the unanimous suffrages of the General Conference, to superintend the Methodist connection in America?
"Answers Thomas Coke and Francis Asbury. 
This year was, on several accounts, an important era in these United States. The old federal constitution had been found wanting in those principles which were essential for an efficient government, and was this year superseded by the adoption of that constitution under the operation of which the country has ever since so greatly prospered, and Gen. Washington had been unanimously elected the first president. It was therefore thought advisable by the Methodist conference which sat in the city of New York at the time that the first congress assembled in the same city under the new constitution, for Bishops Coke and Asbury to present a congratulatory address to him as the public organ and head of the government. This was accordingly done. And as the author of a pamphlet quaintly called the "History and Mystery of Methodist Episcopacy," has seen fit to arraign the authors of this address before the public, and even to impeach their integrity, it is thought to be a duty which we owe to the venerable men who signed the address, as well as to the interests of truth, to set this matter in a fair point of light.
The author above mentioned affirmed that the true date of the address was 1785;  but as it was published under date of May 29, 1789, he inferred that for some sinister purpose, Bishops Coke and Asbury had altered the date, and thereby practiced a deception upon the public. This subject was fully investigated by the late Bishop Emory in his "Defence of our Fathers," and all the insinuations and false assertions of the above writer fully exposed and refuted. The following letter from the Rev. Thomas Morrell, who has recently gone to his reward, to the Rev. Ezekiel Cooper, dated Elizabethtown, N. J., August 26, 1827, will throw much light on this subject: --
"With regard to the information you request concerning the address to General Washington, I can furnish you with every material circumstance respecting it, having acted as a sub-agent in the transaction, and having a distinct recollection of the whole business. The history of it is, That Mr. Asbury, in the New York conference in 1789, offered for the consideration of the conference the following proposal: -- Whether it would not be proper for us, as a church, to present a congratulatory address to General Washington, who had been lately inaugurated president of the United States, in which should he embodied our approbation of the constitution, and professing our allegiance to the government. The conference unanimously approved, and warmly recommended the measure; and appointed the two bishops, Dr. Coke and Mr. Asbury, to draw up the address. It was finished that day, and read to the conference, who evinced great satisfaction in its recital. Brother Dickens and myself were delegated to wait on the president with a copy of the address, and request him to appoint a day and hour when he would receive the bishops, one of whom was to read it to him, and receive his answer. It was concluded that although Dr. Coke was the senior bishop, yet not being an American citizen, there would be an impropriety in his presenting and reading the address; the duty devolved of course on Bishop Asbury. Mr. Dickens and myself waited on the general; and as I had some personal acquaintance with him, I was desired to present him with the copy, and request his reception of the original by the hands of the bishops. The president appointed the fourth succeeding day, at twelve o'clock, to receive the bishops. They went at the appointed hour, accompanied by Brother Dickens and Thomas Morrell. Mr. Asbury, with great self-possession, read the address in an impressive manner. The president read his reply with fluency and animation. They interchanged their respective addresses; and, after sitting a few minutes, we departed. The address and the answer, in a few days, were inserted in the public prints; and some of the ministers and members of the other churches appeared dissatisfied that the Methodists should take the lead. In a few days the other denominations successively followed our example.
"The next week a number of questions were published, in the public papers, concerning Dr. Coke's signing the address. Who was he? How came he to be a bishop? Who consecrated him? &c., accompanied with several strictures on the impropriety of a British subject signing an address approving of the government of the United States; charging him with duplicity, and that he was an enemy to the independence of America; for they affirmed he had written, during our Revolutionary War, an inflammatory address to the people of Great Britain, condemning, in bitter language, our efforts to obtain our independence and other charges tending to depreciate the doctor's character, and bringing him into contempt with the people of our country. As I did not believe the assertion of the doctor's writing the address above mentioned, I applied to a gentleman who was in England at the time, to know the truth of the charge; he assured me the doctor had published no such sentiments in England during the Revolutionary War, or at any other period, or he should have certainly had some knowledge of it. And this was the fact; for the doctor had written no such thing. As there was no other person in New York, at that time, in our connection, who could meet these charges, and satisfactorily answer these queries, I undertook the task, and in my weak manner endeavored to rebut the charges and answer the questions. A second piece appeared, and a second answer was promptly published. No more was written on the subject in New York. The doctor afterward gave me his thanks for defending his character.
"Such are the material circumstances that occurred concerning the address to General Washington, and his reply: which you are at liberty to make use of in any way you think proper, -- and if you judge it necessary may put my name to it. Thomas Morrell.'"
"I certify that the above is a true extract of an original letter of the Rev. Thomas Morrell, addressed to me, bearing the above date, and now in my possession.
"Ezekiel Cooper. New York, September 7, 1827.'"
"To this we add the following copy of a letter from the Rev. Mr. Sparks, of Boston, to whom the papers of General Washington have been intrusted, for the purpose of making such selections for publication as he shall deem proper; in which important work this gentleman is now engaged. And for this polite and prompt reply to our inquiries, we here tender to Mr. Sparks our most respectful thanks.
"Boston, September 1, 1827.
"Dear Sir, -- Your favor of the 26th ultimo has been received, and I am happy to be able to furnish you with the information you desire. The "date" of the address presented by Bishops Coke and Asbury to General Washington is May twenty-ninth, 1789. It is proper to inform you, however, that I do not find the original paper on the files, but take the date as it is recorded in one of the volumes of "Addresses." It is barely possible that there may be a mistake in the record, but not at all probable.
"It is not likely that any address from any quarter was presented to Washington in 1785. I have never seen any of that year. He was then a private man, wholly employed with his farms.
"I am, sir, very respectfully, "Your obedient servant,
"Mr. J. Emory.'"
That the reader may have all the information desirable in reference to this subject, I have copied the address itself from the Gazette of the United States for June 6, 1789, a file of which is preserved in the New York City Library.  It is as follows: --
ADDRESS OF THE BISHOPS OF THE METHODIST EPISCOPAL CHURCH.
"To the President of the United States: --
"Sir, -- We, the bishops of the Methodist Episcopal Church, humbly beg leave, in the name of our society, collectively, in these United States, to express to you the warm feelings of our hearts, and our sincere congratulations on your appointment to the presidentship of these States. We are conscious, from the signal proofs you have already given, that you are a friend of mankind; and under this established idea, place as full confidence in your wisdom and integrity for the preservation of those civil and religious liberties which have been transmitted to us by the providence of God and the glorious revolution, as we believe ought to be reposed in man.
"We have received the most grateful satisfaction from the humble and entire dependence on the great Governor of the universe which you have repeatedly expressed, acknowledging him the source of every blessing, and particularly of the most excellent constitution of these States, which is at present the admiration of the world, and may in future become its great exemplar for imitation; and hence we enjoy a holy expectation, that you will always prove a faithful and impartial patron of genuine, vital religion, the grand end of our creation and present probationary existence. And we promise you our fervent prayers to the throne of grace, that God Almighty may endue you with all the graces and gifts of his Holy Spirit, that he may enable you to fill up your important station to his glory, the good of his Church, the happiness and prosperity of the United States, and the welfare of mankind.
"Signed in behalf of the Methodist Episcopal Church.
"New York, May 29, 1789.'"
The following is the reply of President Washington: --
To the Bishops of the Methodist Episcopal Church in the United States of America.
"Gentlemen, -- I return to you individually, and through you to your society collectively in the United States, my thanks for the demonstrations of affection, and the expressions of joy offered in their behalf, on my late appointment. It shall be my endeavor to manifest the purity of my inclinations for promoting the happiness of mankind, as well as the sincerity of my desires to contribute whatever may be in my power toward the civil and religious liberties of the American people. In pursuing this line of conduct, I hope, by the assistance of divine Providence, not altogether to disappoint the confidence which you have been pleased to repose in me.
"It always affords me satisfaction when I find a concurrence of sentiment and practice between all conscientious men, in acknowledgments of homage to the great Governor of the universe, and in professions of support to a just civil government. After mentioning that I trust the people of every denomination, who demean themselves as good citizens, will have occasion to be convinced that I shall always strive to prove a faithful and impartial patron of genuine vital religion -- I must assure you in particular, that I take in the kindest part the promise you make of presenting your prayers at the throne of grace for me, and that I likewise implore the divine benediction on yourselves and your religious community.
Though the fact that Dr. Coke signed the above address to Washington exposed him to some keen censure from some of his friends in England, because they contended that it was incompatible with his duty as a subject of the British empire thus to eulogize the American constitution and the president of the republic, yet the act itself originated from the sincerest sentiments of veneration for the excellent Washington; and the spirit which the address breathes is evidence of the most genuine piety and patriotism. And whatever may be said for or against Dr. Coke on account of the double relation he held to the two bodies of Methodists in England and America, no whisper could be breathed against the propriety of Bishop Asbury's conduct in this affair, as he had become an American citizen, was cordially attached to the constitution and government of his adopted country, was seeking to promote its best interests, and regarded the newly elected president with ardent affection and profound veneration. Nor were the expressions of devotedness to the government and its president less the sentiments of the conference, and the Methodist people generally, than they were of the venerable men who signed it. The high estimation in which Bishop Asbury held Washington may be seen from the following remarks which he made on hearing of the death of that great man. He was then at Charleston, South Carolina, and had just adjourned a conference which had been held in that city, January 1800. He says, --
"Slow moved the northern post on the eve of new year's day, and brought the distressing information of the death of Washington, who departed this life December 14, 1799.
