Having, in the preceding chapter, detailed the doings of the General Conference at its last session, we will now proceed to notice the movements of the Church in her various departments of labor for the year 1824.
This year the Rev. Charles Elliot was appointed as an assistant to Mr. Finley on the Wyandot mission. Through their united labors the work of God spread both among the adults and the children of the school.
The mission was visited this year by Bishops McKendree and Soule, who made a thorough examination of the premises, the state of the Mission-church, and school; and the report of their interview with the converted chiefs gave a most gratifying view of the general aspect of things.
Through the influence of these labors, and that of the missionaries who had the immediate charge of the establishment, the number of Church members had increased this year to one hundred and sixty, and the school, now under the care of William Walker, the subagent, a man fully competent to his work, was in a prosperous condition. The farm also was improving, and yielding a partial supply for the consumption of the mission family. And what contributed mightily to the prosperity and stability of the work, while it gave irrefutable evidence of its depth and genuineness, spirituous liquors were, by a solemn decree, banished from the nation. Benevolent individuals, excited by reading the good news of this great work, as well as auxiliary missionary societies, poured forth their stores to aid the cause of Indian missions.
The mission among the Mohawks, in Upper Canada, was equally prosperous. The particulars, however, relating to this and other missions in that province, will come more properly under subsequent dates.
Since the commencement of the Missionary Society, most of the new ground which was brought under cultivation was through the medium of missionaries, as well in the older parts of the country as in the new settlements in the west and southwest, though in most instances but a partial support was received from the society.
This year the Rev. George Pickering was sent to form a new circuit in Newburyport and Gloucester, in Massachusetts, a region of country hitherto inaccessible to Methodist preachers, except flow and then to a transient visitor. His labors were accompanied with an outpouring of the divine Spirit, and about one hundred souls were brought to Christ in the course of the year; and thus a foundation was laid for continued preaching, the people soon contributing to their own support.
The Rev. John Lindsey was appointed as a missionary to South Hadley and Sunderland, Massachusetts, where he labored with such success that the following year the mission was taken into the regular work.
Piscataquis, in Maine, was occupied as missionary ground by the Rev. Oliver Beale, and at the end of the second year it was included in the regular work, with a membership of eighty souls as the fruit of his labors.
The work of God in the various domestic missions mentioned under date of last year was in delightful progress, and was extending in various directions among the new and destitute settlements. Nor were the older parts of our work without the reviving influences of the Spirit of God. In various parts of Delaware state, in New Jersey, the Susquehannah and Ontario districts, in the bounds of the Genesee conference, the New Haven and Rhinebeck districts, New York conference, there were encouraging revivals of the work of God, begun generally through the agency of camp meetings, and then carried forward by a faithful attention to the means of grace in the circuits and stations.
In Telfair county, in the state of Georgia, where religion had been at a low ebb for several years, the work of God commenced at a camp meeting held near the fork of the Oconee and Oakmulgee rivers, and thence spread in various directions through the adjacent neighborhoods. The presiding elder, the Rev. John J. Triggs, relates the following anecdote respecting a Baptist preacher who attended the meeting and participated in its exercises: -- "In the midst of the work he arose on the stand, and declared to the congregation that he had no doubt but this was the work of God; and warned the people, especially professors of other denominations, of the dangerous consequences of opposing God's work and of fighting against him. He then told them that he felt as solemn as death, and, lifting up his eyes and hands toward heaven, prayed God to send holy fire among the people. An awful solemnity rested on the assembly, and the power of the Highest overshadowed them. Some fell to the ground, and others cried aloud for mercy." The meeting resulted in the conversion of thirty-four, and a number returned to their homes under deep conviction for sin, resolved on a reformation of heart and life.
The cause of education was daily advancing from one annual conference to another, and exerting an enlightening influence both on the young and the old. This year an academy was established in Cazenovia, in the bounds of the Genesee conference, a portion of our country fast increasing in population, wealth, and civil and religious enterprise. It was incorporated by the state legislature, and opened its doors for the education of youth of both sexes; and such has been its prosperity, that it has continued, enlarging its dimensions and extending the sphere of its influence, from that day to this, much to the credit of its founders and patrons, and greatly to the advantage of the rising generation. This, as well as the others which have been named, was brought strictly under a religious influence, so that the principles of Christianity might be embodied in the heart, as far as practicable, simultaneously with the growth of literature and science. And the pious objects of its patrons have been in a good degree realized in the conversion, from time to time, of quite a number of the students.
In proportion to the increase of preachers the number of locations was diminished, there being this year only forty-eight; whereas, as might be expected, the number of supernumeraries and superannuated was gradually increasing in nearly all the annual conferences, there being this year of the former forty-three, and of the latter sixty-seven. Three had been expelled and nine had died during the past year. These last were, Charles Trescott, David Gray, John Wallace, Joseph Kinkaid, Peyton Anderson, Enoch Johnson, Richard McAllister, Mordecai Barry, Louis R. Fetchtig, and James Akins. It is no slight evidence of the truth and excellence of the gospel, that it enables its advocates to die in the full possession of its promised blessings. Of the above-mentioned brethren it is recorded that, having discharged their Christian and ministerial duties with fidelity, they all made a peaceful and triumphant exit from time to eternity, thus sealing the truths they had preached to others with their own lips in that most trying hour.
Of Peyton Anderson, particularly, excellent things are said. He was born February 9th, 1795, in Chesterfield county, Virginia. Favored with the advantages of a good education in his youth, and being brought under the influence of gospel truth, at an early age he was made a partaker of pardoning mercy by faith in Jesus Christ. In his nineteenth year he commenced the work of an itinerant minister, and gave early indications of those talents as a preacher, and of that zeal in the cause of God, which afterward distinguished him in his short career of usefulness. In his public exercises, as well as in his private intercourse, he was remarkable for the seriousness of his manner, arising, no doubt, from the sincerity of his heart, and his deep devotion to the cause of God.
He had a discriminating mind, and could therefore easily distinguish between truth and error, and nicely balance the relative claims of the several objects which were lawful for mankind to pursue. And his deep solemnity in the pulpit, his ready command of appropriate language, the fervor of his spirit, and evident sincerity of purpose, gave an impressiveness to all his discourses, which fastened the truths he uttered upon the hearts of his hearers. Though comparatively young in Christian experience and in the ministry of the word, yet he had learned much in the school of Christ, having passed through some severe struggles of mind, and wrestled in the strength of mighty faith and prayer against the violence of temptation, in which he was "more than a conqueror through Him who had loved him." He was therefore able to administer spiritual consolation to those who were in trouble, and to admonish such of their danger who were "wrestling against principalities and powers," as well as to point them to the only source whence their help was to be derived.
Having drunk deeply at the fountain of divine love, his heart expanded with benevolent feelings toward mankind generally, for whose salvation he longed and labored with all diligence. Hence the Missionary Society found in him a warm friend and zealous advocate, and he was instrumental in promoting its noble objects by the formation of branch societies, and by stirring up a spirit of liberality among the people of his charge. And what rendered his precepts more weighty and influential, they were constantly enforced by his own example, both as respects the piety of his heart, the uniformity of his life, and the burning charity with which he exemplified the living principle of his faith.
In his last sickness and death the graces of Christianity shone out with luster, and eclipsed in his view all the fading glories of this world. While his friends were standing around his dying bed, and watching with anxious hearts the issue of his conflict, and beheld the fitful ebbings and flowings of animal life, he said to them, in the language of faith and hope, "Farewell, brethren. When we meet again it will be in heaven." He thus ended his mortal career August 27, 1823, in the twenty-ninth year of his age, and tenth of his public ministry.
Thus a bright light in the church militant became extinguished ere it had attained its meridian splendor. Mysterious are the ways of Providence! Had our brother Anderson lived to the common age of man, and gone on improving as he had begun, under the smiles of his heavenly Father, he doubtless would have risen to eminence in the church of God, and been a great blessing to his fellow-men. But He who "sees the end from the beginning," and whose "thoughts are not as our thoughts," in thus fulfilling the original decree denounced upon fallen man, in calling his servant to his eternal reward in early life, manifested his sovereign right over the work of his hands, and challenged the pious submission of his people to the wisdom and goodness of his dispensations.
Numbers in the Church: Whites This Year: 280,427; Last Year: 267,618; Increase: 12,809 -- Colored This Year: 48,096; Last Year: 44,922; Increase: 3,174 -- Total This Year: 328,523; Last Year: 312,540 -- Increase: 15,983 -- Preachers This Year: 1,272; Last Year: 1,226; Increase: 46.
A work of grace commenced this year among the Mississauga Indians in Upper Canada. These were among the most degraded of all the Indian tribes in that country. From their habits of intercourse among the depraved whites, they had bartered away their land for intoxicating liquor, had debased themselves by intemperance, and were consequently lazy, idle, poor, and filthy to a most disgusting degree. They seemed, indeed, to be abandoned to a most cruel fate.
Among others who had embraced the Lord Jesus during the work among the Mohawks was Peter Jones, a half-breed, his mother being a Mississauga and his father an Englishman. Mr. Jones, Peter's father, had been the king's surveyor, and his occupation leading him much among the Indians, during the days of his vanity he formed an intimacy with two Indian women, the one a Mohawk princess and the other a Mississauga woman. About the year 1801, Mr. Jones, under the Methodist ministry, was awakened and converted to God. He then felt it his duty to repudiate one of his women, and he separated himself from the mother of Peter, the Mississauga, and married the other, who also embraced religion, and became a pious member of the Church. Peter followed his mother into the woods, and remained with his tribe until he was about twelve years of age, when his father brought him from the wilderness and sent him to an English school. While here, through the preaching of the gospel, he also was brought from darkness to light; and, understanding both languages, he was at first employed as an interpreter, and finally became eminently useful as a minister of the Lord Jesus.
Feeling, after his conversion, for the salvation of his wretched tribe, he hasted away to them, and told them what great things God had done for his soul. This had a powerful effect upon their minds, and led them to attend the meetings on the Grand river.
A relative of Peter Jones, one of their chiefs, while attending these meetings, was led to the Lord Jesus for salvation, and his family soon followed his steps. Others followed their example, and, through the pious exertions of this converted chief and Peter Jones, a reformation was effected this year among these degraded Mississaugas, of such a character, so thorough and genuine, that all who beheld it were astonished, and could not but acknowledge the hand of God. They abandoned the use of intoxicating liquor, forsook their heathenish and immoral practices, were baptized and received into the communion of the Church, and demonstrated, by their subsequent conduct, that the work was indeed the work of God. A white man, who had made his house the resort for drunken whites and Indians, seeing the visible change in the temper and conduct of these Indians, could but acknowledge the finger of God, was struck under conviction, became a sincere convert, banished from his house his drunken companions, became sober and industrious, and devoted both himself and his house to the service of God. The whole number converted at this time was fifty-four, seven of whom were whites.
About the same time that this good work was going on so gloriously among the Mississaugas, a similar work commenced among a branch of the Delawares and Chippeways, who were settled at Muncytown, on the river Thames. This work began through the instrumentality of a Mohawk by the name of Jacob, who had raised himself to respectability among them by his sober and industrious habits. Until he heard the truths of the gospel he thought himself a very good and happy man, and was so considered by his brethren; but when the light of divine truth shone upon his mind he saw himself a sinner against God, his fancied goodness and happiness fled, and he rested not until he found peace with God through faith in the Lord Jesus. No sooner did this great change take place in Jacob's heart than he went among his brethren, who were wallowing in the mire of iniquity and heathenish practices, addressing them from one cabin to another, warning them, in the most affectionate manner, of the danger to which they were exposed, and beseeching them to be reconciled to God. "The Great Spirit," said he, in imperfect English, "is angry. You must die. Now consider where the wicked man must go. We must be born new men. Our heart new. His Spirit make us new heart. Then, O! much peace, much joy."
Another among the first converts was an Indian of a very different character, and therefore the change was the more apparent and convincing. He was so given up to intoxication that he would barter any thing he had for vile whisky. At one time he offered his bullock for whisky, and, because his neighbors would not purchase it, in a violent rage he attempted to destroy the creature. At another time, having sold his clothes from his back for whisky, he stole from his wife the seed corn she had carefully preserved for planting, and offered it for the "fire waters," but was prevented from thus robbing his wife of the means of future subsistence by one of our friends, who purchased it and returned it to the squaw, upon whose labor in the field the family chiefly depended for bread. But even this man, vile as he was, who, in his drunken fits, was one of the most quarrelsome wretches that could haunt a human habitation, became reformed by the power of the gospel. That his reformation was thorough, was evidenced by the soberness, piety, and industriousness of his subsequent life. The conversion of two such men had a most powerful effect upon the whole tribe. Many of them embraced the gospel, and a school was soon established for the education of their children and youth.
The labors of Peter Jones were highly useful in conducting these missions. He interpreted for the missionaries, and often addressed his Indian brethren, from the fulness of his own heart, with great effect. Many were the objections which the pagan Indians raised against the gospel, some of them founded in truth, and some from false representations circulated among them by the enemies of Christianity. These objections were obviated by distinguishing between real and nominal Christians, and by showing that the latter disgraced themselves by abusing the holy doctrines and high privileges to which they were called, and in which they professed to believe. It was, indeed, painful to be obliged to concede the fact, that hitherto the Indians had been imposed upon by the cupidity of white men, under the garb of Christianity; but this conduct was disclaimed and condemned by the missionaries, and the example of those who now came among them, and of the new converts, was presented as an ample refutation of all the slanderous representations of their adversaries. This silenced the clamor, and gave confidence to the friends of the cause.
Several attempts had been made, but with little success hitherto, to establish Methodism in the city of New Orleans, a place which needed the reforming influence of the gospel as much, perhaps, as any on the continent.