"Washington, the calm, intrepid chief, the disinterested friend, first father, and temporal saviour of his country under divine protection and direction. A universal cloud sat upon the faces of the citizens of Charleston -- the pulpits clothed in black -- the bells muffled -- the paraded soldiery -- the public oration decreed to be delivered on Friday the 14th of this month -- a marble statue to be placed in some proper situation, -- these were the expressions of sorrow, and these the marks of respect paid by his fellow-citizens to this great man. I am disposed to lose sight of all but Washington. Matchless man! At all times he acknowledged the providence of God, and never was he ashamed of his Redeemer. We believe he died not fearing death. In his will he ordered the manumission of his slaves -- a true son of liberty in all points."
I have made this quotation, the sentiments of which seem to have been the spontaneous effusion of the writer's heart in respect to this universally beloved and respected man, for the purpose of showing that the above address was not intended as an unmeaning compliment, merely to court the popular favor by a servile fawning at the feet of a great man; but that it contained the genuine feelings of the heart, and was intended as a tribute of gratitude to God for favoring the American people with such a noble monument of his wisdom and goodness in the person of this illustrious chief, and in that admirable constitution which his hands helped to frame, and which he was now called upon, by the unanimous suffrages of a free people, to administer and carry into practical effect.
It was indeed but natural for those who had suffered so many privations through a bloody and protracted war, and had since contended with many sorts of opposition from malignant foes, and not a little low scurrility from the exclusive spirit of sectarian bigotry, to rejoice in beholding the adoption of a constitution which guarantied to all denominations their rights and privileges equally, and to see this constitution committed to the hands of men who had ever manifested an impartial regard for each religious sect, and for the inalienable rights of all mankind.
As this year was the beginning of Methodism in New England, perhaps it may be proper to give some account of the state of that part of our country, that the reader may duly appreciate the difficulties with which it had to contend.
It has already been seen in the introduction that Congregationalism was the prevalent system of Christianity established in this portion of the country. As the early settlers fled here on account of the persecutions which they endured at home, and built themselves up in a separate community, their religious and civil regulations were interwoven, so that they were made mutually to support each other. Thus churches were built, ministers settled and supported, schools and colleges established according to law; and a tax was laid upon the people, in proportion to their property, to sustain these things in conjunction with their civil institutions. In thus providing by law for their own support, they took care to guard against the introduction of other sects, as far as they consistently could, simply tolerating them in holding their meetings, while they were abridged of many of their rights. According to these regulations all were born members of the Congregation Church, and, when grown maturity, were obliged to pay their proportion toward its support, unless they lodged a certificate in the office of the town clerk that they had attached themselves to some other society.
But the Ideological creed of the country differed in some important particulars from that of the Methodists. I need barely say that the Congregationalists of New England were Calvinist: of the highest order, and, at that time, excessively rigid in their opposition to Arminian or Methodistical doctrines, professing to esteem them as heretical, and dangerous to the souls of the people. And, moreover, as there were very generally ministers established in every parish -- for the whole country was divided into parishes -- they considered it an encroachment upon their rights for a stranger to intermeddle with them. This was the general state of things in New England. Professing a system of religion which had been handed down to them from their Puritan fathers, guarded and supported by their laws, and defended too in the pulpit by men in general well educated, they wanted not motives to resist the intrusions of Methodist itinerants, who could boast little from their human learning and science, though they certainly stood high for their piety, and were by no means inferior to their fellows in their knowledge of divine things.
But with all these advantages -- and surely they were not few -- "pure religion" was not generally pressed upon the people from the pulpit. Among the Baptists, some congregations of whom were found scattered through the country, experimental religion was enforced, and no doubt enjoyed by many. But generally speaking, I believe it may be said that, at the time of which we are now speaking, experimental and practical religion was at a very low ebb throughout the churches of New England and in some portions of the country, particularly in Massachusetts, the Unitarian heresy was beginning to show itself in some of the congregations, more especially in and about the city of Boston. This destructive heresy has since spread itself extensively in Massachusetts, has taken possession of Cambridge College, and infected most of the churches in Boston and its vicinity.
This was the general state of things when the Rev. Jesse Lee entered this field of labor.  It was on the 17th of June, 1789, that he preached the first Methodist sermon ever delivered in the state of Connecticut, in the town of Norwalk. Such was the state of feeling in that country that no house could. be procured for preaching, all being afraid to open their houses to the stranger. Mr. Lee, therefore, who was not to be intimidated by such discouragements, went into the street, began to sing, and then to pray; and this being heard by a few, a tolerable congregation soon collected, to whom he preached, no one interrupting him. On the 21st of June he preached for the first time in the city of New Haven. He proceeded in his work until he formed a regular circuit, including the towns of Norwalk, Fairfield, Stratford, Milford, Redding, Danbury, and Canaan, with several, intermediate places. The manner of his preaching, without notes, the fervency of his spirit, as well as the doctrines he delivered, so opposite to the Calvinism which they had been accustomed to hear, excited much curiosity and drew multitudes to hear him; and some, he says, were brought to feel the weight of the truths he uttered. But they were by no means mere passive hearers. Priests and people, men, women, and children, from their education and habits of life, were fond of disputation, and often, after the preaching, would enter into controversy with the preacher, and especially upon those points on which he differed from the prevalent doctrines of the day. Their objections, however, were generally founded upon the erroneous representations, drawn by themselves as an inference from what they had heard, that the Methodists held to salvation by the merit of good works. This they inferred from the denial of the doctrine of irresistible grace, unconditional and personal election and reprobation, and not because that dogma had ever been asserted; for no such doctrine had ever been held or promulgated by Mr. Wesley or any of his preachers. Mr. Lee, however, endeavored to avoid, as much as possible, all thriftless controversy, by striving to direct their attention to the more important inquiry, whether they had ever been "born of the Spirit," and whether, as a consequence, they now enjoyed "peace with God through faith in the Lord Jesus Christ." The silent manner in which these questions were listened to, showed evidently that the disputants were more anxious about "lesser matters," than they were concerning "the things which accompany salvation."
The first Methodist society which was formed in Connecticut was in Stratford, which was on the 26th day of September, and consisted of only three females; but this was a nucleus around which others gathered after much labor and toil, and which has since become a large and flourishing society. The next class was formed in the town of Redding, consisting of a male and female; the former, Aaron Sandford, became a local preacher, and continues such to this day, having lived to see his children, and many of his grand children, members of the Church, with a large and influential society gathered around him; he has a son and a son-in-law in the ministry, and I believe one grand son.
The first Methodist church ever built in New England was on this (Stratford) circuit, in the town of Weston. It was called, in honor of the first Methodist preacher who penetrated into that part of the country, Lee's Chapel. It stood until the year 1813, when it was rebuilt; and the writer of this [Nathan Bangs] preached the dedication sermon in the new house, on "The glory of this latter house shall be greater than the former, saith the Lord of hosts: and in this place will I give peace, saith the Lord of hosts," Hag. ii, 9.
In the month of February, 1790, three preachers, Jacob Brush, George Roberts, and Daniel Smith, were sent by Bishop Asbury to the help of Mr. Lee. They met him in Dantown, where he was holding a quarterly meeting in a house of worship not yet finished -- which was the second built in the country. The coming of these brethren was a great comfort to Mr. Lee, and they strengthened each other's hands in the Lord. During the preaching on Sabbath, the power of the Lord was so manifested that many cried aloud for mercy, a thing so unusual in that part of the country that some were very much alarmed, and fled from the house in consternation, and others who were in the gallery jumped out on the ground. In the midst, however, of the confusion occasioned by these movements, those who had an experience of divine things rejoiced with exceeding great joy.
Notwithstanding the exterior respect which was paid to religion in this "land of steady habits," the coming of the Methodist preachers excited no little opposition. They were generally called by the settled clergy, "wolves in sheep's clothing," the "false prophets who should come in the latter day," &c., and hence the people felt themselves at liberty to ridicule and persecute them in a variety of ways. As many in the pulpit harangued their people in opposition to those "itinerating peddlers of a false doctrine," as they were sometimes called in derision, the people caught the spirit, and echoed back upon them the opprobrious epithet, mingling with their jeers such unruly conduct as often disturbed them in their solemn assemblies. Hence they have been known to roll stones into the houses where they were assembled in the time of worship, and otherwise interrupt their devotions. These things, however, disheartened not these messengers of mercy in their work, nor impeded their progress in their endeavors to evangelize the people.
The writer of this [Nathan Bangs] remembers perfectly well, when but a boy, of hearing the remarks which were made by some of the people on returning one evening from hearing a Methodist preacher. The wonder was whence they came! They finally concluded, as they had come up from the south, that they were a set of broken merchants, who, having become poor, and being too lazy to work, had taken to this method of preaching to procure a livelihood. I have mentioned this circumstance to show the ignorance which prevailed among the people generally in respect to the character and objects of those primitive Methodist preachers, and as an apology for the treatment they met with from the thoughtless and the gay. Good impressions, however, were made upon many minds, and Bishop Asbury, speaking of the commencement of his work, says, "New England stretcheth out the hand to our ministry, and I trust shortly will feel its influence. My soul shall praise the Lord."
The revival noticed as having begun last year in Baltimore and in some parts of Maryland, went forward with great rapidity this year; and in Baltimore more particularly, Mr. Lee says it exceeded any thing which had been witnessed before. Such was the power which attended the word preached that some of the greatest revilers of the work were constrained to bow to its influence, and to confess that God was indeed is the midst of his people. The following is his own account of this work: --
"Some, were two, three, or four hours on their knees; others were prostrate on the floor, most earnestly agonizing for mercy, till they could rejoice in God their Saviour! "What power! what awe rested on the people!
"Some, after they went home, could not sleep, but wept and prayed all night. The next day was such a time as cannot be sufficiently described.
"Early in the morning, a preacher was sent for to visit a young woman who was under conviction. He exhorted her to believe in the Lord Jesus, and then sung and prayed with her.
"A considerable number of the members of society were collected to supplicate the throne of grace in her behalf. At last the Lord suddenly shed abroad his love in her heart, so that she lifted up her voice with others in loud praises to God.