This city, which is now equal in importance, in a commercial point of view, to any in the United States, was first settled by the French, toward the close of the seventeenth Century, and the Roman Catholic religion was incorporated with its civil regulations. The progress of the settlement, like all the others in that region of country, for a number of years was extremely slow, owing to a variety of causes, but chiefly to the wars between France and Spain, to the unhealthiness of the climate, and the want of industry and enterprise among the original settlers. In 1763, that part of Louisiana west of the Mississippi and Pearl rivers, of which New Orleans was the capital, was ceded to Spain, and so remained until 1801, when it passed into the hands of the French republic, from whom it was transferred, in 1804, by purchase, to the United States. At this time the population, chiefly French Roman Catholics, numbered about twelve thousand; but from that period the increase of its citizens was much more rapid, by emigrants from various parts of the Union, so that, at the time of which we now speak, there were probably not less than forty thousand. These Anglo-Americans, mingling with the Creoles of the country, gradually introduced their habits and modes of living, as well as their religious tenets.
But though New Orleans was thus early settled, and possessed so many local advantages for commerce, as before said, its progress was slow, and the population were encumbered with all those embarrassments arising out of the peculiarities of the Roman Catholic religion. In 1815, three years after the memorable victory of the American army under General Jackson, the City contained about thirty-six thousand inhabitants, most of whom were descendants of the French and Spaniards. And until about the year 1820, when a Presbyterian church was erected, there was no place of worship besides the two Roman Catholic churches. It is said, indeed, that the sabbath was generally desecrated by profane sports and plays, the principles of morality exceedingly relaxed, pure religion little understood, and its precepts less exemplified in practical life.
Among others who were lured to New Orleans for the purposes of traffic from the other states were some members of our Church, who spent the winter months in the city, but, on account of the insalubrity of the climate, retreated to their former places of abode during the heat of summer. These, however, beholding the degraded state of society, and feeling the deleterious influence of such a general inattention to religion, called upon the authorities of the Church for help. Accordingly, in the year 1819, the Rev. Mark Moore was sent to New Orleans, and he preached, under many discouraging circumstances, to a few in a room which was hired for that purpose, and some ineffectual efforts were made to build a church. In 1820 the Rev. John Manifee was sent as a missionary to New Orleans, and in the same year the place was visited by the Rev. Ebenezer Brown, who, being disappointed in his attempts to gain access to the French population in Louisiana, assisted Mr. Manifee in preaching to an English congregation in t he city. From this time until 1824 New Orleans seems to have been forsaken by the Methodist preachers thinking probably that it was useless to spend their strength to so little purpose, for I find no returns of any members of the Church until the year 1825. In 1824 the Rev. Daniel Hall stands as a missionary for New Orleans, but the prospect was yet but gloomy.
This year, 1825, the Mississippi district was placed in charge of the Rev. William Winans, whose eminent talents as a preacher, and indefatigable labors as a presiding elder in that part of the country, gave a more vigorous impulse to the work of God; and New Orleans was blessed with the labors of the Rev. Benjamin Drake, who was instrumental in reviving the hopes of the few pious souls who prayed and sighed for the salvation of Israel in that place; for we find that in 1826 there were returned on the Minutes of conference eighty-three members, twenty-three whites and sixty colored. But still the work of God went on slowly, the preachers having to contend with a host of opposition from without and feebleness within the Church, with the unhealthiness of the climate, and the want of suitable accommodations for holding their meetings. The next year, however, the society had increased to one hundred in all. From this time the work has steadily advanced, and they have finally succeeded, by struggling bard with difficulties of various sorts, in erecting a large and elegant house of worship, so that in 1835 they numbered six hundred and twenty-five members, five hundred and seventy of whom were Colored, chiefly, I believe, slaves.
Mobile and Pensacola, about fifty miles apart, the former in Alabama and the latter in Florida, were supplied last year and this with the preaching of the gospel. Under the patronage of the Missionary Society, the Rev. Henry P. Cook was sent to these places. His deep piety and faithful exertions in the cause of Christ soon gave him a commanding and salutary influence among the people of his charge.
Since Mobile has been connected with the United States, by the cession of Louisiana, it has filled up rapidly with inhabitants, has become an incorporated City, a port of entry, and a place of considerable trade; but, like most of the towns included in that tract of country, the people generally were quite neglectful of their spiritual and eternal interests until visited by the Methodist itinerants. Mr. Cook, however, was cordially received by a few, and he succeeded in raising a flourishing society, adopted measures for building a house of worship, which was finally completed, and the society has continued to flourish to the present time. Nor will the name of Henry P. Cook be soon forgotten by the inhabitants of Mobile. He fell a martyr to his work in that place this year, leaving behind him the savor of a good name, and numerous evidences of his deep devotion to his work, and of his love to the souls of men.
Pensacola was also becoming a town of considerable importance in that part of Florida, and Mr. Cook was instrumental in raising a small society in that place, which, however, has fluctuated from time to time, struggling with various difficulties, until, in the year 1828, they succeeded in building a meeting-house, in which they assembled for the worship of God.
While attending to these two places, as the principal scene of his labors, in passing from one to the other, Mr. Cook preached to some scattered inhabitants along the Escambia river, in West Florida, which was afterward occupied as a separate mission field.
Tallahassee, in another part of Florida, was also provided with the means of grace this year. The Rev. John Slade was sent to this region of country as a missionary, and he succeeded in forming a society of seventy-three members, sixty whites and thirteen colored.
The Early mission, in a neighboring region of country, was so successfully cultivated by the Rev. Morgan C. Turrentine, who was sent to form the circuit, that he returned no less than one hundred and thirty-six members, eighteen of whom were people of color. This year was the commencement of a work which has continued to spread in that part of Florida until several circuits have been formed, on which are large and flourishing societies. Such were the blessed results of the missionary spirit pervading our ranks at that time, and which has continued to rise and diffuse its hallowing influences in every direction among the people.
In addition to those missions which included the more remote settlements in the exterior parts of our work, it was found, on examination, that there were many places in the older countries which had been overlooked by all denominations, being too remote from the center of population for the people to attend the stated places of worship. Such were the Highland and Hampshire missions, in the bounds of the New York conference; the former embracing a destitute population in the midst of the Highlands, a mountainous and rather poor region of country, about sixty miles north of the city of New York; the latter a district of country in the northwestern part of Massachusetts. The Rev. John J. Matthias was this year appointed to labor in the Highlands, and such was the success of his zealous efforts, that at the end of the first year he returned one hundred and thirty-four Church members, and at the termination of the second the people manifested a willingness and an ability to support themselves. It has accordingly since been included among the regular circuits.
The Rev. Parmele Chamberlin was sent to the Hampshire mission. This was found a more difficult place to plant the tree of Methodism. Success, however, finally crowned the persevering efforts of God's servant, so that, at the end of four years, this was also taken into the regular work.
While the work was thus extending itself in new places, and causing "the wilderness and solitary places to be glad for" the coming of these heralds of salvation, the older circuits and stations were blessed with the reviving influences of God's Spirit. Indeed, it was the vigorous action in the heart of the body which gave such a lively pulsation to the extremities. And what contributed not a little to diffuse this healthy action throughout the entire body was the publication of the Methodist Magazine, now arrived to the eighth volume, and which conveyed in its monthly numbers the news of what God was doing for the various tribes of men. Many testimonies to the salutary influence of this periodical on the interests of religion might be adduced from those preachers and others who were the most actively engaged in building up the walls of Zion. From the pages of the volume for this year, it appears evident that God was pouring out his Spirit on various parts of his vineyard, watering and reviving the souls of his people, and converting sinners from the error of their ways.
A glorious work of God commenced in the latter part of last year in Chillicothe, Ohio, which resulted in an addition to the Church in that place, by the month of February of this year, of two hundred and twenty-eight members. From the time of the revival in this town in 1818 and 1819, there had been a diminution in their number, owing chiefly to removals still farther west; but this gracious work not only made up their loss, but also added new strength to the society, and increased their numbers very considerably.
Through the means of camp and quarterly meetings there was a great work of God on the Ontario district, then under the charge of the Rev. George Lane. This good work spread through all that region of country, so that the increase of members on that district for this year was upward of one thousand.
The Genesee district was also visited with showers of divine grace, and most of the circuits shared in their refreshing influences.
In Bridgetown, New Jersey, where religion had been languishing for some time, a gracious work of God commenced, which resulted in the conversion of about one hundred souls, most of whom became members of the Church.
In Newark, New Jersey also, there was a manifest display of the grace of God in the awakening and conversion of souls, under the labors of the Rev. William Thacher. It began by urging upon believers the necessity of "going on unto perfection," or the seeking after holiness of heart and life; and no sooner did they feel the enlivening influences of the Holy Spirit in their own souls, than the work spread among the unawakened part of the community, and very soon fifty souls were added to the Church, and great seriousness rested on the congregation generally.
On Coeyman's circuit, New York state, there was a general revival of the work of God. This also commenced among the professors of religion, who were induced to seek after "perfect love" as the privilege of believers in this life. Having their own souls baptized from on high, they were fired with a loving zeal for the salvation of their neighbors; and the consequence was, that one hundred and seventy were brought to the knowledge of the truth and added to the Church.
In the city of Albany, where Methodism had struggled with many difficulties for a long time, God poured out his Spirit, and about fifty souls were brought into the fellowship of the Church.
On the Champlain district, then under the charge of the Rev. Buel Goodsell, the work of God prevailed very generally among the circuits, and the hopes of God's people were greatly revived and their hearts strengthened. This good work was the result of a number of camp meetings which were held in different parts of the district. These were the means of the conversion of many sinners, and a general quickening among the professors of religion.
New Haven district also, under the superintendence. of the Rev. Samuel Luckey, was favored with some revivals, and the state of religion was generally flourishing through the district.
In this part of the country, as well as in some others, it had been found that we had labored to little purpose in the cities and principal villages, for want of convenient houses of worship, and because we had not a preacher constantly among the people. From these defects in our plans of procedure, our societies in New Haven, Middletown, and Hartford, and many other places, had been but feeble, and often the prospects were discouraging. About this time a remedy had been pro provided in some places, and was providing in others, by erecting churches, and stationing preachers in those cities and villages where the people were able to support them. The blessed effects of these movements were soon felt and seen, though in some instances, in building churches, the people felt themselves compelled, as they thought, to depart from our general usage, by selling or renting the slips, as they could not otherwise either build the houses, or induce the people to attend the preaching -- parents pleading that they wished to seat their children and members of their household with them in places of public worship.
Whatever may be said against this policy in other parts of our work, it is certain that its adoption in many portions of the country in the eastern and northern states has had a beneficial influence upon the interests of our Church. By this means the people have been able to meet the expense of sustaining the worship of God, and also to secure permanent congregations; and the preachers could more fully and effectually discharge all the duties of pastors, in overseeing the temporal and spiritual affairs of the Church, such as visiting from house to house, attending upon the sick, burying the dead, meeting the classes, and regulating sabbath school, tract, and missionary societies. And who will say that these things are not as important to the well-being of the Church, or the prosperity of true religion, as it is "to preach so many sermons?"
A great and glorious work this year prevailed in the Susquehannah district, in the bounds of the Genesee conference, under the presidency of the Rev. George Peck. Camp meetings were chiefly instrumental in kindling the sacred flame which spread among the circuits and stations of this region of country, and many sinners were happily converted to God, while the holy impulse was felt through the churches generally.
The Rev. Dan Barnes, in giving an account of the Black river district, in the same conference, speaks of a great work which commenced at a camp meeting and thence spread in various directions.
In the city of Baltimore the Rev. Samuel Merwin, who had charge of the church in that place this year, writes, that mighty works were wrought in the name of the Lord Jesus. He says that from fifty to one hundred and fifty were crying to God for mercy in the same meeting, and he presumed that from five hundred to six hundred were made partakers of pardoning mercy during the progress of the work.
About this time a lively feeling was awakened in the Christian community in behalf of seamen, a class of men hitherto almost entirely neglected by the church. Indeed, as early as 1816, a few benevolent individuals in the city of New York had directed their attention to the condition of this useful class of men, and they succeeded in forming a society for promoting the gospel among seamen in the port of New York, consisting of nearly all evangelical denominations, and its operations are conducted on the most catholic principles. Its affairs are managed by a board of directors, holding a corporate seal by an act of the legislature. Being patronized by the Christian public, they succeeded, in 1819, in purchasing ground and erecting a house of worship in Roosevelt Street, near the quays on the East river, quite convenient for the sailors to attend. At the dedication of this house, in accordance with the catholic principles on which it was built, the three sermons were preached by a Protestant Episcopalian, a Dutch Reformed, and a Methodist Episcopal minister. To insure the stated ministry of the word, the Rev. Ward Stafford, a Presbyterian minister, was first engaged to take charge of the congregation, who was occasionally assisted by ministers of other denominations.
After he left, the directors obtained a gratuitous supply by inviting ministers of various denominations, so as to keep up, as far as possible, the anti-sectarian character of the enterprise, that all might feel an interest in its promotion. It was soon found, however, that a congregation could not be collected and retained without the labors of a stated minister. Accordingly, in 1821, they employed the Rev. Henry Chase, at that time a local preacher, and an assistant teacher in the Wesleyan seminary in the city of New York, to take charge of a weekly prayer meeting in the church, to distribute tracts among seamen, to visit their families, and to perform such pastoral duties as might not interfere with his engagements with the seminary. Being quite successful in these efforts, at the request of the directors, and in accordance with the advice of his brethren in the ministry in the city of New York, Mr. Chase resigned his place as teacher in the Wesleyan seminary, and on the first of January, 1823, devoted himself entirely to the service of seamen.