"This was only a small part of that day's work. About ten in the morning, a company of mourners assembled together at a private house, where the work of conversion began. First one, and then another, entered into the liberty of the children of God. The news spread; the people collected till the house and street were filled with a crowd of believers, and a wondering multitude: and this continued without intermission till night. They then repaired to the church, which was presently filled, and they continued there until two o'clock the next morning before they broke up.
"Some who came there quite careless, and indeed making derision of the whole, were converted before they returned. Many hard-hearted opposers were conquered at last, and earnestly sought salvation.
"At the same time the country circuits throughout Maryland seemed to flame with holy love. On the eastern shore there was a powerful work; hundreds in different parts were turning to God."
Dr. Coke arrived again on the continent this year, and after attending some of the conferences, traveled extensively through different parts of the country, and was made a blessing to many. Speaking of the conference which assembled in North Carolina, Bishop Asbury says, "We opened our conference, and were blessed with peace and union; our brethren from the west met us, and we had weighty matters for consideration before us."
But the glorious work which was breaking forth in every direction was much aided by the energetic labors of Bishop Asbury, who traversed almost every part of the continent, preaching and setting things in order. This year he followed in the track which had been marked out by Mr. Garrettson the preceding year, up the North River, through Dutchess county, surveying the length and breadth of the land, and in the midst of all his labors and bodily sufferings he exclaims, "My soul is so filled with God, that it appears as if all sense of pain was suspended by the power of faith." Thence he went south, through New Jersey, Pennsylvania, and Maryland, and witnessed the glorious revival which was going on in Baltimore. Under date of September 8, 1789, he says, --
"I preached in town and at the Point. The last quarterly meeting was a wonder-working time. Fifty or sixty souls were then and there brought to God. People were daily praying to God from house to house; some crying for mercy, others rejoicing in God, and not a few, day after day, joining in society for the benefit of Christian fellowship. Praise the Lord, O my soul! I spent some time in visiting from house to house, and in begging for the college. The married men and the single men, the married women and single women, I met apart, and was comforted. Many of the children of the Methodists are the happy subjects of this glorious revival. We have more members in Baltimore (town and Point) than in any city or town on the continent besides."
He did not, however, remain long pent up in the city, for under date of the 28th of this month we find him at Bush Forest Chapel, in the neighborhood of Abingdon, where he makes the following remarks "This was one of the first houses that were built for the Methodists in the state of Maryland, and one of the first societies was formed here. They had been dead for many years; -- of late the Lord has visited the neighborhood, and I suppose, from report, fifty souls have been converted to God."
The work of God also extended in many places within the bounds of the new district formed last year by Mr. Garrettson. Mr. Philip Embury,  who had been instrumental in founding the little society in the city of New York, after the arrival of the regular preachers in that city, moved to Ashgrove, and collected a small society in that place, chiefly of emigrants from Ireland. Before the time of which we now speak, they had made several attempts to obtain the aid of traveling preachers, but did not succeed until 1788, when, in answer to a petition to the conference, Mr. Garrettson sent Mr. Lemuel Green to their help. He brought the society under disciplinary regulations, and likewise extended his labors with good effect into the adjoining settlements. Thus this society at Ashgrove may be considered as the center of Methodism in all that region of country.
Long Island also, in the state of New York, was more particularly provided for this year. We have already seen that Captain Webb visited some towns on this island, as early as 1768, and many sinners were awakened under his powerful appeals to their consciences. The political troubles, however, which arose out of the War of the Revolution, had a most deleterious effect upon the religion and morals of the Long Islanders. The British army had the island in possession for several years, and many were the skirmishes, after the memorable battle upon Brooklyn heights, between the contending forces; and the people were perpetually harassed with the depredations committed upon their property by both of the belligerents. On the return of peace, however, the people began to long for the ordinances of religion, and as early as 1784 Mr. Philip Cox was stationed on Long Island; he found a number who remembered the preaching of Captain Webb. He was succeeded by the Rev. Ezekiel Cooper, whose faithful and able ministry was made a blessing to many. Messrs. Thomas Ware, Peter Moriarty, and Robert Cloud followed Mr. Cooper, and their evangelical efforts were crowned with success. This year, 1789, Messr,. William Phoebus and John Lee were stationed here, and Long Island formed a part of the New York district.
Long Island has become somewhat famous as being the birthplace of Elias Hicks, the celebrated Quaker preacher, whose peculiar notions in religion, and his zealous manner of propagating them, have been a means of dividing that peaceable denomination, and, it is to be feared, of poisoning the minds of many with very erroneous views of Christianity. These notions, coming so directly in contact with some of the fundamental principles of Methodism, particularly as respects the deity and atonement of Christ, and the ordinances of baptism and the Lord's supper, were no small impediments in the way of those Methodist preachers who first labored here. The Lord of the harvest, however, was with them, and gave them access to the understandings and consciences of the people, so that at this time there were upward of two hundred members in the several societies on Long Island.
That God exercises a particular providence over his people, and grants to them blessings in answer to their prayers, is abundantly attested in the holy Scriptures, as well as by the experience and testimony of his servants, in all ages of his church. Those who affect to question this doctrine if they profess faith in divine revelation, would do well to remember that they thereby impeach the veracity of the divine promises, and render ineffectual even the fervent prayers of the righteous. God has said, "Ask, and be given" He also declares that "his ears are open and attentive to the prayers of the righteous." And will he not fulfil his promise to those who pray in faith? He certainly will -- else his promise is vain, and prayer is useless.
The following narrative respecting the introduction of Methodism into Southold, Long Island, strikingly illustrates the truth of the above remarks, and evinces that the good hand of the Lord is ever with his people. It Is related on the best authority: --
In 1794, a Mrs. Moore, who had been converted by the instrumentality of the Methodists, removed to Southold. Being destitute of a spiritual ministry, she united with two other females of a like spirit with herself every Monday evening in holding a prayer meeting, in which they prayed especially that God would send them a faithful minister. Twice they met at the house of a Mr. Vail, who, though not a professor of religion, was willing that the meeting should be held in his house, as his wife was one of the three, engaged in this pious work. A circumstance occurring one evening which caused them to omit their social meeting, each one retired to her own house, determined to pour out the desire of their souls to God that the primary object of their prayers, namely, the gift of a faithful preacher, might be granted them. During the exercises of this evening they felt an unusual spirit of prayer; but more particularly Mrs. Moore, who continued in strong prayer until near midnight, when she received an assurance that God had heard them, by the following word being deeply impressed upon her mind: -- "I have heard their cry, and am come down to deliver them:" and so strong was the conviction upon her mind that she praised God for what she believed he would most assuredly do.
At this very time, Wilson Lee, one of the early Methodist preachers, was at New London, Connecticut, and had put his trunk on board of a vessel with a view to go to his appointment in New York: Contrary wind prevented his departure on the same night in which these pious females were praying in their separate apartments on Long Island, for God to send them a "shepherd after his own heart," this man of God, detained by contrary winds in New London, felt an unusual struggle of mind for the salvation of souls, attended with a vivid and powerful impression that it was his duty to cross the Sound and go to Long Island. Powerful, indeed, was this impression, that though he tried to resist it, he at length resolved that if a way opened he would proceed. On going to the wharf next morning, he found, to his surprise, a sloop ready to sail for Southold, and without farther hesitancy he immediately embarked and on landing, in answer to his inquiries, was conducted to the house of Mrs. Moore. On seeing him approach the house, and recognizing him from his appearance for a Methodist preacher, though a total stranger, she ran to the door, and saluted him in the following words: -- "Thou blessed of the Lord, come in!" They mutually explained the circumstances above narrated, and rejoiced together, "for the consolation." A congregation was soon collected, to whom Mr. Lee preached with lively satisfaction. God blessed his labors -- a class was formed, and from that, period the Methodists continued, with various degrees of prosperity, in Southold, and gradually spread through the length and breadth of the island.
Having thus noticed the progress of the work of religion in different parts of the country, let us return to the doings of the conference. In consequence of the extension of the work on every hand, spreading over such a large territory, there were two difficulties which arose in the way of proceeding in the manner they had done heretofore.1. It was very inconvenient for all the members of the conference to assemble together in one place to transact their business. Hence, as we have already seen, the bishops had appointed several separate conferences for the dispatch of their ordinary affairs.2. But any thing which was done in these separate conferences was not binding, except simply the ordinations and stationing the preachers, unless sanctioned by them all. And as this could rarely be expected, constituted as human nature is, it was plainly seen that there was danger of their falling to pieces, or of having divers administrations. To provide against this evil, and to remedy the inconvenience above mentioned, it was determined this year, as the best thing which could be devised, to have a council, for the reasons and purposes, and with the powers set forth in the following questions and answers: --
Question Whereas the holding of general conferences on this extensive continent would be attended with a variety of difficulties, and many inconveniences to the work of God; and whereas we judge it expedient that a council should be formed of chosen men out of the several districts as representatives of the whole connection, to meet at stated times; in what manner is this council to be formed, what shall be its powers, and what farther regulations shall be made concerning it?
1st. Our bishops and presiding elders shall be the members of this council; provided, that the members who form the council be never fewer than nine. And if any unavoidable circumstance prevent the attendance of a presiding elder at the council, he shall have authority to send another elder out of his own district to represent him; but the elder so sent by the absenting presiding elder shall have no seat in the council without the approbation of the bishop, or bishops, and presiding elders present. And if, after the above-mentioned provisions are complied with, any unavoidable circumstance, or any contingencies, reduce the number to less than nine, the bishop shall immediately summon such elders as do not preside, to complete the number.
2dly. These shall have authority to mature every thing they shall judge expedient.
1. To preserve the general union:
3dly. Provided nevertheless, that nothing shall be received as the resolution of the council, unless it be assented to unanimously by the council; and nothing so assented to by the council shall be binding in any district till it has been agreed upon by a majority of the conference which is held for that district.
4thly. The bishops shall have authority to summon the council to meet at such times and places as they shall judge expedient.
5thly. The first council shall be held at Cokesbury, on the first day of next December."
Mr. Asbury gives the following account of the first meeting of the council: --
"Thursday, December 4. Our council was seated, consisting of the following persons, viz.: Richard Ivey, from Georgia; R. Ellis, South Carolina; E. Morris, North Carolina; Phil. Bruce, north district of Virginia; James O'Kelly, south district of Virginia; L. Green, Ohio; Nelson Reid, western shore of Maryland; J. Everett, eastern shore; John Dickens, Pennsylvania; J. O. Cromwell, Jersey; and Freeborn Garrettson, New York; all our business was done in love and unanimity. The concerns of the college were well attended to, as also the printing business. We formed some resolutions relative to economy and union, and others concerning the funds for the relief of our suffering preachers on the frontiers. We rose on the eve of Wednesday following. During our sitting, we had preaching every night; some few souls were stirred up, and others converted. The prudence of some had stilled the noisy ardor of our young people; and it was difficult to rekindle the fire. I collected about ?28 for the poor suffering preachers in the west. We spent one day in speaking our own experiences, and giving an account of the progress and state of the work of God in our several districts; a spirit of union pervaded the whole body; producing blessed effects and fruits."
This shows the purity of mind by which those were actuated to whom the affairs of the Church were at that time committed. But though the preachers generally voted for the plan when it was submitted to them by the bishops, dissatisfaction soon sprang up in their minds in reference to it, on account of its being dangerous, as they thought, to their liberties. It was contended that as the council was composed of the bishops and presiding elders, and as the latter were appointed by the bishops, and changed at their pleasure, it was virtually concentrating all the authority of the Church in the hands of the bishops, and thus creating an aristocracy of power incompatible with the rights and privileges of the entire body.
There was, moreover, one clause in the laws which were to control them, which went to nullify their proceedings, and frustrate the very design for which the council was constituted. It was in these words "Nothing unanimously assented to by the council shall be binding in any district, till it has been agreed upon by a majority of the conference which is held for that district." Such a regulation, every one must perceive, tended to a dilution of the body, by introducing dissensions: for it could not be expected that so many independent bodies, acting separately, should entirely agree in many important particulars. Such, accordingly, was the opposition manifested to the organization of this council, that it assembled only twice, and therefore it seems unnecessary to give a detailed account of its proceedings. But though it had but an ephemeral existence, it evinced the necessity more strikingly than ever of an organization which should concentrate the power of the Church in some body which might exercise it with prudence for the general harmony of ministers and people; and this was afterward provided for in a General Conference, which should meet once in four years, at such time and place as might be agreed upon.
This year I find the first mention made of a book steward. And as the printing and circulating of religious books forms a very important feature in the economy of our Church, this seems the most proper place to give some account of this establishment.
Among the means adopted by Mr. Wesley for the diffusion of gospel truth and holiness, and for guarding his people against erroneous doctrines, was that of printing and circulating books; hence he established a press under his own control. Here his own works, and those he extracted from others, were printed; and they were distributed by his preachers as extensively as possible among the people. Whatever profits might arise from the sale of these books were to be appropriated to charitable purposes, and to assist in spreading the gospel by means of an itinerant ministry. The establishment thus begun by Mr. Wesley, has been carried on by the Wesleyan Methodists in England to this day; and has been one of the most powerful auxiliaries in promoting the cause of Christ by that body of ministers.
In 1778 Mr. Wesley commenced the publication of the Arminian Magazine, a periodical filled with various sorts of information, containing a museum of divinity and a great variety of miscellaneous reading. It has been continued, greatly enlarged, since his death to this day, now called the Wesleyan Methodist Magazine, making in all sixty large volumes.
In the early history of Methodism in this country, the preachers were supplied with books from England. But this method of procuring supplies became troublesome and expensive, which led to the establishment of a similar agency here, for the supply of the people in useful knowledge. By a reference to the books of the agency, in the handwriting of John Dickens, who was the first book-steward, it appears that the first book printed was "A Kempis." This entry is dated August 17, 1789. The first volume of the Arminian Magazine was published the same year, also the Hymnbook, Saints' Rest, and Primitive Physic.
I merely notice this here, intending hereafter to devote a chapter to a complete history of this institution, its objects, and the influence it has exerted on the community.
Robert Ayers and William Patridge desisted from traveling this year.
The following preachers had died: --
Numbers in the Church: Whites This year, 35,019, Last year, 30,809; Increase, 4,210; Colored This year, 8,243, Last year 6,545; Increase, 1,698; Total This year, 43,262, Last year, 37,354; Increase, 5,908; Preachers This year, 196, Last year, 166; Increase, 30.
1790. The following conferences were held this year: -- February 15th, in Charleston, South Carolina; March 2d, in Georgia; April 26th, in Kentucky; May 17th, in Holstein; May 24th, in North Carolina; June 14th, Lane's Church; July 29th, in Uniontown, Pennsylvania; August 26th, in Leesburgh, Virginia; September 6th, in Baltimore, Maryland; September 11th, in Cokesbury, Maryland; September 16th, at Duck Creek; September 22d, in Philadelphia; September 28th, in Burlington, New Jersey; October 4th, in New York.
Twenty new circuits were added to the list, as follows: -- Savannah, Savannah Town, and Catawba, in the southern part of the work; Lexington, Limestone, Madison, Russel, Green, and Lincoln, in the western country; Contentney, in the lower part of North Carolina; Surry, in the South of Virginia; Stafford and Kanawha, in the northern part of the state; South River, in Maryland; Bethel and Randolph, in New Jersey; New Haven, Hartford, and Litchfield, in Connecticut; and Boston, in Massachusetts.
We find the following question and answer in the minutes of this year: --
Question What can be done in order to instruct poor children, white and black, to read?
"Answers Let us labor, as the heart and soul of one man, to establish Sunday schools in or near the place of public worship. Let persons be appointed by the bishops, elders, deacons, or preachers, to teach, gratis, all that will attend and have a capacity to learn, from six o'clock in the morning till ten, and from two o'clock in the afternoon till six, where it does not interfere with public worship. The council shall compile a proper schoolbook, to teach them learning and piety.
This is the first account we have of Sabbath schools in this country; and they appear to have been established chiefly for the instruction of children, whether white or black, who had not the advantages of day schools. It was found, however, on experiment, that it was extremely difficult to induce those children to attend the schools, and in a short time the teachers, who had tendered their services gratuitously, became discouraged, and the schools were discontinued.
Such schools had been in successful operation in England for several years, were warmly patronized by Mr. Wesley, his preachers and people, and were exerting a salutary influence on the poorer part of the rising generation. In this country, it seems, the Methodists at that time were alone in their efforts to introduce this mode of instruction among the children and youth of their congregations; and hence, not succeeding according to their wishes, prematurely laid it aside. They scarcely thought, it is presumed, that this practice would thereafter be so generally adopted as it since has been, by Christian denominations, and become such an integral part of religious instruction. May it never be discontinued, until the whole population of our globe shall become imbued with the light and power of Christianity!
This year was also distinguished by several powerful revivals of religion. Speaking of the conference which was held in Charleston, South Carolina, Bishop Asbury says, "I have felt fresh springs of desire in my soul for a revival of religion. O may the work be general;" and then remarks that, after preaching, "extracts from sundry letters from New York and Baltimore were read in the congregation, at which saints and sinners were affected."
After the close of the conference he set off on a journey to Kentucky, which was then a comparative wilderness. In this tour he crossed the Allegheny Mountains, which, in some places, he says, "were rising before him like the roof of a house." "Those who wish," he adds, "to know how rough it is, may tread in our path. What made it worse to me was, that while I was looking to see what had become of my guide, I was carried off with full force against a tree that hung across the road some distance from the ground, and my head received a very great jar, which, however, was lessened by my having on a hat that was strong in the crown." After pushing their way rough the wilderness, often having to swim the creeks with their horses, sleep in log huts, or encamp in the woods, he makes the following entry in his Journal: -- "From December 14, 1789, to April 20, 1790, we compute to have traveled two thousand five hundred and seventy-eight miles. Hitherto has the Lord helped. Glory! glory to our God!" And the reader will recollect that neither steamboats nor railroads were in use in those days; but they were forced to wend their way through the new settlements in the best way they could, chiefly on horseback. As to the preachers who traveled this rough and poor country, they had to submit to all manner of hardships, so that Bishop Asbury says of them, "I found the poor preachers indifferently clad, with emaciated bodies, and subject to hard fare; but I hope they are rich in faith."
That the reader may see the difficulties with which these primitive Methodist preachers had to contend, as well as the hardships and privations they endured, the following extracts from Bishop Asbury's Journal are given: --
After crossing the Kentucky River he says, --
"I was strangely outdone for want of sleep, having been greatly deprived of it in my journey through the wilderness, which is like being at sea in some respects, and in others worse. Our way is over mountains, steep hills, deep rivers, and muddy creeks; a thick growth of reeds for miles together, and no inhabitants but wild beasts and savage men. Sometimes, before I was aware, my ideas would be leading me to be looking out ahead for a fence, and I would, without reflection, try to recollect the houses we should have lodged at in the wilderness. I slept about an hour the first night, and about two the last. We ate no regular meal; our bread grew short, and I was very much spent."