In 1825 brother Chase was admitted on trial in the New York conference, and, at the request of the directors of the seamen's society, was stationed in the Mariner's church, where, with the exception of eighteen months, when they had a minister of another denomination, he has continued ever since. In 1825, perceiving that great good resulted to seamen from his labors, and of those similarly employed in other places, and feeling the inconvenience of those changes which ordinarily take place in our Church, the General Conference made an exception in favor of those preachers who were laboring for the spiritual good of seamen, allowing the bishop to continue them in the same station for any length of time. Mr. Chase has accordingly been continued in the Mariner's church to the present time, as a member and elder in the New York conference, and his ministrations have been greatly blessed. Hundreds of seamen have been soundly converted to God, and the church is generally filled with orderly and attentive hearers every sabbath, and regular prayer meetings are held every week. There is, indeed, a great improvement in the condition and general conduct of this useful and suffering class of men.
As the Mariner's church is supported by the several denominations of Christians, no church organization has taken place there, but those who were brought to the knowledge of the truth were at liberty to unite with whatever church they pleased; but I believe most of them have united with the Methodist Episcopal Church; and their numbers have become so considerable, that they have recently organized themselves into a church, under the name of the Methodist Episcopal Seamen's Church in the city of New York, have elected trustees, and are now (1840) making preparations to erect a house of worship for their accommodation and that of their seafaring brethren.
Similar efforts have been made in other places, and with equal success, which will be noticed under their appropriate dates.
On the whole, it would appear, notwithstanding some portions of our Church were agitated with discussions on the different modes of church government, that prosperity generally attended the labors of God's servants, and that the spirit of revival pervaded the ranks of our Israel. Some other churches also caught the flame in many places, and were therefore making delightful progress in the advancement of true religion.
Fifty-eight preachers were located this year, fifty-five returned supernumerary, and eighty-three superannuated; fourteen had died, and three had been expelled.
Among the dead was William Beauchamp, whose eminent talents fitted him for great usefulness in the church of God. And while the civil historian enriches his pages with memoirs of statesmen, poets, orators, philosophers, and men of military renown who have benefited their country, we may be allowed to preserve a record of those eminent ministers of the sanctuary who, by the depth and ardor of their piety, their genius, and their eloquence in the pulpit, have contributed to advance the best interests of their fellow-men. The characters of such men are a precious legacy which they have bequeathed to the Church, more valuable, indeed, than silver and gold.
William Beauchamp was born in Kent county, Delaware state, on the 26th day of April, 1772. He was a descendant of a pious Methodist preacher, who, about the year 1785, removed to the west and settled on the Monongahela river, and from thence, in about eight years, on the Little Kenhawa river, Wood county, Va. Here, in conjunction with Mr. Rees Wolf; another Methodist preacher, he was instrumental in establishing some Methodist societies. William was a subject of religious impressions when quite a youth, and at about sixteen years of age he was made a partaker of justifying faith, and became a member of the Methodist Episcopal Church.
In 1794 he joined the traveling ministry, and after discharging the duties of an itinerant preacher with great acceptance and usefulness west of the Allegheny mountains for three years, he was stationed, in 1797, in the city of New York, and a few of the people here still remember the able manner in which he fulfilled the duties of his station. In 1799 he was stationed in Provincetown, in Massachusetts, and from thence he was removed, in 1800, to the island of Nantucket.
In this place Methodism was scarcely known at that time. A local preacher by the name of Cannon had preached there with some success, and hence the conference was requested to send them a regular preacher, and Mr. Beauchamp was accordingly sent. Here his piety and talents soon gained him the confidence of the people, and he was instrumental in raising a society of eighty members, and before he left the place a large and commodious house of worship was erected. This laid the foundation of Methodism in the island of Nantucket, which has continued to enlarge its dimensions from time to time, so much so that the New England conference has held two of its sessions in that place, the first in 1820, and the second in 1836.
Unhappily for the Church, whose interests he served, in 1801 Mr. Beauchamp located. In the same year he was united in matrimony to Mrs. Frances Russell, the widow of Mr. A. Russell, who had been lost at sea.
Without stopping to notice the intervening periods of his life, it will be sufficient for the purposes of this short memoir to remark, that he remained in a located relation to the Church until 1822, when he re-entered the traveling connection, and continued therein until his death, which happened on the seventh day of October, 1824, in the fifty-third year of his age.
His piety was unquestionable, and his talents as a minister of Jesus Christ, as a writer, and as a man of business, were of the first order; and, had he continued in the itinerant ministry, no doubt he would have arisen to the first distinction in the Church. During his located relation he removed to the west, and settled first in his former place of residence, on the Little Kenhawa, and then, in 1816, in Chillicothe, and finally he took up his residence at Mount Carmel, Illinois. Of this latter place, he, in conjunction with his friend, Thomas S. Hinde, was the founder. In all the places where he resided he obtained the confidence, respect, and affection of the people, and was eminently useful as a minister of Jesus Christ, as well as a citizen among his neighbors. Indeed, such is said to have been the confidence of his neighbors in his wisdom and integrity, that often civil suits were withdrawn from courts of justice and submitted to his arbitrament. He also infused into the minds of the youth within the circle of his acquaintance a taste for literary acquirements, both by example and precept.
During this same period of his life he appeared before the public as a writer, and in 1811 he published an "Essay on the Truth of the Christian Religion," which is said, by those who are capable of judging of its character, to be a work of sterling merit. In 1816, while residing at Chillicothe, he became the editor of a monthly periodical, called "The Western Christian Monitor," for which he furnished some valuable pieces, written with spirit and much critical acumen. At this time we had no periodical publication; and feeling, in common with many others, the want of such a medium of instruction, he was led, aided by some of his literary friends in the west, to undertake this work. For the short time it existed its circulation was considerable, and its pages were enriched with articles, both original and selected, which did honor to the head and heart of its editor. Among others who contributed articles for the Western Christian Monitor was Thomas S. Hinde, better known under the signature of "Theophilus Arminius," whose sketches of western Methodism afterward enriched the pages of the Methodist Magazine, and who became the biographer of his deceased friend, the Rev. William Beauchamp. The work, however, continued in existence only one year, but it contained evidence of the piety, industry, and talent of its editor.
After the commencement of the Methodist Magazine Mr. Beauchamp became an occasional contributor to that work, and all his pieces bear the stamp of genius, of an original thinker, and an accurate writer.
Having returned to the ranks of the itinerancy, he again entered upon his work with all that ardor, and in the display of those ministerial qualifications, by which he had been before distinguished. In the second year he was appointed a presiding elder of the Indiana district. While traveling this district he was seized with a complaint with which he had before been visited, namely, an affection of the liver. He lingered under the influence of this corroding disease for about six weeks, during which time he exhibited the patience, faith, and love of the Christian, and died in the in hope of eternal life.
Mr. Beauchamp was a close, a diligence, and a successful student, though in his youth he was deprived of the customary advantages of education. While a lad his father removed to the Monongahela, where schools were not to be found. But as he had contracted a taste for books before his removal, he surmounted the difficulties of his situation, procured torch-lights as a substitute for candles or lamps, and when the labors of the day were finished, and the family retired to rest, young Beauchamp would prostrate himself upon the floor, and examine his books by the light of his torch. In this way he treasured up a stock of useful information, of which he availed himself in after life. He became thoroughly acquainted with the principles of his vernacular language, studied the Latin and Greek, and in his riper years mastered the Hebrew tongue. In addition to these acquirements, he cultivated an acquaintance with some of the sciences, through the medium of the most accomplished authors. With this taste for literature and science, it seems strange that he should have neglected the study of history, as it is stated he did, this being of all others the most important to store the mind with useful knowledge, and especially for the minister of the gospel.
These qualifications, superadded to the depth and uniformity of his piety, his love of the Bible, and his acquaintance with its doctrines and precepts, fitted him in an eminent degree for usefulness in the Church; and had he devoted himself exclusively to the work of the gospel ministry, as before said, he might have risen to one of its highest offices: as it was, after his return to the itinerancy, at the General Conference of 1824, which he attended as a delegate from the Missouri conference, he was a candidate for the episcopacy, and lacked only two votes more to insure his election.
His style of preaching was remarkable for its chastity, plainness, and nervousness. No redundancy of words encumbered his sentences -- no pomposity of style swelled his periods nor did there appear any effort to produce a momentary effect for the empty purpose of gaining the shout of applause. His attitude in the pulpit was solemn, his gestures easy and graceful, his arguments sound and conclusive, and his positions were all fortified by apposite appeals to the sacred Scripture. And though he made no artificial efforts at oratorical display, yet he exhibited the true eloquence of a gospel minister, by making his language reflect clearly the perceptions of his mind, by pouring the truths of Christianity upon his audience in the purest strains of a neat and energetic diction, and by enforcing the whole by the sincerity and earnestness of his manner. His delivery was deliberate, not loud and boisterous, but clear and distinct, leaving an impression upon the mind of the hearer that truth and duty were the object of his pursuit.
His biographer relates the following incident in proof of the power and conclusiveness of his arguments, when engaged in establishing a controverted point. His antagonist, who was listening attentively to the discourse, finding the arguments too powerful for him to answer, rose, apparently with an intention to leave the house, but was so overcome by the force of truth, and his whole frame so agitated, that, finding himself staggering, he caught hold of the railing, reeled, and dropped upon his seat, and there remained, overwhelmed and confounded, until the sermon was ended; he then silently withdrew, and left Mr. Beauchamp master of the field.
But he rests from his labors. And whatever of human infirmities he may have exhibited, they were lost sight of amid the many excellences which adorned his character, and may therefore be entombed beneath the same turf which hides his mortal remains in Paoli, until the last trumpet shall awake his sleeping dust to life and immortality. Acknowledging himself indebted to divine grace for present peace and future salvation, he hung upon the promises of the gospel for support and comfort, and finally resigned up his soul to God in the full hope of eternal life.
Another of the worthies who exchanged the itinerant race for the crown of reward was William Ross, of the New York conference. Though his race was comparatively short -- for he died in the thirty-third year of his age -- his course was steady, and his end glorious.
He was a native of Tyringham, Mass., and was born February 10,1792. In the seventeenth year of his age he was made a partaker of the justifying grace of God, became a member of the Methodist Episcopal Church, and, in his twentieth year, entered the ranks of the itinerancy. In the early periods of his ministry he labored chiefly in the state of Vermont, where, in consequence of the badness of the roads and coarseness of the fare, he sometimes suffered many privations, which gave him an opportunity of trying the strength of his resolutions, of his faith in Christ, his love to God and the souls of men. The faithfulness with which he discharged his duties in this rugged field of labor gave him favor in the eyes of the people, and commended him to the approbation of his brethren in the ministry.
After traveling various circuits, in which he acquitted himself as an able minister of the New Testament, in 1821 he was stationed in the city of New York, where he labored two years with great acceptance. For the last two years of his ministry he was stationed in Brooklyn, Long Island, where he ended his life and labors in the full triumph of faith and hope. His last hours, indeed, were a brilliant comment upon the doctrines he had preached, and tended not a little to strengthen our faith in the divinity of their origin, and the efficacy of their application to the heart and conscience.
William Ross is not exhibited as a great man, nor yet as a learned man. He was neither the one nor the other, in the common acceptation of these terms. But he was a good man, a good preacher, and a good husband, father, and friend, and he was thus good because the grace of God in Christ Jesus had made him such. In one sense, indeed, he was great. He had a clear perception of the plan of redemption by Christ Jesus, well understood the sacred Scriptures, was indefatigable in his labors, was an eloquent and successful preacher of righteousness, and exemplified in his own life those pure precepts of Christianity which he recommended to others.
The high estimation in which he was held by his brethren, and by the Christian community generally, may be inferred from his being frequently called, in the course of his ministrations in New York and Brooklyn, to plead the cause of Bible, missionary, Sunday school, and tract societies. Here, indeed, he sometimes spoke with a force and eloquence which astonished and delighted his friends, while it confounded the enemies of these benevolent exertions for the salvation of the world.
In the pulpit there was a peculiar solemnity in his manner, and dignity of expression -- the grave, distinct, sonorous intonations of his voice giving force and impressiveness to the sentiments he uttered, and reminded the hearer that be was listening to a messenger who felt the weight and importance of his message. Being a decided friend to all our benevolent institutions, and particularly to the missionary and education causes, he often advocated them in public, and gave them the weight of his influence in his more private intercourse in the circles in which he moved. Some of his satirical thrusts -- for he sometimes used this dangerous weapon to put error and folly to the blush -- at ignorance and covetousness, cut with the keener edge because of the strength and appropriateness with which they were sent by his skillful hand. Nor was he deterred from exposing these common pests of human society merely because the wounds which he inflicted upon their votaries made them writhe and groan under the sensations of pain which they frequently suffered.
He was equally skillful and much more delighted in the pleasing task of portraying before his audience the glowing beauties of charity, the divine excellences of the other Christian graces, and the attractive charms with which Christianity invested him who clothed himself with its rich and lovely livery. When, therefore, William Ross "occupied that holy place, the pulpit," no one was disgusted with a repetition of cant and unmeaning -- unmeaning, I mean, to him who utters them -- phrases, but he listened to the solemn realities of eternity, which fell from the speaker's lips in accents of deep feeling, in language at once chaste, plain, and intelligible, uttered in a tone of voice which bespoke a soul filled with the subject on which he was discoursing.
I have made this short record as due to one who, had he lived and prospered in his race as lie began and ended it, would doubtless have ranked among the first ministers of our Church. There was, indeed, an amiability of disposition and courteousness, of demeanor about the movements of William Ross which drew forth the love of those who knew him, and at the same time a dignity of deportment which commanded their respect.
There is one fact respecting him, which happened near the close of his life, that goes most forcibly to set off the beauty and strength of his character. When it was ascertained by the official members in the city of Brooklyn that he was to be stationed among them, some of them, perhaps the majority, remonstrated against the appointment, so strongly indeed that the bishop hesitated about insisting upon making it. Among others who may have been consulted, the writer's opinion was asked. The reply was, "Send him; for such is the weight of his character, the urbanity and meekness of his manners, as well as his talents as a preacher, that he will soon overcome all opposition, and prove himself worthy of the affection and confidence of the people;" and then added, "A people who will reject such a man as William Ross are unworthy of any preacher." This was said from an intimate acquaintance with the man, and likewise from a knowledge that the objections to him originated from a prejudice which had no foundation in truth and reality.