Bishop Asbury stopped at the house of a gentleman whose wife, he says, "a tender, gracious soul, was taken a prisoner by the Indians during the last war, and carried to Detroit." He then adds, "I saw the graves of the slain -- twenty-four in one camp. I learn that they had set no guard, and that they were up late playing at cards. A poor woman of the company had dreamed three times that the Indians had surprised and killed them all: she urged her husband to entreat the people to set a guard, but they only abused him and cursed him for his pains. As the poor woman was relating her last dream the Indians came upon the camp: she and her husband sprang away, one east, the other west, and escaped. He afterward came back, and witnessed the carnage. These poor sinners appeared to be ripe for destruction. I received another account of the death of another wicked wretch who was shot through the heart, although he had vaunted with horrid oaths that no Creek Indian could kill him. These are some of the melancholy accidents to which the country is subject for the present."
This shows the jeopardy to which those were often exposed who traversed this newly settled country in quest of immortal souls, and the intrepidity displayed in encountering these "perils by land," by those who first penetrated these western wilds as heralds of peace and good will. In Lexington, Bishop Asbury met the preachers in conference, the business which, he says, they "went through with in great love and harmony." They had preaching at "noon and night, souls were converted, and the fallen restored. My soul," he adds, "has been blessed among these people, and I am exceedingly pleased with them. I would not, for the worth of all the place, have been prevented in this visit, having no doubt but that it will be for the good of the present and rising generation. It is true, such exertions of mind and body are trying; but I am supported under it if souls are saved, it is enough."
At this conference a plan was devised for a district school, and three hundred dollars were subscribed, in land and money for its establishment. The school afterward went into operation, but for want of adequate support was finally discontinued. After visiting some places on the west of the mountains, Bishop Asbury set off on his return to the Atlantic slates. The following is his own account of the manner in which this tedious journey was performed: --
"Monday 24. We set out on our return through the wilderness with a large and helpless company; we had about fifty people, twenty of whom were armed, and five of whom might have stood fire. To reserve order and harmony, we had articles drawn up for, and signed by our company, and I arranged the people for traveling according to the regulations agreed upon. Some disaffected gentlemen, who would neither sign nor come under discipline, had yet the impudence to murmur when left behind. The first night we lodged some miles beyond the hazelpatch. The next day we discovered signs of Indians, and some thought they heard voices; we therefore thought it best to travel on, and did not encamp until three o'clock, halting on the east side of Cumberland River. We had gnats enough. We had an alarm, but it turned out to be a false alarm. A young gentleman, a Mr. Alexander, behaved exceedingly well; but his tender frame was not adequate to the fatigue to be endured, and he had well nigh fainted on the road to Cumberland Gap. Brother Massie was captain; and finding I had gained authority among the people, I acted somewhat in the capacity of an adjutant and quarter-master among them. At the foot of the mountain the company separated; the greater part went on with me to Powell's River; here we slept on the earth, and next day made the Grassy Valley. Several of the company, who were not Methodists, expressed their high approbation of our conduct, and most affectionately invited us to their houses. The journeys of each day were as follows: Monday, forty-five miles; Tuesday, fifty miles; Wednesday, sixty miles."
From this time Bishop Asbury traveled very extensively through the several states where Methodist societies had been established, and contributed much by his labors to promote the work of God, which was extending powerfully in many places, and particularly in some parts of New England, under the labors of the Rev. Jesse Lee and his helpers.
This year Methodism was introduced into the city of Boston. It is true, that about eighteen years previous to this time, Mr. Boardman had visited Boston, and formed a small society; but as he was not succeeded by any minister of the same order, the society gradually diminished, and finally became extinct. Mr. Garrettson had also passed through Boston, on his way from Nova Scotia, and preached a few sermons in a private house; but no society had been formed by him. On the arrival of Mr. Lee, no house could be procured for preaching; he therefore went upon the Common, stood upon a table, and began to sing and pray. When he commenced there were only four persons present; but before he had concluded there had collected, as he thought, not less than three thousand. The word preached had an effect upon the minds of a few who attended, so that on the next Sabbath, at the same place, the number of hearers was greatly increased; and a way was thus opened for the establishment of a small society in the town of Boston. It is an evidence, however, of the determined opposition which was felt here to Methodism, that Mr. Lee was in the city for about a week, using every means in his power to procure a house to preach in, but was denied in every instance in which he made application either publicly or privately, and was finally forced either to abandon the place without preaching at all, or to go on to the Common. Here, therefore, he set up his banner in the name of the Lord, and many have since, though not without much hard toiling and many privations, flocked around it.
While in Boston, Mr. Lee received an invitation from a gentleman in Lynn, about ten miles from Boston, for him to visit that place. This gentleman, a Mr. Benjamin Johnson, had heard Methodist preaching about twenty years before, in one of the southern states. Mr. Lee was, therefore, very cordially received, and he soon found himself among "a people prepared of the Lord" to embrace the pure doctrines of Jesus Christ. After giving an account of a sermon he had delivered at Mr. Lye's, at Wood End, he says, --
"I felt great enlargement of heart, and much of the divine presence, while I was warning the people not to be deceived. The presence of God was in the assembly, and some of the hearers appeared to be greatly lifted up in love and thankfulness. O! that God may continue the serious impressions in their minds, till they are brought to the knowledge of God. I have not met with a company of people for a long time that had so much of the appearance of a Methodist congregation as this."
The word preached in Lynn took such effect that in about two months after Mr. Lee first visited the place, February 20, 1791, a society of thirty members was formed, and by the month of May following upward of seventy had received certificates that they attended Methodist meeting. So rapidly did the work progress, that on the 14th of June following, they began to build a house of worship; and "the people had such a mind to work" that the house was raised on the 21st, and dedicated on the 26th of the same month. This is said to have been the first Methodist church which was built in the state of Massachusetts.
Many other towns in this state were visited by Mr. Lee in the course of this year; in all which, notwithstanding the opposition generally manifested by the settled clergy and many of their congregations, he found access to the people. Salem, Newburyport, Danvers, Marblehead, and Charlestown were severally visited, and regular preaching established; and a foundation was thus laid for Methodism in that land of the "pilgrim fathers."
The circuits also in Connecticut were greatly enlarged, and several new ones added by those enterprising preachers who followed in the track of Mr. Lee. Many amusing and instructive anecdotes might be related respecting the manner in which these preachers were received and treated in this part of the country. As they did not suppose any man could be qualified to preach the gospel without a classical education, almost the first question asked by the ministers with whom they came in contact would be, whether they had a "liberal education." Mr. Lee was a shrewd man, and was seldom at a loss for an answer suited to the occasion. He says, in one place, "The woman of the house asked me a few questions, and in a little time wanted to know if I had a liberal education. I told her I had just education enough to carry me through the country." Soon after a similar question was propounded to him by one of the principal men of the town, before he would give his consent for Mr. Lee to preach in the court house, to whom he replied, "I have nothing to boast of; though I have education enough to carry me through the country." On another occasion, a young lawyer, with a view to puzzle Mr. Lee, addressed him in Latin, to whom he replied in German -- a language not understood by either the speaker or his friends, who were anxiously listening to the conversation. " There," said a gentleman who was in the secret of the lawyer's intentions, "the preacher has answered you in Hebrew, and therefore he must be a learned man." This repartee of Mr. Lee silenced the inquisitiveness of the facetious lawyer, and gave the former the decided advantage over his antagonist.
But the most effectual method adopted by the Methodist preachers was, when they came in company with those who were fond of disputations, and this was very general in New England, to urge upon the people the necessity of being soundly converted to God, and of enjoying an evidence of their acceptance in his sight, through faith in the Lord Jesus. And through, their persevering diligence in this good work, God blessed their labors abundantly in various places, so that a foundation was laid by their labors and privations for that extensive spread of evangelical principles, and piety which we have lived to see in that part of our country.
But the most difficult place to plant the tree of Methodism was in the city of Boston. It was a considerable time, as already related, before they could procure even a private house to preach in; and when they succeeded thus far, such was the general prejudice against them that they could not long retain possession of it. At length they succeeded in obtaining the use of a school-house, but this was soon after denied them. They then rented a chamber in the north end of the town, where they continued regularly for a considerable time. A small society had been formed on the 13th of July, 1792, and though few in number, and generally poor, with a view to obviate the difficulties they had to contend with, they undertook to build a house of worship. To aid them in this pious design, money was begged for them on the eastern shore of Maryland, in the state of Delaware, Philadelphia, and in New York. By the aid thus afforded they were encouraged to proceed in their labors; and on the 28th day of August, 1795, the corner stone for the first Methodist church was laid in Boston. It was a wooden building, forty-six feet in length and thirty-six in breadth. At this time there were but forty-two members in the Church in Boston, two of whom were colored persons. After the opening of this house the congregation very considerably increased, especially in the evenings, at which time many, who were ashamed to be seen going to a Methodist meeting by daylight, would assemble to hear the "strange doctrine," as it was called.
In Salem, on some of his first visits, Mr. Lee was invited by the minister, the Rev. Mr. Hopkins, into his pulpit; but at length he was informed by Mr. Hopkins, that though he could not find any particular fault with his preaching, yet such was the opposition of some of his people, that he thought not prudent to admit Mr. Lee to his pulpit any more. Mr. Lee then thanked him for his former kindness, and they parted with mutual good will.
Hitherto I have recorded the names of those who were located, expelled, or had died; but as the continuance of these records would swell this history beyond reasonable bounds; and as their names, with a brief sketch of the characters of those who had died in the work, will be found in the minutes of the conferences, it is thought to be inexpedient to insert the names of all such, but only those who may have been most eminently useful in the cause of God.
This year eight received a location, and three had departed this life. One of these last, John Tunnel, was elected to the office of an elder at the Christmas conference in 1784, and was eminently useful as a minister of Christ. He had traveled extensively throughout the United States, was highly esteemed for the depth and uniformity of his piety, his indefatigable labors, and his commanding talents as a preacher. He died in great peace near the Sweet Springs, in Virginia, the Church deeply lamenting loss of such a devoted and useful servant.