He was sent. It was not three months before every objection against him was removed, the work of God prospered, the church was filled with hearers, and never was a man more highly esteemed or affectionately loved than brother Ross was by the people of Brooklyn. So highly did they estimate his labors among them, that, immediately after his death, the society contributed about twelve hundred dollars for the support of his widow and orphan children.
Of the other twelve who had ended their labors during the past year, honorable mention is made of their fidelity in the cause of God and of their peaceful death.
Numbers in the Church: Whites This Year: 298,658; Last Year: 280,427; Increase: 18,231 -- Colored This Year: 49,537; Last Year: 48,096; Increase: 1,441 -- Total This Year: 348,195; Last Year: 328,523 -- Increase: 19,672 -- Preachers This Year: 1,314; Last Year: 1,272; Increase: 42.
The aboriginal missions which had been commenced and prosecuted under such favorable auspices continued to prosper, and to promise the most happy results. There was, however, no other aboriginal mission opened this year, and nothing worthy of special notice which happened among those which had been begun, except that their continued prosperity still attracted the attention of the Church, and led to those plans for the evangelization of other tribes which will be noticed hereafter.
The great change which had been wrought among the Mississauga Indians, heretofore related, was followed by the most blessed results on other fragments of the same tribe. An additional number of twenty-two, who professed faith in Christ, were baptized this year and formed into a class in Bellville, in Upper Canada. They were placed under the care of two of their principal men, Captain William Beaver and John Sunday, who had before given evidence of a sound conversion, and who now acted as class leaders. Nothing could furnish a more convincing evidence of the thorough change which had been effected in the hearts of these people, than was evinced by their forsaking entirely their the heathenish habits, and banishing from among them the use of all intoxicating liquors, becoming thereby sober and industrious. Infidelity itself was constrained to bow before the majesty of truth, and to confess, however reluctantly, that nothing short of divine power could produce a reformation so thorough and permanent.
Some new missions were commenced this year, embracing parts of Florida and Alabama, called the Holme's Valley and Pea river missions, and were put under the charge of the presiding elder of the Tallahassee district, the Rev. George Evans. These countries were but thinly populated, the settlements sometimes being from twenty to forty miles distant from each other, separated by a wilderness. On this account it was difficult to collect congregations, or to pass from one settlement to another; but, notwithstanding these discouraging circumstances, the missionaries succeeded in their evangelical efforts in forming societies, so that, in 1827, there were returned on the Holme's Valley mission one hundred and two white and thirty-five colored members, and on Pea river one hundred and four white and twenty-one colored; and the good work thus begun has steadily gone forward from that time to this, so that Tallahassee has since become the seat of the Alabama conference.
The Rev. S. Belton was sent to form a circuit in the newly settled townships between the Mississepa [sic] and Attawa rivers, in Upper Canada, places which had been seldom if ever visited by any minister of the gospel. The settlements had been formed chiefly by emigrants from Ireland, who were in very moderate circumstances, and therefore unable to do much for the support of religious institutions. They were, however, thankful for the care thus manifested for their spiritual welfare, generally listened with attention to the word of life, and did what they could to make the missionary comfortable. That the word took effect is manifest from the fact that the next year there were returned on the Minutes two hundred and seven members, and the work has continued to prosper, under the labors of God's servants, from that to the present time.
There were several refreshing revivals of religion this year in some of the older circuits, more particularly in the south and west, where the principal increase of members was found. These revivals were accompanied by the same evidence of divine power and grace which had attended those heretofore related, and gave to the friends of religion irrefutable arguments in their favor. At a camp meeting held on Hanover circuit, in Virginia, there were not less than one hundred and twenty souls who professed to find the pearl of great price, and the good work spread with such rapidity that upward of three hundred were brought to God on this circuit. On the Bottetourt circuit similar results followed two camp meetings which were held there this year. In Anne Arundel county, Maryland, there were mighty displays of the power of God. The work commenced at a camp meeting held at a place called Rattlesnake Springs. It was believed that not less than two hundred and fifty persons were brought from darkness to light, and several professed to be filled with "perfect love," while many departed from the place under deep conviction for sin, and groaning for redemption in the blood of the Lamb.
Though these and other instances of revival were witnessed during the year, yet the general increase of Church members was not so great as the year before.
The New England conference had succeeded in establishing an academy within its bounds, for the education of youth of both sexes, in Wilbraham, Massachusetts, and the one at Newmarket was merged in this. It was this year put under the charge of the Rev. Wilbur Fisk, by whose pious and judicious management it greatly prospered, and was soon filled with students, and has been instrumental in shedding the lights of literature and religion on the rising generation. Here young gentlemen are taught all those branches of literature preparatory to an entrance into college, or upon the active business of life, at the same time that the principles of the gospel are faithfully inculcated; and the institution has been frequently favored with gracious outpourings of the Spirit, resulting in the conversion of many of the students.
The Pittsburgh conference made an attempt to establish a collegiate institution within its bounds, called Madison College, and the Rev. Henry B. Bascom was appointed its president. It was located in Uniontown, Fayette county, in the state of Pennsylvania. It went into operation under favorable auspices, and was incorporated, in 1827, by the legislature of the state. It did not, however, long continue. Its endowment was small, and the number of students was by no means adequate to its support. Hence, though blessed with an able faculty, its dissolution affords another evidence of the impracticability of sustaining collegiate institutions without ample endowments. How else can this be done? The price of tuition is necessarily so low, in the various literary institutions in our country, that an attempt to raise it sufficiently high to meet the expense of tuition and other incidental expenses would be to debar all students from an entrance into their inclosures; and it is equally impossible to sustain them from the ordinary prices of tuition and board; and hence the absolute necessity of ample endowments, either from the state, or from the benefactions of individuals, or by the more sure method of annual collections, in order to keep them in successful operation. Of this all must be sensible, and therefore all who feel an interest in the prosperity of these institutions must, if they would have them permanently established, contribute liberally for their support.
In the month of September this year was commenced the publication of the Christian Advocate, a weekly periodical, devoted especially to the interests of the Methodist Episcopal Church and to general intelligence. Periodical literature had become more and more in demand since the recommencement of the Methodist Magazine, and weekly religious newspapers were springing into existence among almost all denominations of Christians; and two, one in Boston, Mass., and another in Charleston, S. C., were published under the patronage of their respective conferences, and the friends of the Church very generally seemed to call for one to be issued from the Book Room. This led to a consultation among the editors and book committee, together with some of the annual conferences; the proposition was finally submitted to the New York conference, at its session in May of this year, and it recommended that measures be adopted for the publication of such a periodical with all convenient speed.
It is true, some were opposed to the measure, particularly those who were interested in the success of the papers already in existence, which had now obtained an extensive circulation, particularly Zion's Herald, the one issued in Boston. This opposition, however, was overruled, and the first number of the Christian Advocate was published on the 9th of September, 1826.
The appearance of this weekly sheet, filled, as it was, with useful and interesting matter, gave great satisfaction to the members and friends of our Church, and the number of subscribers in a very short time amounted to about thirty thousand. That it has done much good, and was most opportunely commenced, has been abundantly demonstrated in every successive year of its circulation, and by the testimony of thousands of its readers. By this means intelligence is received from every part of the world, and conveyed, weekly, as from a common center of information, to its thousands of readers in every comer of the land. Thus old friends, who may be separated at a distance of thousands of miles, may hear from each other, interchange sentiments, and, in some sense, converse together of each other's welfare; and what the Lord is doing in one part of his vineyard may be known in every other part. This is the advantage which a general possesses over a local paper. This was extensively felt and appreciated, and hence its circulation, in the course of one year from its commencement, by far exceeded every other paper, religious or secular, published in the United States.
Sixty-three preachers located this year, sixty-six were returned supernumerary, eighty-six superannuated, two withdrew, and six were expelled; twenty had died.
Among the deaths recorded this year was that of John Summerfield, whose eminent talents as a preacher gave him a commanding attitude before the community, and excited a general tone of regret when the news of his death was announced. For a full account of his life and labors I must refer the reader to his biography, which was published by his brother-in-law soon after his death. From this it appears that he was born in the town of Preston, in England, on the 31st of January, 1795. His father was a local preacher in the Wesleyan Methodist connection in England, and he educated his son John in those religious principles which governed his own heart and life. At a suitable age he was put under the tuition of the Moravian academy at Fairfield, near Manchester, where he gave early indications of that precocious genius for which he was afterward so eminently distinguished.
In 1813 the family removed to Ireland, where, at the age of seventeen, young Summerfield was made a partaker of justifying grace through faith in Jesus Christ while attending a prayer meeting with some pious Methodist soldiers. He no sooner tasted that the Lord is gracious than he felt a desire that others should participate with him in the same inestimable blessing. He accordingly embraced every opportunity to invite his fellow-sinners to come to the fountain of salvation, that they might drink of its waters and live for ever. In this way he continued to exercise his gifts, greatly to the satisfaction of those who heard him, until 1819, when he was received on trial in the Methodist conference of Ireland. As it was a time of some trouble among the Methodist societies in Ireland in those days, and as the fervor of his spirit and powers of pulpit oratory gave him more than ordinary influence, young as he was, he was selected to travel extensively through the country, for the purpose of promoting the general interests of the societies. He continued to travel and preach in Ireland, making, in the mean time, an occasional visit to England, until 1821, when his father removed to America, and John accompanied him, and was received on trial in the New York conference in the spring of 1821. 
His first appearance in public after his arrival in New York was at the anniversary of the American Bible Society, and his speech on that occasion was received with great elation, and gave him a most favorable introduction to the American community. Nor were his labors in the pulpit unappreciated. The houses were thronged with hearers whenever he preached, and the auditors hung upon his lips with the most intense interest and delight. Persons of all professions and of all classes of society were attracted by the fame of his eloquence, and expressed their admiration of the power with which he enchained them to the words which dropped from his lips.
Many have inquired in what the secret of this power over the understandings and attention of the multitude consisted. In whatever else it might have consisted, it was not in empty declamations, in boisterous harangues, nor yet in any attempt to overpower and astonish you with sudden bursts of eloquence; nor was it, I apprehend, in the unusual depth. and profoundness of his researches.
Summerfield was young, was pious, honest, and simple-hearted, was naturally eloquent, deeply devoted to the cause of God, possessed a great command of language, and his style of preaching was chaste and classical, flowing from him with an easy and graceful elocution. This I believe to be the secret of his power. He had a sound understanding, a warm heart, and a vivid imagination -- had acquired a rich stock of the most useful knowledge and hence, whenever he spoke in the name of God, he poured forth from a heart overflowing with the kindliest feelings a stream of evangelical truth, which fell upon the audience "like dew upon the under herb, and like rain upon the mown grass." A "godly sincerity" was evidently the pervading principle of his heart, and a tone of simplicity characterized his style of preaching. When you heard him you were charmed with the melody of his voice, with the rich flow of his language, with the pure and evangelical sentiments which he uttered, and with the deep spirit of piety running through his whole performance. No strained efforts to dazzle you with wit, or with high-sounding words, with pompous periods, with far-fetched metaphors, or with sentences swelled and encumbered with an accumulation of epithets, appeared in any of his discourses or speeches. On the contrary, you felt that you were listening to a messenger of God, honestly proclaiming what he believed to be the truth, in language chaste and elegant, flowing from a heart filled with his subject, breathing good-will to his audience, and intent only on doing them good. This was John Summerfield in the pulpit; and his popularity arose from an active zeal, exemplified in his spirit and words, to promote the best interests of all classes of men by the wisest possible means.
Nor was his society in the more private circles less attractive and instructive. On his first appearance among us there was a modesty and diffidence, a meekness and humility, every way becoming a Christian and a young minister who felt a proper deference for his seniors. To say that he did not, in some measure at least, rise in self-confidence with the rising popularity of his character, would be saying what no one acquainted with human nature could well believe. But the elevation of his character, as a preacher of the gospel, gave him a commanding attitude before the community, which he constantly exerted to promote the highest interests of his fellow-men. He certainly bore his honors with becoming modesty, and availed himself of his great popularity to advance the honor of God and the salvation of men. Though the minister of a sect, and thoroughly imbued with its doctrine and spirit, he was far from being exclusive in his feelings and views, hut displayed that spirit of Catholicism which enabled him to exert a hallowing influence on all around him. And while he must have carried about him the common infirmities of our nature, they were but as occasional spots upon the sun they obscured his luster but, for a moment, and then his intellectual, moral, and religious excellences shone out with an increasing and a steady brilliancy:
He most certainly exerted a beneficial influence upon the interests of true religion. Nor was this influence confined to his own Church. Other denominations, and particularly the various charitable and religious associations, availed themselves of his talents to advocate their cause and to promote their respective objects. And as he was ever ready to comply with their wishes, as before said, his physical powers were not adequate to the task of such continued application. The fire which burned within became so intense that the material vessel was gradually weakened by its consuming flames. He was at first prostrated by a hemorrhage of the lungs, from which, however, he partially recovered, so as to be able to appear occasionally in public. But his appearance was extremely wan and feeble, while his soul still broke forth in those strains of gospel truth and persuasive eloquence which captivated his hearers and melted them into tenderness.
It was hoped by his friends that a voyage to Europe might tend to reinvigorate his enfeebled constitution. He accordingly made a voyage to France, and attended the anniversary of the Paris Bible Society as a representative of the American Bible Society, where he delivered one of those addresses for which he was so peculiarly qualified, as the zealous and able advocate of institutions of benevolence. This address, which was interpreted by Mr. Wilder, an American gentleman, and a benevolent Christian, then residing in Paris, was received with enthusiastic admiration by the audience, and responded to in terms of affectionate respect and congratulation, expressive of the joy that was felt in the union of sentiment and effort which mutually pervaded and actuated the Paris and American Bible Societies.
On his return from his foreign tour he entertained hopes, for a season, that his health might be restored; but these hopes were soon blasted by the return of his disease, accompanied by those symptoms which gave sure indications to his physicians and friends that his dissolution was nigh at hand. After lingering for a considerable time, frequently suffering exquisitely from the violence of his disorder, he at last glided sweetly and peacefully into eternity, in the twenty-eighth year of his age, and the eighth of his public ministry.
During his protracted illness he exhibited the virtues of meekness and patience in an eminent degree, bowing submissively to the divine mandate, and looking forward with a lively hope to immortality and eternal life. Though sometimes he complained of the want of spiritual consolation, and of a feeling of mental gloom which arose, no doubt, from the nature of his disease yet for most of the time he manifested an unshaken confidence in his God, and expressed a calm resignation to his will, mingled with a hope full of immortality. But he rests from his labors, and his works of faith and labors of love have followed him as evidences of his fidelity to the cause of God.
Another who fell in the harness this year was an old veteran of the cross of Christ, whose long services and deep devotion to the cause of God deserve commemoration.
Daniel Asbury had been in the ministry forty years, during which time he had given evidence of his warm attachment to the holy cause he had espoused, by the fidelity with which he had discharged his Christian and ministerial duties. He was not, indeed, a great preacher, but he was remarkably distinguished for the meekness of his disposition, for his patience in suffering, and for the simplicity of his manners. He therefore won the confidence of his brethren as a man of God, and a most devoted minister of Jesus Christ.
His death was sudden and peaceful. Returning from a walk in the yard, he looked up toward heaven, with a smile on his countenance, and uttering a few words, he sunk into the arms of death, in the sixty-fifth year of his age.
Daniel Hitt had also departed to another world in the full hope of eternal life. He was made a partaker of the grace of pardon in early life, and in 1790 entered the itinerant ministry. In the first years of his itinerancy he labored much in the new settlements in Virginia and in the western country, where he won for himself those laurels which adorn the brow of the faithful, self-denying minister of Jesus Christ. For several years he was the traveling companion of Bishop Asbury, who ever treated him as his confidential friend. During these travels over the continent he became extensively known to a large circle of friends, who esteemed him highly as a brother, and as an amiable Christian minister.
In 1808 he was elected as an assistant book agent, in which office he served for four years, under the supervision of the Rev. John Wilson. At the end of this term he was elected the principal, in which office he continued to discharge its duties, according to the best of his ability, to the end of his constitutional term, in 1816. Though his literary attainments were limited, yet his strict integrity and great fidelity eminently fitted him for a faithful discharge of his duties in the high trust confided to him. And the affability of his manners, the sweetness of his disposition, and his courteous conduct in the social circle, endeared him to his friends, as a companion in whose society they delighted to mingle.
In the pulpit he dwelt chiefly upon experimental and practical religion, seldom entering upon those controverted points which so often involve discussions among the several denominations of Christians. Here he was solemn and dignified, and strove to impress upon the minds of all the importance of a practical attention to the truths which he uttered.
He died of the typhus fever. In his sickness his mind was kept in peace, and he died in the triumph of faith and love.
Another aged veteran, Joseph Toy, was taken from the walls of our Jerusalem to his resting place above. He was brought from darkness to light under the preaching of Captain Webb, who was one of the first Methodist preachers in America, and was at that time preaching in Burlington, New Jersey. This was in the year 1770, and Joseph was then in the twenty-second year of his age. After receiving license to preach, he labored as a local preacher until 1801, when he entered the itinerancy, in which he continued, faithfully discharging its duties, to the end of his life.
In 1819, in consequence of debility, he was returned superannuated, and he settled in the city of Baltimore, where he preached occasionally, and was beloved and respected by all who knew him. Having filled up the measure of his days in obedience to the will of God, he died in great peace, on the 28th day of January, 1826, in the seventy-ninth year of his age.
One of the excellences of brother Toy was the punctuality with which he filled his engagements. At the age of seventy he was heard to say that for twenty years he had not disappointed a congregation -- a practice worthy of the imitation of all. Although, in the latter part of his life, his sight so failed him that it was difficult for him to walk the streets without help, yet he continued to preach almost every sabbath, and sometimes twice, and was finally conducted from the pulpit to his dying bed, on which he manifested a perfect submission to the divine will, expressing his firm reliance upon the promise of eternal life.
John P. Finley, professor of languages in the Augusta College, Kentucky, had entered into rest during the past year. Though he was young in the itinerant ministry, yet he was a man of distinguished worth, and possessed virtues which may be profitably held up or the imitation of others. The following account is from the pen of Dr. Bascom, whose intimate knowledge of the subject of his remarks enabled him to depict the character of brother Finley as it was, and especially to present those peculiarities by which he was distinguished: --
"John P. Finley was born in North Carolina, June 13th, 1783. From childhood he was marked as possessing no common share of intellect. He was early placed at school, and while in his abecedarian [beginning -- DVM] course he evinced an aptitude to learn that induced his father, a distinguished Presbyterian clergyman, (who is now, at the age of seventy, a Methodist traveling preacher,) to give him a classical education. Owing to his habits of industry and perseverance, he soon acquired a competent knowledge of the sciences, and a reputable acquaintance with the learned languages. Of the English language he was a perfect master, and taught its proper use with almost unrivaled success. From the age of twelve or fourteen years he was often deeply affected with a sense of sin, and the importance of repentance and faith; but his mind was so much perplexed with the doctrines of absolute personal predestination, of which his father was then a strenuous and able assertor, that he came to no decision on the subject of religious opinions until he reached the years of manhood. About the age of twenty-one he married, and soon after was brought to the knowledge of salvation by the remission of his sins. Early after his conversion he was convinced that a dispensation of the gospel' had been committed to him. He weighed well the impressions and convictions of his mind and heart in relation to the fearful and responsible business of a Christian minister; but, when finally and fully convinced of his duty, he did not hesitate. There were, indeed, many reasons why he should confer with flesh and blood, but with his characteristic firmness he rejected them all, and took the pulpit, I think, in 1811. At the time of his conversion he resided in Highland county, Ohio. His ministerial career was commenced during a residence in Union, Greene county, Ohio, whither he had been called to take charge of a seminary. At the head of this institution he continued about six years, living and preaching the religion of Christ in its native simplicity and power.
"From Union he removed to Dayton, distant only about thirty miles, and conducted an academy in this place for two years. It was here our acquaintance and intimacy commenced, which ended only with his useful life. He left Dayton, beloved and regretted of all, and accepted a call to superintend a respectable seminary in Steubenville, Ohio. In this place he continued not quite two years. In his ministerial exertions he was instant in season and out of season,' and labored with more than ordinary success. His next remove was to Piqua, Ohio, where he continued as principal of an academy for four years. In all these places his pulpit efforts were highly acceptable; his social intercourse seasoned with dignity and piety, and his residence a blessing to all about him. From this place he made his last remove to Augusta, Kentucky. Here he taught a classical school for some time, and was afterward appointed principal of Augusta College, in which relation. he continued until the time of his death. In these several places his labors in the pulpit were considerable and extensively useful. All who knew him esteemed him as a man of talents and irreproachable Christian character. He was indeed, all in all, one of the most amiable, guileless men I ever knew: never did I know a man more perfectly under the influence of moral and religious principle. His uniform course was one of high and unbending rectitude. One error, as reported in the Minutes,' respecting his conversion, I must beg leave to correct. I do it upon his own authority (when living) and that of his brother, the Rev. James B. Finley, superintendent of the Wyandot mission . There is something rather remarkable in the manner in which these worthy ministers were first brought to reflect with more than ordinary concern upon their latter end. John and James were amusing themselves in the forest with their guns; and as John was sitting carelessly upon his horse, James's gun accidentally went off, and the contents came very near entering John's head. The brothers were mutually alarmed, humbled, and thankful; they were more than ever struck with the melancholy truth, that in the midst of life we are in death;' they reflected upon their unpreparedness to meet death and appear in judgment. Each promised the other he would reform; and the result was, they were both led to seek religion, as the only preparation for eternity. Both the brothers agree in stating that this circumstance was the means, in the hand of God, of their awakening and conversion, as neither of them was in the habit of attending the preaching of the gospel before the inquietude and alarm created by this occasion. I have been thus minute in detailing the immediate means of his conversion, at the request of a surviving brother, in whose estimation the apparent incompetency of the means magnifies the grace of God in this singular dispensation of blended mercy and providence.
"John P. Finley was in the ministry about fifteen years. He was ordained deacon by Bishop Asbury, on the 17th of September, 1815. He received ordination as elder at the hands of Bishop Roberts, July 2, 1820. At the time of his death he was a member of the Kentucky annual conference -- actively dividing his time and energies between the business of collegiate instruction and the labor of the pulpit.
"As a man, the subject of these recollections was engagingly amiable, ingenuous, and agreeable; equally removed from affectation and reserve, the circle in which he moved felt the presence of a friend and the influence of a Christian and minister.
"As a teacher his excellence was acknowledged by all who were competent to decide upon his claims; and though he gloried most in being found a pupil in the school of Christ, yet he was no stranger to the academy and lyceum.
"As a husband, there is one living whose tears have been his eulogy, and to whom, with his orphan children, friendship inscribes these lines. As a father, he was worthy of his children, and in pointing them to another and better world he was always careful to leave the way himself.
"As a friend, he was warm, ardent, and confiding, and not less generous than constant; his intimate friends, however, were few and well selected.
"As a minister, in the pulpit, he was able, impressive, and overwhelming. The cross of his redemption was his theme, and in life and death it became to him the emphasis of every joy.' In all these relations knew him well, and can therefore speak from the confidence of personal knowledge and accredited information.
"The last time I saw him I preached a sermon, at his request, on the Inspiration of the Scriptures.' When I had retired to my room, he called on me, in company with a friend, and in his usual frank manner embraced me, and observed, H____, I thank you for that sermon, and I expect to repeat my gratitude in heaven.' Little did I think, at this interview, I was gazing on my friend for the last time, and that in eighteen months his ripened virtues were to receive the rewards of the heavenly world! But so it was, and I, less fit to die, am spared another and another year.
"He died on the 8th of May, 1825, in the forty-second year of his age and sixteenth of his ministry; and at the same time that his bereaved family wept upon his grave, the sadness of the Church told that she had lost one of her brightest ornaments. Just before his triumphant spirit rose to sink and sigh no more, he was asked how he felt, and what were his prospects upon entering the dark valley and shadow of death. He replied, in language worthy of immortality, Not the shadow of a doubt; I have Christ within, the hope of glory -- that comprehends all;' and then, with the proto-martyr, he fell asleep.'
"Such is a very imperfect sketch of the life, character, and death of John P. Finley. God grant, reader, that you and I may share the glory that gilded the last hours of his toil."
Of Nathan Walker, Martin Flint, William Young, Thomas Wright, John White, Henry P. Cook, Christopher Mooring, David Stevens, Sylvester G. Hill, Ezekiel Canfield, William S. Pease, Samuel G. Atkins, and Damon Young, who had departed this life during the past year, it is recorded that they all finished their course with joy.
Numbers in the Church: Whites This Year: 309,550; Last Year: 298,658; Increase: 10,892 -- Colored This Year: 51,334; Last Year: 49,537; Increase: 1,797 -- Total This Year: 360,884; Last Year: 348,195 -- Increase: 12,689 -- Preachers This Year: 1,406; Last Year: 1,314; Increase: 92.
This year the "Sunday School Union of the Methodist Episcopal Church" was formed in the city of New York. The reader, however, is not to infer from this that the Methodists now for the first time entered upon the work of Sunday school instruction. In the first volume of this History we have seen that sabbath schools were commenced among the Methodists in this country as early as 1790, but were soon discontinued for want of sufficient encouragement. The origin of these schools in England is well known; and Mr. Wesley was among the first to patronize and recommend them to his people, and they soon became very general throughout his societies.
It was about the year 1816 that the several denominations of evangelical Christians in this country began to turn their attention to Sunday school instruction, and the plan of a union was formed for the purpose of harmonizing their views and concentrating their efforts, under an impression that by these means more good might be effected to the rising generation than by separate and denominational action. This resulted in the formation of the "American Sunday School Union," which was located in the city of Philadelphia, and extended itself, by means of auxiliaries, all over the United States, embracing all evangelical denominations, or so many of each as chose to unite with them. Into this union our people had in some places entered. By the parent society books were issued, agents employed to travel through the country to promote its objects, and a weekly periodical commenced, devoted especially to the interests of sabbath schools.
With this general union, however, all were not satisfied. Most of the Protestant Episcopalians chose to conduct their schools independently of the American Union, and many of the Methodists were uneasy under this regulation; and, after much consultation, it was finally agreed to form a Sunday school society of our own, under such regulations as should be conformable to our doctrinal and other peculiarities. The reasons for this measure I cannot express better than in the following address, which was sent out by the managers immediately after the formation of the society. It fully unfolds the motives and objects by which its founders were actuated. It is as follows: --
"In approaching you on the subject to which your attention is now invited, the managers take the liberty of stating a few things which have dictated the propriety of forming the society designated by the above constitution. They can assure you that they have not been led hastily into this measure, but, according to their best ability, have Carefully weighed every circumstance connected with it, having deliberately consulted with each other, and with their most aged and experienced brethren, both preachers and private members of the Church.