Numbers in the Church: Whites This year, 45,949, Last year, 35,019, Increase 10,930; Colored This year, 11,682, Last year, 8,243, Increase, 3,439; Total This year, 57,631, Last year, 43,263, Increase, 14,369; Preachers This year, 227, Last year, 196, Increase, 31.
This was by far the largest, increase which had been realized in any one year, and shows the happy effects of the revivals we have mentioned.
1791. There were thirteen conferences held this year, at the following times and places: -- At Charleston, South Carolina, on the 22d of February; in Georgia, on the 16th of February; at Mr. McKnight's, North Carolina, on the 2d of April; at Petersburgh, Virginia, on the 20th of April; at Hanover, on the 26th of April; in Alexandria, District of Columbia, on the 2d of May; in Baltimore, on the 6th of May; at Duck Creek, on the 13th of May; in Philadelphia, on the 18th of May; in New York, on the 26th of May; in Connecticut, on the 23d of July; in Uniontown, on the 28th of July; in Albany, on the 23d of August.
Ten new circuits were added to the list, namely, Edisto Island, in South Carolina; Union, in Virginia; Queen Anne's, in Maryland; Northumberland, in Pennsylvania; Otsego and Saratoga, in New York; Stockbridge, in Massachusetts; and Kingston, in Upper Canada. Boston was exchanged for Lynn in the minutes.
As this is the first notice we have of a circuit in Canada, it is considered expedient to give some account of the state of things in that country.
Though Canada was discovered by the English as early as 1497, yet it was first settled by the French in 1608. In 1763, after the capture of Quebec by General Wolfe, the whole country passed into the hands of the English, and so remains to the present day.
As this country was first settled by the French, the Roman Catholic religion chiefly prevailed there, but more particularly in the lower province. After the conquest of the country by the English, the Church of England was established by law, though at the same time the Roman Catholic Church had all their religious rights and privileges guarantied to them by an act of the king and parliament of Great Britain. These provisions, however, did not exclude other sects from settling among them, and of enjoying their respective peculiarities, with the exception of solemnizing the rites of matrimony.
But while the great majority of the people of Lower Canada were French Catholics, the upper province was settled principally by Protestant refugees from the United States, disbanded soldiers from the British army, and by English, Scotch, and Irish emigrants but at the time of which we are now speaking, the country was extremely destitute of the word and ordinances of Christianity. For though the English Church had a name to live there, but few of her ministers were found among the people, and even these few were destitute of the requisite qualifications of ministers of the sanctuary. Hence the people generally were living in ignorance of God, alike destitute of the ordinances of religion for themselves, and the means of education for their children.
In this state of things, Upper Canada was visited by William Losee, a member of the New York conference, in the year 1791. He went through the wilderness of the western part of the slate of New York, suffering numerous privations and hardships, and crossed the lower part of Lake Ontario to Kingston. In attempting to form a circuit along the banks of the lake and of the bay of Quinte, he found here and there an individual who had heard the Methodist preachers in England or in the United States. By these he was cordially received; and he succeeded in forming a circuit, and establishing a few classes. The next year Darius Dunham was sent to Canada. He and brother Losee extended their labors from the bay of Quinte down the banks of the river St. Lawrence, forming what was called the Oswegotchie circuit; and the next year there were returned on the minutes of conference, as the fruit of their labors, one hundred and sixty-five members of the Church.
From this time the work of God went on gradually in Canada, until it eventuated in one of the most glorious revivals of religion we have on record in these modern days. It will be noticed more particularly in the proper place.
This year, with a view to guard against imposture, the brethren and friends were cautioned, in the minutes of conference, to which Mr. Hamitt took exceptions, and which has been before quoted, against receiving any in the character of Methodist preachers, unless they came recommended by the proper authorities of the Church. Perhaps no people have been more exposed to impositions of this character than the Methodists; by reason of their peculiar organization, and the constant habit, at that time especially not much practiced by other denominations, of itinerating so extensively through the country, and the numerous emigrants from Europe, many of whom, having lost their character at home, sought a shelter from their disgrace in America. Yet there is no necessity of suffering from these impostors, if the people would only examine those who come among them in the character of preachers, and ascertain whether or not they are furnished with proper credentials.
This year was also highly favored with the outpourings of the Spirit of God in many places. In New England especially many doors were opened, and solicitations sent for Methodist preaching, notwithstanding the opposition which was manifested to the peculiarities of Methodism. The doctrines of universal redemption, conditional election and perseverance, and more especially of Christian perfection, were most violently opposed by the "standing order" in this country, and the preachers were frequently called upon to defend these truths against subtle and powerful adversaries. Although they in general endeavored to avoid disputations of this character, they were often reluctantly drawn into them in the midst of the people, or they must abandon to their antagonists what they considered the truths of God. Their doctrines, however, gradually gained upon the understandings and affections of many of the people, and commended themselves to their approbation by the happy effect which they produced in the hearts and lives of such as had embraced them.
Dr. Coke and Bishop Asbury traveled extensively through the southern states, and rejoiced together in beholding the prosperity of the work of God in many places. We have already seen that the Council had become unpopular among the preachers, and that they were obliged, after the second year's trial, to abandon it. It seems that, among others who were much opposed to committing the affairs of the Church to so few hands, James O'Kelly was one of the foremost, and that by letters from him Dr. Coke's mind had become influenced against it. Hence Bishop Asbury, with whom the Council was a favorite, remarks, "I found the doctor had much changed his sentiments since his last visit to this continent, and that these impressions still continued. I hope to be enabled to give up for peace' sake, and to please all men for their good to edification." In this spirit of sacrifice he yielded to the general wish for the substitution of a General Conference in the place of the Council.
After traversing the southern and middle states, generally preaching every day, Bishop Asbury, for the first time, visited New England this year; and the following extracts from his Journal will show how he felt on his entrance into this land of the Puritans, and what were his first impressions on beholding the state of things here. Under date of June 4, he says, --
"I went on to Redding. Surely God will work powerfully among these people, and save thousands of them." -- "This country is very hilly and open, not unlike that about the Peak of Derbyshire. I feel faith to believe that this visit to New England will be blessed to my own soul, and to the souls of others. We are now in Connecticut, and never out of sight of a house, and sometimes we have a view of many churches and steeples, built very neatly of wood." -- "There may have been a praying ministry and people here, but I fear they are now spiritually dead, and am persuaded that family and private prayer is very little practiced. Could these people be brought to constant, fervent prayer, the Lord would come down and work wonders among them."
From this place he traveled through various towns, preaching the "gospel of the kingdom" to all who would come and hear, and on the 9th came to the pleasant city of New Haven, the Athens of New England. His appointment having been published in the newspapers, many came to hear, among whom was the president of Yale College, the Rev. Dr. Stiles, and several other clergymen. He remarks, that though they heard with attention and gravity, yet, after meeting, no one asked him to his house; and though he attended the college at the hour of prayer, no one gave him an invitation to visit the interior of the college buildings. This cold reception, he says, reminded him of the words of Mr. Whitefield to Messrs. Boardman and Pillmore, on their arrival in America: --
"Ah," said he, "if ye were Calvinists, ye would take the country before ye." "Should Cokesbury or Baltimore," he adds, "ever furnish the opportunity, I, in my turn, will requite their behavior by treating them as friends, brethren, and gentlemen. The difficulty I met with in New Haven for lodging, and for a place to hold meeting, made me feel and know the worth of Methodists more than ever."
From New Haven Bishop Asbury passed on through Middletown to New London, and thence to Providence in Rhode Island where he took sweet counsel with the Rev. Mr. Snow, a pious Congregational minister, then aged about seventy years, who had been brought to the knowledge of the truth by the Rev. Mr. Tenant, "whose memory," says the bishop, "I revere." Of the people of Providence he makes the following remarks: --
"They appear to be prudent, active, frugal; cultivating a spirit of good family economy; and they are kind to strangers. They have frequently had revivals of religion. I had faith to believe the Lord would shortly visit them again, and that even we shall have something to do in this town.
From Providence he went on to Boston, where he met with a very cold reception, owing to the want of boldness and energy in the few who professed to be friends. Such were the discouragements thrown in his way in this place that he says, "I have done with Boston until we can obtain a lodging, a house to preach in, and some to join us." In Lynn he met with a most cordial and welcome reception, and says, which indeed is proved to have been prophetic, "Here we shall make a firm stand, and from this central point, from Lynn, shall the light of Methodism radiate through the state."
From hence he passed on through Worcester and the intervening towns to Hartford, and from thence to Albany, N. Y., where he arrived on the 20th of July. After a short review of his recent travels in New England, and observations upon the religious state of the people, he says, --
"I am led to think the eastern church will find this saying hold true in regard to the Methodists, I will provoke you to jealousy by a people that were no people; and by a foolish nation will I anger you.' They have trodden upon the Quakers, the Episcopalians, the Baptist -- see now if the Methodists do not work their way."
I have been thus particular in following the first tour made by Bishop Asbury into New England; that the reader may see with what indefatigable industry this man of God fulfilled the high and important office he sustained in the Methodist Church, and the influence which his labors exerted in the cause of Christ in that part of our country. His office was no sinecure, but one of increasing toil and sacrifice, and in the exercise of it he gave the most devoted attention to the best interests of mankind; nor were his impressions respecting the state of things in New England, and his anticipations of the success of Methodism among that people, either erroneous or chimerical; for they have since been verified by the course of events. From this land, where Christianity was interwoven with the civil institutions, have shot forth those branches which have since extended even to the far west, and are now flourishing in all the freshness of perennial growth in those new states and territories.