"The Methodist Episcopal Church is now composed of nearly four hundred thousand members, upward of fourteen hundred traveling preachers, and perhaps more than double that number of local preachers. From the peculiar organization of this Church, all these are considered as one body, adopting the same doctrines, discipline, mode of church government, and, the managers would hope, actuated by the same spirit, under the same great Head of the church, striving to preserve the unity of the Spirit in the bonds of peace.' These, together with the regular attendants on the Methodist ministry, make a population, including children, of not less than two millions, which are dependent on the ministrations of our Church.
"Without even insinuating the want of soundness in the cardinal principles of Christianity, in the major part of other Christian denominations in our country, calling in question the purity of their motives or ardency of their zeal, the managers will not conceal the fact, that they give a decided preference to their own Church, firmly believing its doctrines and discipline, and have witnessed with unspeakable joy its surprising progress in so short a time, and its salutary influence on the hearts and lives of so many happy thousands. It is a truth as evident as the blaze of the sun at mid-day, that the first impetus which was given to the great work of reformation now going forward in the world, God gave through the instrumentality of the Wesleys and their coadjutors in the ministry of reconciliation.' The introduction into this country of a spiritual and energetic itinerating ministry, first begun' by those men of God, has produced results at once astonishing and delightful. Others have caught the missionary Spirit, and have entered into the work with zeal and success. In spreading pure religion, the managers wish them all good speed.
"Among other effects of this great work, by which the present age is distinguished, sabbath school instruction is not the least. The primary object of the first promoters of this work was to afford elementary instruction to such poor children as were destitute of common day school education, and at the same time to give such religions instruction as is suited to the age and capacity of the children. The utility of this mode of imparting knowledge to the juvenile mind soon became apparent to all denominations of Christians, and in the large towns and cities especially they have less or more availed themselves of its advantages. In the progress of the work, in our country, efforts have been made to unite all sects and parties in one general society, called The American Sunday School Union Society;' and while many have come into this union, others, thinking it best to manage their own affairs in their own way, remain in all insulated state, or have arrayed themselves under the standard of their own denomination.
"Among others who have hitherto stood alone, there are many belonging to our Church. Not feeling inclined to connect themselves with the general union, and finding no center of union in their own Church, they have long felt the inconvenience of their insulated state. As the Methodist Book Concern is located in the city of New York, it was natural for them to look to this place for aid. Accordingly, frequent applications have been made to the agents of that establishment in reference to this subject. It was at once perceived that this establishment afforded facilities for printing and circulating books suitable for Sunday schools, as well as the receiving and sending out, through the medium of the periodical works printed there, all necessary information in relation to their institution which could not be obtained elsewhere; and the agents of that Concern have pledged themselves to the society that Sunday school books shall be furnished by them as cheap as they can be obtained at any other place.
"These circumstances led to the idea of forming a Sunday School Union for the Methodist Episcopal Church. But here, at the outset, many difficulties were to be encountered. Most of those in our Church engaged in Sunday schools in the city of New York were connected with the general union; and though some things had recently transpired of which they could not wholly approve, they were strongly attached to the union, having labored in this work with their brethren of other denominations with much harmony and Christian feeling; but, after deliberating with calmness on all the circumstances of the case, the managers are convinced that duty enjoins it on them, because more good may be ultimately accomplished, to form a union for the Church of which they are members, independent of the American Union. Experiment alone will test the correctness of this opinion.
"It has already been observed, that the primary object of Sunday schools was to impart elementary instruction, mixed with religious improvement, to those children who were destitute of the advantages derived from common schools. Though this original object ought never to be abandoned, yet the general diffusion of this sort of instruction in our country, through the medium of common schools, and public and private free schools, renders this object less essential. Hence religious instruction is the grand and primary object of Sunday school instruction in our day and among our children. On this account, how, ever humiliating the fact, a general union of all parties becomes the more difficult. Whatever may be the intention, each teacher of religion will more or less inculcate his own peculiar views of Christianity, and thus insensibly create party feelings and interests. And this difficulty is increased by the practice recently adopted by the employment of missionaries who are to be supported from the funds of the general institution. The managers are of the opinion, that the most likely way for the several denominations to live and labor together in peace, is for each to conduct its own affairs, and still to hold out the hand of fellowship to its neighbor. They therefore disclaim all unfriendly feeling toward others who may be engaged in this good work. They wish them all success in diffusing moral and religious influence on the minds of youth, and hope always to be ready to reciprocate any at of kindness which may contribute to strengthen each other's hands in the work in which they are mutually engaged.
"Having thus explained the views of the society, the managers would now call on their brethren and friends to unite with them, by establishing, wherever it is practicable, Sunday school associations auxiliary to this society. To give a direction to this work, and to produce as much uniformity as local circumstances will allow, the form of a constitution suitable for auxiliary societies is herewith submitted.
"One principal reason for locating the parent society in New York, in preference to any other place, is the facilities afforded by our Book Concern for printing and circulating books. The agents of that growing establishment hold an extensive correspondence with every part of our country, and possess the readiest means of communicating information on every subject connected with Sunday school instruction, and can supply any auxiliary with books on the shortest notice and cheapest terms. And it will be perceived, by an article in the constitution, that by paying three dollars into the funds of the institution, sending a list of its officers, and a copy of its annual report, an auxiliary is entitled to purchase books at the reduced prices. A list of the books, with the prices annexed, will hereafter be furnished through the medium of the Advocate and Journal.
"That an itinerating ministry possesses advantages peculiar to itself, in promoting objects of benevolence, will not be, by any, disputed. This, as well as the manner in which our Book Concern is conducted, supersedes the necessity and the expense of employing separate agencies in order to carry on the work of Sunday school instruction. The funds, therefore, which may be raised, can be appropriated to the purchase of books.
"It will be perceived from the constitution, that it is the design of this society, by means of auxiliaries, to comprehend every part of our Church in this great and good cause. The senior bishop is constituted the president, and the other four bishops are vice presidents; and provision is made for each annual conference to elect a vice president from its own body; and he board of managers being located in New York, a center of union is formed for the whole community, and all being connected with our Book Concern, an easy channel of communication is opened, by which books may be printed and circulated, and remittances and information made and received.
"These being the views and objects of the society, the managers think that they may confidently call on their brethren and friends for their aid and cooperation. To the ministers of the Church, especially, do they look for an efficient effort in carrying the benevolent design into practical operation. Let them think on the numerous children unbosomed in the Church, which they are appointed to nourish with the sincere milk of the word. These are the lambs of the flock, which, that they may become the sheep of God's pasture, must be tenderly nursed. Let them, therefore, be gathered into the fold of sabbath schools, put under the care of faithful shepherds, who will watch over their welfare, instill into their minds moral and religious truth, and thus prepare them, under the influence of divine grace, to become faithful followers of the chief Shepherd and Bishop of their souls.
"The managers conclude by commending their cause to God and to the prayers of their brethren, that they may be wisely directed in this arduous enterprise, and by saying that any suggestion, by which the system may be improved, so as to accomplish more perfectly the purposes of its organization, will be thankfully received and duly considered."
The following article in the constitution of the society will show what were its objects: --
"The objects of this society shall be, to promote the formation and to concentrate the efforts of sabbath schools connected with the congregations of the Methodist Episcopal Church, and all others that may become auxiliary; to aid in the instruction of the rising generation, particularly in the knowledge of the Holy Scriptures, and in the service and worship of God."
Provision was then made for the formation of auxiliary societies, and other matters usually connected with Sunday school operations, for furnishing books, funds, &c.
The constitution was adopted and the society formed on the second day of April, 1827, and it commenced its operations under the most favorable auspices. The measure, indeed, was very generally approved., and hailed with grateful delight by our brethren and friends throughout the country. It received the sanction of the several annual conferences, who recommended to the people of their charge to form auxiliary societies in every circuit and station, and send to the general depository in New York for their books; and such were the zeal and unanimity with which they entered into this work, that a the first annual meeting of the society there were reported 251 auxiliary societies, 1,025 schools, 2,045 superintendents, 10,290 teachers, and 63,240 scholars, besides about 2,000 managers and visitors. Never, therefore, did an institution go into operation under more favorable circumstances, or was hailed with a more universal joy, than the Sunday School Union of the Methodist Episcopal Church.
Our separation, however, from the general union, and the establishment of a distinct organization, provoked no little opposition from some quarters, and led the managers into an investigation of the origin of Sunday schools, both in Europe and America, and the facts elicited were spread before the community in their first annual report. By this it appeared, as before stated, that although Mr. Raikes might have been the first to organize regular sabbath schools in England, yet Mr. Wesley was among the first to patronize them, and the very first to furnish teachers who gave their services gratuitously; that even the British and Foreign Bible Society originated from the exertions of a Methodist preacher who had been laboring in the sabbath school cause in Wales; and that in America they had been taught among the Methodists, amidst storms of reproach and persecution, long before they were ever thought of by other denominations. These facts were amply ported by irrefutable testimony, and they therefore served to put the question at rest respecting the origin and permanent establishment of sabbath schools in England, and their subsequent progress in this country. 
That the formation of this society has had a most happy effect upon the interests of the rising generation, particularly those under the influence of our own denomination, there can be no doubt. As many of our people were not pleased with the movements of the American Union, and some who were connected with it felt dissatisfied in that relation, they had not entered so heartily nor so generally as was desirable into the work of sabbath school instruction; but now, every objection arising from these sources being removed, a general and almost simultaneous action in favor of this important cause commenced throughout our ranks, and it has continued steadily increasing to the present time, exerting a hallowing influence upon all who come under its control and direction.
And we rejoice to know that the American Union, as well as those existing separately among other denominations, has exerted, and is still exerting, a Similar in influence on all who come within the sphere of its and their operations. Let them be conducted in the fear of God, under the superintendence of men and women who enjoy and exemplify experimental and practical godliness, and they shall form an effectual barrier against the overflowings of infidelity and its kindred errors and vices, and continue as a lofty beacon to direct the youthful mind into the channel of gospel truth and holiness. The mere question of their origin, however honorable it may be to their originator, is lost amidst the blaze of glory which shall surround the churches by the conscientious labors of those who have conducted and shall continue to conduct them forward in the spirit of Him who said, "Suffer little children to come unto me, and forbid them not, for of such is the kingdom of God," and who "out of the mouths of babes and sucklings hath perfected praise." The high approbation of God is to be prized above a thousand wreaths of mere human laurels. The latter will fade and die, while the former will cause the individual on whom it falls to bloom in immortal vigor around the throne above. Instead, therefore, of contending about the fact to whom the honor belongs of beginning this mighty machinery which is performing such wonders of mercy to the rising generation, let us bless God for raising up such a man as Raikes, for such a powerful patron as Wesley, and for inspiring so many of his servants to exert their strength to perpetuate this means of doing good from one generation to another.
The Cherokee mission, within the bounds of the Tennessee conference, was extending its influence among that nation with encouraging success. Last year there were four missionaries appointed to labor here, who formed regular circuits, and divided the native converts, now consisting of about four hundred, into classes, and furnished them with the ordinances of the gospel. A native preacher, by the name of Turtle Fields, had been raised up, who became eminently useful to his brethren, as he could speak to them in their own language of the "wonderful works of God."
Though it was the practice of all our missionaries who were sent among the aboriginal tribes, first of all to preach to them the gospel of Christ, yet when they had embraced it, and became reformed in heart and life, they generally forsook their former mode of living, and entered upon the arts of civilized man. Indeed, this was the secret of our success. Every attempt which had been made to reform the savages of our wildernesses, by introducing the arts of civilization first, and by initiating them into the knowledge of letters before they were converted to Christianity, has failed of success. Instead of pursuing this round-about method to bring them to the knowledge of God and of his Son Jesus Christ, our missionaries have addressed themselves directly to their hearts, recited to them the simple narrative of the life, the sufferings, the death, and the resurrection of Jesus Christ, and impressed upon their minds the grand truth, that all this was for them, and that, in believing it heartily, even they should be "saved from their sins." This method, and this only, has taken effect. A believing knowledge of the love of God in Christ Jesus has melted them into tenderness; and the light of divine truth, thus shining upon their hearts, has revealed to them their wretchedness as sinners, and brought them as humble penitents to the foot of the cross, where they have waited in humble supplication until Christ made them free. And then, after being thus liberated from the bondage of sin, and brought into the liberties of the gospel, they have been conducted with the utmost ease to the practice of the domestic arts, and to all the usages of civilized life.
This was the case with these converted Cherokees and others. "The traveler," says the report of the committee of the Tennessee conference for this year, "through their settlements, observing cottages erecting, regular towns building, farms cultivated, the sabbath regularly observed, and almost an entire change in the character and pursuits of the people, is ready to ask, with surprise, Whence this change? The answer is, The Lord Jesus, in answer to the prayers of thousands of his people, is receiving the accomplishment of the promise, I will give thee the heathen for thine inheritance. Here is a nation at our door, our neighbors," (once) "remarkable for their ferocity and ignorance, now giving the most striking evidence of the utility of missionary exertions." Two houses of worship had been erected, one of which, having been consumed by fire, was rebuilt this year by the natives themselves, without any expense to the mission.
For the benefit of the youth schools were established, and the children soon gave evidence of their capacity and willingness to learn, two of whom gave promise of usefulness as preachers of the gospel to their own nation. These were placed under the special care of the Rev. William McMahon, the superintendent of the mission. So evident was the change which had been wrought in the hearts and lives of these people, that even those who had no interest in the mission were constrained to acknowledge the hand of God. So rapidly, indeed, did the work spread, that in 1825 the number of converted natives had increased to eight hundred, and seven missionaries were employed in that interesting field of labor, including Turtle Fields, who was now eminently distinguished for his deep piety, and diligence in promoting the interests of the mission. The white missionaries were also greatly assisted by another converted Cherokee, a young man of promising talents and piety, who acted as an interpreter to the circuit preacher.
A new mission was begun this year among another branch of the Mississaugas, who resided on Snake and Yellow Head Islands, in Lake Simcoe, Upper Canada. The whole body of Indians who resided here consisted of six hundred, the largest body of any who spoke the Chippeway language this side of Lake Huron. Some of these, hearing a discourse from one of our preachers, became deeply impressed with the leading truths of Christianity, and expressed an earnest desire to have a missionary sent to instruct them. Accordingly some benevolent members of our Church went and established a sabbath school among them. By this simple means more than forty were reclaimed from their pagan superstitions. Such was the success of this mission, after being supplied with a regular missionary, that in 1829 there were four hundred and twenty-nine under religious instruction, three hundred and fifty of whom were orderly members of the Church; one hundred of their children were taught in two separate schools, by a male and female teacher. A schoolhouse and parsonage were built on Snake Island, and a mission-house on Yellow Head Island, and the converts were gradually brought to attend to agricultural and domestic duties.
The other aboriginal missions, heretofore mentioned, were still improving in religion and morals, as well as in the arts of civilized life, and great was the interest manifested by the Christian church in their behalf. This year, however, the Wyandot mission suffered a great loss in the death of Between-the-logs, one of their most eminent chiefs, and an eloquent and able advocate of Christianity. And as he was a chief man among then, and, after his conversion, had exerted a powerful influence in favor of the mission, it is presumed that the reader will be pleased with the following particulars of his life and death, which the author of the History of the Missions under the care of the Methodist Episcopal Church prepared for and published in that work.
"He was born, it is said, in the neighborhood of Lower Sandusky, about the year 1780.  His father was of the Seneca, and his mother a Wyandot of the Bear tribe, from whom he derived his name, Between-the-logs, the name which they give to a bear, signifying to crouch between the logs, because this animal, under peculiar circumstances, lies down between logs; hence the name Between-the-logs, a literal translation of the Bear tribe, was a distinctive appellation of the tribe to which he belonged, and of which he became a chief.
"As he acted a conspicuous part in the nation, and finally became very eminently useful in the cause of Christianity, the following brief account of his life and death will doubtless be acceptable to the reader. When about nine years of age his father and mother separated, and Between-the-logs remained with his father until the death of the latter, when he returned to his mother among the Wyandots. Soon after this he joined the Indian warriors who were defeated by General Wayne. His prompt obedience to the chief, his enterprising disposition, and the faithful discharge of his duties, called him into public notice, and finally raised him to be a chief of the nation; and the soundness of his judgment, his good memory, and his great powers of eloquence, procured for him the office of chief speaker, and the confidential adviser of the head chief.
"When about twenty-five years of age, he was sent to ascertain the doctrines and pretensions of a reputed Seneca prophet, whose imposture he soon detected, and some years after he went on a similar errand to a noted Shawnee prophet, a brother of the famous Tecumseh, with whom he stayed nearly a year; and being fully convinced himself, he was enabled to convince others, that their pretensions to the spirit of prophecy were all a deception.
"At the commencement of hostilities between this country and Great Britain, in 1812, in company with the head chief of the nation, he attended a great council of the northern Indians, collected to deliberate on the question whether they should join the British against the Americans. Here, although powerfully opposed, and even threatened with death if he did not join them, Between-the-logs utterly refused to take up arms against his American brethren, and exerted all his powers to dissuade the Wyandots from involving themselves in this quarrel. Soon after, he and the majority of the warriors belonging to the Wyandots joined the American standard, and accompanied General Harrison in his invasion of Upper Canada. At the conclusion of the war he settled with his brother at Upper Sandusky, and, like most of the savages, indulged himself in intemperance. In one of his fits of intoxication he unfortunately murdered his wife; but, on coming to himself, the recollection of this horrid deed made such an impression on his mind, that he almost entirely abandoned the use of ardent spirits ever afterward.
"In 1817 Between-the logs had an opportunity of displaying his love of justice in behalf of his nation. The Wyandots being persuaded by intriguing men to sign a treaty for the sale of their lands, contrary to his earnest expostulations, he, in company with some others, undertook a journey to Washington on their own responsibility, without consulting any one. When introduced to the secretary of war, the secretary observed to them that he had received no notice of their coming from any of the government agents. To this Between-the logs replied, with noble freedom, We got up and came of ourselves -- we believed the great road was free to us.' He plead the cause of the Indians with such forcible eloquence before the heads of departments at Washington, that they obtained an enlargement of territory, and an increase of their annuities.
"Of his having embraced the gospel, and the aid he rendered to the missionaries to extend its influence among his people, an account has already been given. His understanding being enlightened by divine truth, and his heart moved with compassion for the salvation of his countrymen, he exerted all his powers to bring them to the knowledge of the truth; and such was the success of his efforts, that his brethren gave him license, first to exhort, and then to preach. Some of his speeches before the Ohio conference, which he attended several times, did honor equally to his head and heart, and powerfully enlisted the feelings of the conference in behalf of the mission.
"In the year 1826, he and Mononcue accompanied Mr. Finley on a visit from Sandusky to New York, where they attended several meetings, and among others the anniversary of the Female Missionary Society of New York. Here Between-the-logs spoke with great fire and animation, relating his own experience of divine things, and gave a brief narrative of the work of God among his people. Though he addressed the audience through an interpreter who spoke the English language but imperfectly, yet his speech had a powerful effect upon those who heard him. His voice was musical, his gestures graceful, significant, and dignified, and his whole demeanor bespoke a soul full of lofty ideas and full of God. On one occasion he remarked, that when at home he had been accustomed to be addressed by his brethren, but that since he had come here he had heard nothing that he understood, and added, I wonder if the people understand one another', for I see but little effect produced by what is said.' After a few words spoken in reply to this remark, by way of explanation and apology, he kneeled down and offered a most fervent prayer to Almighty God. In this journey, as they passed through the country, they visited Philadelphia, Baltimore, and several of the intervening villages, and held meetings, and took up collections for the benefit of the mission. This tended to excite a missionary spirit among the people, and everywhere Between-the-logs was hailed as a monument of divine mercy and grace, and as a powerful advocate for the cause of Christianity; and he, together with those who accompanied him, left a most favorable impression behind them of the good effects of the gospel on the savage mind and heart.
"It was very evident to all who beheld him that he could not long continue an inhabitant of this world. Already the consumption was making fearful inroads upon his constitution, and his continual labors in the gospel contributed to hasten its progress to its fatal termination. Very soon after his return to his nation he was confined to his bed. Being asked respecting the foundation of his hope, he replied, It is in the mercy of God in Christ.' I asked him,' says Mr. Gilruth, who was at this time the missionary, of his evidence;' he said, It is the comfort of the Spirit.' I asked him if he was afraid to die;' he said, I am not.' Are you resigned to go?' He cried, I have felt some desires of the world, but they are all gone, and I now feel willing to die or live, as God sees best.' The day before he died he was visited by Mr. Finley, to whom he expressed his unshaken confidence in God, and a firm hope, through Jesus Christ, of eternal life. He finally died in peace, leaving his nation to mourn the loss of a chief and a minister of Jesus Christ to whom they felt themselves much indebted for his many exertions both for their temporal and spiritual prosperity."
Some new settlements in Upper Canada, which had not hitherto been supplied with the word of life, were this year visited by the Rev. George Poole, as a missionary; these formed the Richmond mission; and Mr. Poole succeeded in procuring twelve preaching places, and two hundred Church members were returned on the Minutes for the next year.
The work of God in the older circuits and stations was this year very generally in a prosperous state. Among other places which had been visited with the reviving influences of God's Spirit, the city of New York shared in a considerable degree. Last year a new church had been erected in Willett Street, which was dedicated to the service of Almighty God on May the 7th by Bishop McKendree, and was now well filled with attentive hearers. The congregation in this place had been raised chiefly by the labors of local preachers, assisted occasionally by the preachers stationed in New York, who held their meetings in a private room, then in a school-room, when in 1819 they occupied a mission-house in Broome Street, which had been built by the mission board of the Presbyterian Church, for the purpose of instructing profligate females; but this plan not succeeding according to the benevolent design of its patrons, the house was rented to our trustees, and the appointment was taken into the regular plan, and supplied by the stationed preachers.
God honored this place by giving sanction to the labors of his servants; and in 1823 a gracious work commenced, which had continued with more or less success until the time of which we now speak. Since the new house had been occupied the work of formation had much increased, so that about one hundred and twenty bad been added to the church from the month of June to February. Gracious seasons of refreshing were also blessing the other churches of the city during the year, so that about three hundred and sixty were added to the Church, including white and colored.
It seems that very considerable accessions had been made to the church in the city of New Haven during the years of 1826 and 1827, under the labors of the Rev. Heman Bangs; and as this is a very important position in the state of Connecticut, perhaps a short narrative of the work in this place may not be unacceptable to the reader. New Haven, indeed, may be considered the Athens of this part of New England, being delightfully situated at the head of a convenient harbor, on a sandy plain, just at the termination of those high bluffs called "East and West Rocks," which rise to the height of about four hundred feet, from the summit of which the admirer of natural scenery, beautified by the works of art, may have an extensive and charming view of the surrounding country, the city, the harbor, and the neighboring villages. Here, amidst artificial groves, which render New Haven one of the most rural and pleasant cities on the continent, Yale College rears its stately buildings, together with churches and other public as well as private edifices.
We have already seen that the Rev. Jesse Lee, as early as 1789, visited this place; but the first class was formed by the Rev. Daniel Ostrander, who entered the traveling ministry in 1793, and has continued from that time to this in the itinerant field. This was in the year 1795; and William Thacher and Pember Jocelyn were among the first who joined the Methodist Episcopal Church in New Haven; the former joined the traveling connection in 1797, and has continued a faithful laborer to this day; and the latter became a local preacher, and continued, amidst much opposition, in the early days of Methodism, faithful until death. The first heralds of the cross who visited New Haven found a resting-place in the house of Mr. Gilbert, who, thou dead, yet speaketh in his children and grandchildren, who are following the steps of their sire in the way to heaven, being members of the same Church of which he became an early member and supporter.
But though Methodism had this early beginning in New Haven, the number of its disciples was few, and they remained in a feeble state until they were detached from the circuit and organized as a separate station in 1813, and even for some years after their increase was but small. In the succeeding year the Rev. Gad Smith, a young preacher of good talents, remarkable for the purity of his mind, great simplicity of intention, and fidelity in his work, was stationed in New Haven, and he brought the members into gospel order, built them up in love, and laid a foundation for their future prosperity. Such a laborer, indeed, is rarely found so prudent, so entirely devoted to his work, and so indefatigable in his endeavors to do good to others. But, notwithstanding his pious labors and prudent conduct, the society did not rise into much strength until they succeeded, in 1821 and 1822, by the laudable exertions of the Rev. William Thacher, in building them a commodious house of worship, which was completed and dedicated to God in the spring of 1822, near the termination of Mr. Thacher's labors. During the three years, namely, from 1819 to 1822, the society had increased from thirty-six whites and thirty-five colored to two hundred whites and five colored;  and they had steadily persevered, enlarging their borders and extending their influence, until this year they numbered two hundred and sixteen whites and two colored. They had been blessed with several powerful revivals, and a considerable accession of members, but the constant emigration to the west bad prevented a proportionate increase to their membership.
Revivals of religion were quite prevalent this year in various places; but as I have heretofore so fully narrated the progress of the work, particularly its commencement in any given place, it is judged inexpedient to enter into further details in this place. The results may be seen by a reference to the general increase.
An academy had been commenced at Readfield, under the patronage of the Maine conference, with which manual labor was connected, embracing agricultural and mechanical arts. A benevolent individual consecrated a portion of his wealth, ten thousand dollars, toward the founding of this institution, and it received the sanction of the state by an act of incorporation, under the title of "The Maine Wesleyan Seminary." Here by means of manual labor, the physical as well as mental and moral powers of the student are trained to industry, and thus that sickly constitution, so often the effect of severe study in youth, is prevented, and the "piercing wit and active limb" become mutual aids to each other. In addition to a thorough English education, a regular classical course is pursued, by which the student is fitted to enter college, or upon the more active duties of life.
Sixty-three had located, seventy-seven returned supernumerary, eighty-seven superannuated, one had withdrawn, and six had been expelled. The following had died: -- Archibald McElroy, John Walker, James R. Keach, Arthur McClure, Ellison Taylor, Philip Bruce, James Smith, John Collins, John Creamer, Seth Crowell, John Shaw, and Freeborn Garrettson.
In writing some of these names, we can hardly avoid the reflection, how fast, one after another, the aged veterans of Methodism, who saw it in its first glory, and had contributed so much, by their labors and sacrifices, to lay the foundation for its future prosperity, were removed from the earthly to the heavenly tabernacle. Had I the time, how I should delight to linger along their path, mark their progress, often amidst storms of persecution, tears of sorrow, mingled indeed with shouts of triumph, while they held up the banner of the cross to the listening multitudes who hung on their lips for instruction! Those, indeed, were the chivalrous days of Methodism, when Bruce and Garrettson, often side by side, and then again in separate and distant fields of action, were fighting the battles of their Lord, almost single-handed, and crying, with a loud and distinct voice, to sinners to repent and give glory to God. Such were the men, and such their work, that their names will be transmitted to posterity, surrounded with that halo of glory which can be won only by those who have devoted themselves to so noble a work with such a disinterested zeal as shall put to silence that caviling criticism which would transmute a human infirmity into a moral delinquency, and bury real excellence beneath the rubbish of those imperfections which are inseparable from human beings. For such cavilings we have no fellowship. But for the stern and uncompromising virtues which adorned and fortified the souls of those devoted men of God, several of whose names, accompanied with sketches of their labors and characters, have already been recorded, who first stood on the walls of our Zion, a veneration is felt which it is difficult either to repress or express. Who does not feel the kindlings of gratitude to God for raising up such men, qualifying them for their work, directing and sustaining them in its performance, and then taking them to their final reward?