This year was distinguished by the death of that eminent man of God and founder of Methodism, the Rev. John Wesley. Dr. Coke and Bishop Asbury were in Virginia when this melancholy news reached them; and the following are the reflections which the latter makes on hearing this mournful event: --
"The solemn news reached our ears that the public papers had announced the death of that dear man of God, John Wesley. He died in his own house in London, in the eighty-eighth year of his age, after preaching the gospel sixty-four years. When we consider his plain and nervous writings; his uncommon talent for sermonizing and journalizing; that he had such a steady flow of animal spirits; so much of the spirit of government in him; knowledge as an observer; his attainments as a scholar; his experience as a Christian; I conclude his equal is not to be found among all the sons he hath brought up; nor his superior among all the sons of Adam he may have left behind. Brother Coke was sunk in spirit, and wished to hasten home immediately. For my part, notwithstanding my long absence from Mr. Wesley, and a few unpleasant expressions in some of the letters the dear old man has written to me, occasioned by the misrepresentations of others, I feel the stroke most sensibly; and I expect I shall never read his Works without reflecting on the loss which the church of God and the world have sustained by his death."
The death of Mr. Wesley, though from his great age it must have been generally expected by his friends, was an event mournfully felt throughout the Christian church, and more especially through all the ranks of Methodism. His character is now so well known that it is scarcely necessary to add any thing here to what has already been said in the published accounts of this great and good man. As long as pure Christianity shall remain, So long will the name of Wesley be held in grateful remembrance. For among all those who have been raised up in modern days to revive and diffuse abroad the pure principles of the gospel, no one shone so conspicuously, nor exerted such a holy and extensive influence, as did John Wesley. His writings will speak for him, and proclaim him the sound divine, the ripe and finished scholar, the deep and sincere Christian, and a man of the most enlarged philanthropy, so long as pure Christianity shall be held in esteem, while the scribblings of his defamers shall be held in execration by all pious and well-informed ChristiAnswers And the society he was instrumental in raising up and establishing in Great Britain, as well as the Church which was organized under his direction in America, shall remain as monuments of his wisdom in devising and executing plans for the diffusion of gospel truth and holiness, and for the permanent establishment of such associations as be instrumental in transmitting these blessings from generation to generation.
That the Church, in both hemispheres, should mourn the loss of such a man is nothing more than what could have been expected, while the fact that he had been instrumental in raising up men, as his sons in the gospel, competent to carry out, and to continue in operation, the plans he had devised for the salvation of the world, evinces the wisdom and energy with which he had applied himself to his work. While, therefore, his weeping friends stood around his bed, and heard his last dying words, "The best of all is, God is with us," they gathered fresh courage to trust in the God of his life for a continuance of his blessing upon his mourning Church.
In consequence of this afflictive intelligence, Dr. Coke hastened to prepare for his departure from the continent, that he might mingle his sorrows with his brethren in Europe over the loss they had sustained in the death of Mr. Wesley. On his way he stopped at Baltimore, and on Sabbath preached a sermon on the occasion of the death of Mr. Wesley, in which he mentioned some things which gave offense to his American brethren. His profound sorrow at the loss of Mr. Wesley, though an event which, in the ordinary course of nature, must have been anticipated as near at hand, and the keen sensibilities of his heart to every thing which had the remotest tendency to tarnish the glory of that great man, led him to say, in the above sermon, that the act of leaving Mr. Wesley's name from the minutes probably hastened his death.
This circumstance would be hardly worthy of notice, had not some persons, more distinguished for their petulance than their candor, seized upon it for the purpose of disparaging the character of the American conference. In addition to what has already been said in reference to this matter, the following particulars may serve to vindicate the conduct of the conference, as well as to apologize for the precipitancy of Dr. Coke in making the assertion, erroneous in itself, in so public a manner -- a fault amply atoned for by the sincerity and frankness with which he afterward deported himself toward his American brethren. Were the judgments of mankind infallible in all cases, we should be saved the necessity of offering apologies for such venial instances of human infirmity.
That we may rightly understand this subject, it is necessary to review some of the doings of the conferences of 1784 and 1787. The minute of the conference of 1784, already noticed, respecting obeying Mr. Wesley during his lifetime, stood unrepealed until 1787, when it was omitted. Among other reasons for this omission, one unquestionably was, to prevent any one from accusing them, as some had already done, of being under the dictation and control of a British subject, who had written against the American revolution, and thereby of subjecting themselves to the suspicion of disloyalty to their own government; and also to remove every apprehension of having Bishop Asbury, whom they so highly respected and affectionately loved, taken from among them. This was an event the more to be deprecated, as they knew of no one who could fill his place. He had grown up with them -- had suffered and sympathized with them during a protracted and sanguinary war -- had fully identified his interests, his weal or woe, with t heirs and had, moreover, become familiar with their character and peculiar circumstances, both as American citizens and as Methodist preachers; and hence, whatever deference they might have felt for Dr. Coke -- and they certainly were not deficient in love and respect for him -- past experience convinced them that he did not understand their affairs so well as did Bishop Asbury. And that which gave origin to their fears that such a dictation as has been supposed might be exercised over their affairs, was the fact heretofore alluded to, that in 1787, Dr. Coke, at the request of Mr. Wesley, altered the time of holding the General Conference, without consulting the American preachers, and also requested Mr. Whatcoat to be elected a joint superintendent with Bishop Asbury.  That Mr. Wesley was dissatisfied with this omission is certain, from some expressions in his letters to Bishop Asbury about that time, to which the bishop alludes in the above notice of Mr. Wesley's death, and which probably led to the famous letter in which Bishop Asbury is censured for taking the title of bishop, concerning which so much has been said by the enemies of Methodist episcopacy. 
As to the minute to which allusion has been made, it was a voluntary act of the conference, and not a contract mutually entered into between them and Mr. Wesley, and therefore its omission in 1787 was no violation of a pledged faith between the parties. But as some of the enemies of Bishop Asbury have blamed him in this business, it seems proper to give his own version of these acts of the conference, with a view to justify himself in reference to this affair. He says, "I never approved of that binding minute," alluding to the minute of 1784, in which they promised obedience to Mr. Wesley in matters of church government: --
"I did not think it practical expediency to obey Mr. Wesley at three thousand miles' distance, in all matters relative to church government; neither did brother Whatcoat, nor several others. At the first General Conference I was mute and modest when it passed, and I was mute when it was expunged. For this Mr. Wesley blamed me, and was displeased that I did not rather reject the whole connection, or leave them, if they did not comply. But I could not give up the connection so easily, after laboring so many years with and for them."
But although Mr. Wesley suffered a momentary displeasure to arise in his mind on account of their rescinding the rule in question, and with characteristic plainness expressed his dissatisfaction to Bishop Asbury, yet when the thing was fully explained to him, together with the motives which prompted them to that act, he became satisfied with the uprightness of their conduct, and expressed, only twenty-nine days before his death, his unabated attachment to his American brethren, in the following letter to the Rev. Ezekiel Cooper: --
Near London, Feb.1, 1791.
"My Dear Brother, -- Those who desire to write, or say any thing to me, have no time to lose; for time has shaken me by the hand, and death is not far behind. But I have reason to be thankful for the time that is past: I felt few of the infirmities of age for fourscore and six years. It was not till a year and a half ago that my strength and sight failed. And still I am enabled to scrawl a little, and to creep, though I cannot run. Probably I should not be able to do so much, did not many of you assist me by your prayers. I have given a distinct account of the work of God which has been wrought in Britain and Ireland for more than half a century. We want some of you to give us a connected relation of what our Lord has been doing in America, from the time that Richard Boardman accepted the invitation, and left his country to serve you. See that you never give place to one thought of separating from your brethren in Europe. Lose no opportunity of declaring to all men that the Methodists are one people in all the world; and that it is their full determination so to continue,
Though mountains rise, and oceans roll, To sever us in vain.
To the care of our common Lord, I commit you; and am your affectionate friend and brother,
After reading such an epistle as this, who can doubt of the writer's affectionate regard for his American brethren, as well as his strong desire for their indissoluble union with their brethren in Europe? -- Such sentiments were highly worthy the apostolic character which Mr. Wesley sustained, as well as the position he occupied as the founder and leader of the entire denomination on both sides of the Atlantic -- standing, as he did, upon the margin of time, with eternity full in his view! May it ever be the aim of both families of the Methodists to cultivate the spirit herein recommended!
Having arranged his affairs for his departure to England, on the 14th of May, after an affectionate parting with Bishop Asbury and several of the preachers who were assembled in Philadelphia, Dr. Coke set sail for London, where he arrived in safety after a short and pleasant voyage. On his arrival in England, at this eventful crisis in the history of Methodism, he found that suspicions had been engendered in the circle of his acquaintance respecting the purity of his motives in hastening from his work in America. Though his future conduct put to silence all such suspicions, yet to a mind alive to every thing which would affect his reputation, and thereby wound the holy cause in which he was engaged, it was no small trial of his faith and patience to have the purity of his motives questioned, or his conduct unjustly censured. In the midst of these conflicts, confiding in the integrity of his own heart, and relying upon the protection of him who had been a never-failing source of consolation to him, both in adversity and prosperity, Dr. Coke silently bowed to the inscrutable ways of divine Providence, while in the meantime he was cheered by the reception of the following friendly and sympathizing letter from Bishop Asbury, which, as belonging to the history of the times, and as exemplifying the spirit and manner in which the writer employed his time, is given entire. It is as follows: --
"Rev. and Most Dear Sir, -- If yet in time, this brings greeting. Rejoice with me that the last has been a year of general blessing to the church of God in this wilderness. We humbly hope two thousand souls were born of God, one of which is well ascertained in Jersey and York. East, west, north, and south, the glory of God spreads.
"I have served the Church upward of twenty-five years in Europe and America. All the property I have gained is two old horses, the constant companions of my toil, six if not seven thousand miles every year. When we have no ferryboats, they swim the rivers. As to clothing, I am nearly the same as at the first: neither have I silver nor gold, nor any property. My confidential friends know that I lie not in this matter. I am resolved not to claim any property in the Book Concern. Increase as it may, it will be sacred to invalid preachers, the college, and the schools. I would not have my name mentioned as doing, having, being any thing but dust.
"I soar, indeed, but it is over the tops of the highest mountains we have, which may vie with the Alps. I creep sometimes upon my hands and knees up the slippery ascent; and to serve the Church, and the ministers of it, what I gain is many a reflection from both sides of the Atlantic. I have lived long enough to be loved and hated, to be admired and feared.
"If it were not for the suspicions of some, and the pride and ignorance of others, I am of opinion I could make provision by collections, profits on books, and donations in land, to take two thousand children under the best plan or education ever known in this country. The Lord begins to smile on our Kingswood school.  One promising young man is gone forth, another is ready, and several have been under awakenings. None so healthy and orderly as our children; and some promise great talents for learning. The obstinate and ignorant oppose, among preachers and people, while the judicious for good sense and piety, in church and state, admire and applaud. I am, with most dutiful respect, as ever, your son in the gospel,
This letter shows not only the high sense which Bishop Asbury entertained for the character of Dr. Coke, his ardent desire for his welfare, and the prosperity of the work of God in the conversion of sinners, but also the great interest he took in the cause of education, affirming that none but the "obstinate and ignorant" opposed their laudable efforts to extend its benefits to the youth of our land; and that the judicious in church and state admired and applauded the literary institution which they had established. And though Providence seemed to frown upon the praiseworthy attempts which they made in the case of education, it was never lost sight of by its friends, but, as we shall see in the course of our history, finally became an integral part of the general system of diffusing the lights of knowledge and Christianity among the inhabitants of this western world. That, however which cheered their hearts and animated them with fresh courage to pursue their way, in the midst of the signals of mourning which were hung out as tokens of sorrow for the loss of such a man as John Wesley, was the ingathering of souls into the fold of Christ, and the continual expansion of their field of gospel labor. While the strife of tongues was heard uttering reproach upon their character and conduct, conscious of the integrity of their hearts, and the purity of their motive, they rejoiced in beholding the right hand of their God stretched out to do them good, to sanction the efforts of their hearts and hands. The following will show the result of this year's labor: --
Numbers in the Church: Whites This year, 50,385, Last year, 45,949; Increase, 4,436; Colored This year, 12,884, Last year, 11,682; Increase, 1,202; [Corrected] Total This year, 63,269,  Last year, 57,631; Increase, 5,638; Preachers This year, 250, Last year, 227; Increase 23.
 Mr. Lee assigns other reasons for the nonelection of Mr. Garrettson but the above is taken from Mr. G's own account of the transaction, in which he corrects the mistake of Mr. Lee.  See "Defense of our Fathers," and "An Original Church of Christ. "  See book iii, chap. ii.  How such an affirmation could have been made by any honest and intelligent American appears almost inconceivable, when it is so well known that General Washington was at that time, 1785, a private gentleman, living on his farm in Virginia, and was not elected president of the United States until 1789. The fact is, as stated in Mr. Morrell's letter, (which see,) that the address was written at the time it stands dated in the address itself, during the session of the New York conference in June, 1789, and at the very time the congress were assembled, and a few days after Washington had delivered his first inaugural address to the representatives of the nation. How could an address be presented to President Washington when there was no such official personage in existence! The supposition carries such self-evident absurdity on its face, that it is a wonder how malignant ingenuity itself could have ever hazarded its assertion. Its refutation therefore is rendered necessary only from the fact, that such is the state of human society that no absurdity is too glaring to gain some proselytes.  There is a trifling error in the date in Dr. Emory's account, as he says it was the 3d of June. The true date of the document, May 29, 1789, it will be perceived, corresponds with the date given to it by Mr. Sparks.  [Transcriber Endnote: See also P. Douglass Gorrie's Sketch of the Life of Jesse Lee among our data files -- Livesof.exe, Chapter 11. -- DVM]  Mr. Embury continued a faithful follower of Jesus Christ, and a diligent laborer in the gospel as a local preacher in the Methodist connection, until the year 1775, when he ended his days in peace in the above region of country; and his remains were buried about seven miles distant from Ashgrove, "in a spot of peculiar beauty in the gorge of two romantic hills, on a small elevation surrounded by a lovely scenery, and in view of two or three handsome cottages." In 1832, some of his surviving friends, moved by a pious respect to the memory of this humble and devoted servant of God, and with a view to deposit his bones in a burying ground in the midst of his children and friends, had them removed from their former resting place, and, with suitable religious services, in the presence of a large multitude of people who had assembled on the occasion, committed them to the earth in the Methodist burying ground in Ashgrove. Over them is placed a marble tablet, with the following inscription: -- PHILIP EMBURY, The earliest American minister of the Methodist Episcopal Church, Here found His last earthly resting place. Precious in the sight of the Lord is the death of his saints, &c. The remainder of the epitaph need not be copied here. The widow of Mr. Embury was afterward married to a member of our Church by the name of Lawrence, who settled in Upper Canada, and they were the nucleus of a society in the place where they lived, which has continued to flourish to the present day.  Mr. Wesley undoubtedly alludes to this unpleasant affair in his Journal, under date of July 26, 1787. He says, "We were agreeably surprised with the arrival of Dr. Cake, who came from Philadelphia in nine and twenty days, and gave us a pleasing account of the work of God in America." -- "I desired all our preachers to meet me and consider the state of our brethren in America, who have been terribly frightened at their own shadow, as if the English preachers were just going to enslave them. I believe that fear is now over, and they are more aware of Satan's devices." Their fears, whether groundless or not, were removed by the assurance they received from Dr. Coke, that he would not again interpose his authority while at a distance from them, in altering the time for holding their conferences; or when here, of stationing the preachers without the concurrence of Bishop Asbury.  For the clearing up of all these difficulties, and the vindication of Bishop Asbury, see Original Church of Christ, p. 143.  It is presumed that this alludes to the Cokesbury College, as it is not known to the writer that any other seminary or learning, under the patronage of the Methodist Episcopal Church, was then in existence.  There is an error in the printed minutes for this year of 12,884 in the aggregate number of the whites, which is there stated to be 63,269. This error originated from adding the number of the colored to the whites, and at the same time retaining the number of the colored in a separate column.
 See "Defense of our Fathers," and "An Original Church of Christ. "
 See book iii, chap. ii.
 How such an affirmation could have been made by any honest and intelligent American appears almost inconceivable, when it is so well known that General Washington was at that time, 1785, a private gentleman, living on his farm in Virginia, and was not elected president of the United States until 1789. The fact is, as stated in Mr. Morrell's letter, (which see,) that the address was written at the time it stands dated in the address itself, during the session of the New York conference in June, 1789, and at the very time the congress were assembled, and a few days after Washington had delivered his first inaugural address to the representatives of the nation. How could an address be presented to President Washington when there was no such official personage in existence! The supposition carries such self-evident absurdity on its face, that it is a wonder how malignant ingenuity itself could have ever hazarded its assertion. Its refutation therefore is rendered necessary only from the fact, that such is the state of human society that no absurdity is too glaring to gain some proselytes.
 There is a trifling error in the date in Dr. Emory's account, as he says it was the 3d of June. The true date of the document, May 29, 1789, it will be perceived, corresponds with the date given to it by Mr. Sparks.
 [Transcriber Endnote: See also P. Douglass Gorrie's Sketch of the Life of Jesse Lee among our data files -- Livesof.exe, Chapter 11. -- DVM]
 Mr. Embury continued a faithful follower of Jesus Christ, and a diligent laborer in the gospel as a local preacher in the Methodist connection, until the year 1775, when he ended his days in peace in the above region of country; and his remains were buried about seven miles distant from Ashgrove, "in a spot of peculiar beauty in the gorge of two romantic hills, on a small elevation surrounded by a lovely scenery, and in view of two or three handsome cottages." In 1832, some of his surviving friends, moved by a pious respect to the memory of this humble and devoted servant of God, and with a view to deposit his bones in a burying ground in the midst of his children and friends, had them removed from their former resting place, and, with suitable religious services, in the presence of a large multitude of people who had assembled on the occasion, committed them to the earth in the Methodist burying ground in Ashgrove. Over them is placed a marble tablet, with the following inscription: --
The earliest American minister of the Methodist Episcopal Church, Here found His last earthly resting place. Precious in the sight of the Lord is the death of his saints, &c. The remainder of the epitaph need not be copied here. The widow of Mr. Embury was afterward married to a member of our Church by the name of Lawrence, who settled in Upper Canada, and they were the nucleus of a society in the place where they lived, which has continued to flourish to the present day.
 Mr. Wesley undoubtedly alludes to this unpleasant affair in his Journal, under date of July 26, 1787. He says, "We were agreeably surprised with the arrival of Dr. Cake, who came from Philadelphia in nine and twenty days, and gave us a pleasing account of the work of God in America." -- "I desired all our preachers to meet me and consider the state of our brethren in America, who have been terribly frightened at their own shadow, as if the English preachers were just going to enslave them. I believe that fear is now over, and they are more aware of Satan's devices." Their fears, whether groundless or not, were removed by the assurance they received from Dr. Coke, that he would not again interpose his authority while at a distance from them, in altering the time for holding their conferences; or when here, of stationing the preachers without the concurrence of Bishop Asbury.
 For the clearing up of all these difficulties, and the vindication of Bishop Asbury, see Original Church of Christ, p. 143.
 It is presumed that this alludes to the Cokesbury College, as it is not known to the writer that any other seminary or learning, under the patronage of the Methodist Episcopal Church, was then in existence.
 There is an error in the printed minutes for this year of 12,884 in the aggregate number of the whites, which is there stated to be 63,269. This error originated from adding the number of the colored to the whites, and at the same time retaining the number of the colored in a separate column.