We trace Philip Bruce back to the persecuted Huguenots, whose ancestors fled to this country to avoid the fury of Louis XIV and his bigoted counselors, who drove those devoted men from the kingdom merely because they would not bow the knee to a wafer god, and acknowledge the pope as the infallible head of the church. His ancestors settled in North Carolina, where Philip was born,  and in early life, by the assiduity of a pious mother, he was taught the fear of God, experienced a change of heart, and, with her, connected himself with the Methodist societies. In 1781, three years before the organization of our Church, he entered the itinerant field of gospel labor, in which he continued faithful until the day of his death. For forty-five years did he stand as a sentinel the walls of our Zion, giving a faithful warning, to all who came within the sound of his voice, of the dangers of a life of sin, and encouraging those who were attempting to "flee the wrath to come," to seek for shelter under the wing of God's mercy. During the whole of this time, some periods of which were seasons of no little peril and suffering, Philip Bruce kept his eye fixed steadily upon the "mark of the prize of his high calling," nor deviated from the straightforward path, until he happily reached the goal for which he run. He traveled extensively on various circuits, presided over several districts, and was sometimes spoken of as a suitable person to fill the office of a superintendent; and wherever he traveled, or whatever station he filled, he won the confidence of his brethren by the honest purpose of his heart, the blamelessness of his life, and by the ability and zeal with which he discharged his high and holy duties.
He was not naturally fluent as a speaker. Considered, therefore, simply as a pulpit orator, he had many defects, often hesitating, as though he hardly knew how to give utterance to his thoughts. Yet the evident sincerity of his heart, manifested by the purity of his life, his knowledge of the sacred Scriptures his sound understanding, and prudence of conduct, gave weight to his words, and commanded attention and respect.
If I were to select any traits of character, by which to distinguish him among others, I should say they were meekness and diffidence. These seemed to shine through all his actions, to sit prominently on his countenance, and to dictate and guide him in all he said and did. He thus imbibed the sacred lesson taught by his Lord and Master, "Learn of me, for I am meek and lowly of heart."
In his public addresses he was wont to interrupt the regular chain of discourse by putting up a fervent ejaculation to God for divine aid, and for a blessing upon his labors -- a practice which was very common among the older Methodist preachers, arising, no doubt, from a feeling sense of their dependence on God for help.
The late Dr. William Phoebus, speaking of Philip Bruce, remarked, that once, while hearing him preach, he began to hesitate, as if at a loss what to say next, and then broke forth in prayer, and finally said to the people, "I beg of you to pray for me, for you know that I cannot preach unless assisted from above." This broke him loose from his embarrassment, and he went on with his discourse, to the astonishment of all present. At other times there was an air of pleasantness -- not trifling -- arising, apparently, from the buoyancy of his spirits, which made him extremely agreeable to those intimately acquainted with him, but which sometimes presented him unfavorably to others. With him, however, all was sincerity, aiming constantly to benefit his fellow-men by the best means he could select.
In 1817, with much reluctance, as though unwilling to acknowledge himself outdone by any, he took a superannuated relation, and removed soon after to Elk river, in the state of Tennessee, and spent the remainder of his days there with his aged mother and his brethren. Ascertaining that it was his intention to move to that part of the country, his brethren in the Virginia conference, many of whom had been raised under his fostering care, affectionately and earnestly requested him to remain among them, which, however, he respectfully declined. And nothing can more strikingly show the strength of their affection for him, and evince the high estimation in which he was held, than the fact, that not long before his death the Virginia conference sent him an invitation to pay them a friendly visit, that they might once more mingle their prayers and praise together. This also he declined in the following words: --
"Many affectionate ties bind me to the Virginia conference. Your expressions of good-will have awakened the tenderest friendships of my soul; but it is very probable that I shall never see you again; for though in my zeal I sometimes try to preach, my preaching is like old Priam's dart -- thrown by an arm enfeebled with age. Indeed, my work is well nigh done, and I am waiting in glorious expectation for my change to come; for I have not labored and suffered for naught, nor followed a cunningly devised fable."
Not long after, his expectation, in regard to his departure to another world, was realized. On the 10th of May, 1826, at the house of his brother, Mr. Joel Bruce, who lived in the county of Giles, Tennessee, this tried veteran of Christ died in the triumph of faith, surrounded by his friends, sealing by his dying testimony the truth and power of that religion which he had recommended to others for forty-five years.
The name of Freeborn Garrettson is familiar to most of my readers. Of the early days of his ministry, and of the sufferings he endured in the cause of his Divine Master, as well as his success in winning souls to Christ, an ample account has been given in the preceding volumes of this History; and those who wish to see these things in a more full and minute detain, are referred to his biography, which has been published and extensively circulated.
He may be said to have been one of the early pioneers of Methodism in this country, for he joined the itinerant connection in 1775, when only twenty-three years of age, and was employed for many years in forming new circuits and districts, in which he was eminently useful. At the time of his admission into the itinerant ranks, in 1775, the number of preachers was only 19, and members in the societies 3,145; and at the time of his death, in 1827, these had increased to 1,642 preachers, and Church members 421,105; and perhaps no individual preacher contributed more, if indeed as much, to promote this spread of the work, than the Rev. Freeborn Garrettson. Young, vigorous, unreservedly devoted to God, and exceedingly zealous for the salvation of souls, wherever he went he carried the flame of divine love with him, breathing it out in the most pointed and earnest appeals to the consciences of sinners, and in the soothing words of promise and encouragement to mourning penitents. Nor was he less earnest in pressing believers forward in the path of humble obedience, that they might attain the heights and depths of redeeming love.
From his entrance upon this work until 1784 he traveled extensively through the states of North and South Carolina, Virginia, Maryland -- his native state -- Delaware, Pennsylvania, and New Jersey; and in all these states he preached the word with peculiar success, thousands hanging upon his lips with eager attention, and hundreds also bearing witness to the truths he delivered by the reformation which was effected in their hearts and lives through his instrumentality. And though his enemies thought to confine him in the prisons to which they committed him "for the testimony of Jesus," they were disappointed in their expectation by the overruling providence of God, so that even their wrath "was made to praise him." In those places where he so labored and suffered, the name of Freeborn Garrettson was long remembered by many of the first generation of Methodists, associated with the grateful recollection that he was their spiritual father; and on his subsequent visits, when time had wrinkled his brows and they had grown old in the service of their Lord and Master, the fires of their first love were enkindled afresh, and they mingled their songs of thanksgiving together for the "former and the latter rains" of divine grace. How sweet were these recollections!
He was one of the little veteran band that so nobly withstood the innovators upon Wesleyan Methodism in 1778 and 1779, when it required all the united wisdom, prudence, forbearance, and cautious foresight of Asbury and his associates, who stood by him, to check the froward zeal of those who would run before they were sent, to lay on hands suddenly, and to administer the ordinances without proper authority. He stood firm to his purpose, and assisted in keeping the ship to her moorings, until the Christmas conference furnished her with suitable rigging, and set her afloat, properly manned and officered, with well-authenticated certificates of their character and authority to act as her commanders and conductors.
Garrettson was also among those memorable men to whom Dr. Coke first unfolded the plan devised by Wesley for the organization of the Methodist societies in America into a church. At the request of Asbury and Coke, he "went," says the latter, "like an arrow," to call the preachers together in the city of Baltimore on the 25th of December, 1754, where they matured those plans and adopted those measures which have proved such a lasting blessing to the Methodist community in this country. In the midst of this assembly, which, though few in numbers, was composed of some of the choicest spirits of the age, stood Garrettson, young, ardent, full of zeal for God, and giving his counsel in favor of the system of rules, orders, and ordinances submitted to them by Coke, under the sanction of Wesley. With Asbury, Dickens, Reed, Gill, Pedicord, Ware, Tunnell, Phoebus, and others, of precious memory, fathers in our Israel, he commingled his prayers and counsels, and thus contributed to lay, deep and wide, the foundation of that spiritual edifice which, by the blessing of God on their labors, even he lived to see neared in beauty and glory, and under whose roof many a wanderer has sought shelter and rest.
He was also the first Methodist preacher in this country who went on a foreign mission. Having received the order of an elder at the Christmas conference, and being solicited by Dr. Coke to embark on a mission to Nova Scotia, he cheerfully relinquished home and kindred, and went to that distant province of the British empire to carry the glad tidings of salvation to the lost. Here, amid summer's heat and winter's cold, and sometimes hunger and thirst, be continued about two years, traveling extensively, preaching the word with diligence, and rejoicing over penitent sinners who were returning to God; and such was their affection and respect for his character, that, had they won his consent, they would most gladly have retained him as their permanent superintendent, and that, too, under the sanction of both Wesley and Coke.
But his Lord had other work for him to do. Not long after his return from Nova Scotia, namely, in 1755, Mr. Garrettson penetrated through the country north of the city of New York, on both sides the Hudson river, where the voice of a Methodist preacher was never before heard. Here, in the character of a presiding elder, he gave direction to the labors of several young preachers, who spread themselves through the country, north and south, reaching even to Vermont, proclaiming, in all places where they went, the unsearchable riches of Christ. By these labors a foundation was laid for that work of God in those more northern states of the confederacy which has since spread so gloriously among the people.
But we cannot follow him in all his useful movements, from one year to another, through the different parts of the country. Suffice it to say here, that he continued with unabated ardor and diligence in his Master's work until the year 1817, when, contrary to his wishes, for he seemed loath to believe himself unable to perform efficient service, he was returned a supernumerary. This, however, by no means abridged his labors. Though cut loose from the regular work, he still pursued the path of usefulness, making occasional excursions east and west, north and south, exhibiting the same fervor of spirit, the same breathing after immortality and eternal life, by which he had ever been characterized.
In 1791 Mr. Garrettson saw fit to exchange the single for a married life, and his choice fell upon a woman, Miss Catharine Livingston, of Rhinebeck, N.Y., who was every way fitted, both from education and piety, to assist him in the grand work in which he had engaged. This also furnished him with means to preach the gospel without fee or reward, as well as to exhibit the hospitalities of a liberal mind, and thereby to fulfill the apostolic precept, "For a bishop" (or elder) "must be given to hospitality." From the time of his settlement at Rhinebeck, where he located his family, his house and heart were open to receive and welcome the messengers of God; and around his hospitable board have they often, from year to year, mingled their friendly souls in conversation, prayer, and praise; nor could these guests depart without carrying with them grateful recollections of the gospel simplicity, courtesy, and liberality with which they had been entertained.
But the time at last arrived when this man of God, one of the patriarchs of American Methodism, must resign up his breath to God who gave it. In the seventy-sixth year of his age, and fifty-second of his ministry, he ended his days in peace, surrounded by his friends, and consoled by the hope of everlasting life.
In contemplating the character of Mr. Garrettson, we may behold a cluster of those excellences which dignify and adorn the man and the minister, and which qualify him for usefulness in the world. But that which eminently distinguished him, both in public and private, was the simplicity, or singleness of heart, with which he deported himself on all occasions. This sterling virtue kept him at an equal distance from the corrodings of jealousy and the repinings of suspicion. A single desire to know the good and the right way, to walk in it himself, and induce others to follow his example, most evidently characterized his mind, and guided him in all his proceedings.
This singleness of heart, which had its seat in pure love to God and man, first led him forth in search of the lost sheep of the house of Israel, sustained him under his labors and trials, kept him humble in the midst of his prosperity, and in seasons of popularity among the friends of the cause in which he was engaged. No one could be long in his company, nor often hear him preach, without perceiving this honest simplicity of intention shining out among the other graces of his mind, guiding and actuating the entire man in all his movements. And this arose from the purity of his heart and the sanctity of his life. For no man, I presume to say, ever gave more irrefutable evidence of the holiness of his heart and the blamelessness of his life, from the time of his entrance on his Christian course; about fifty-two years of which were spent as a public ambassador of Christ, than Freeborn Garrettson. What a living and speaking comment this upon the pure doctrines of Jesus Christ!
His action in the pulpit was not graceful, though it was solemn and impressive. His sermons were sometimes enlivened by anecdotes of a character calculated to illustrate the points he was aiming to establish. He was likewise deficient in systematic arrangement and logical precision. This deficiency, however, was more than made up by the pointedness of his appeals to the conscience, the aptness of his illustrations from Scripture, the manner in which he explained and enforced the depth of Christian experience, and the holy fervor of spirit with which he delivered himself on all occasions. Like most other extemporaneous speakers, his mind sometimes seemed barren, and he failed, apparently for want of words, to express that on which his understanding appeared to be laboring. At other times his heart appeared full, his mind luminous, and he would pour forth a stream of gospel truth which abundantly refreshed the souls of God's people with the "living waters." And although his gesticulations were somewhat awkward, and his voice at times unmusical, especially when raised to a high key, there was that in his manner and matter which always rendered his preaching entertaining and useful; and seldom did the hearer tire under his administration of the word of life -- point, pathos, and variety generally characterizing all his discourses.
Mr. Garrettson was a great friend to all our institutions, literary and religious. To the American Bible Society, and to our missionary and tract societies, he was a liberal contributor and a firm advocate. Nor were the worn-out preachers, their widows and orphans, forgotten in his benefactions. When acting in the capacity of a presiding elder, I have known him receive, and then give away to some poor preacher, his wife, or some dependent widow, his share of the quarterly allowance, as well as make special efforts among our more wealthy members and friends to replenish the funds instituted for these needy and deserving objects.
But he has gone to his reward; and this record is made as a small tribute of respect to one who is dear in the recollections of many, in whose friendship the writer had the honor and happiness of sharing, whose example he would remember to imitate and transmit to others, that they may profit by calling it to recollection when he who now writes shall mingle his ashes with all that remains earthly of Garrettson, and his spirit, redeemed and purified by the blood of the Lamb, shall mingle -- O, may it be so! -- with his around the throne of God for ever.
Two of the others who had taken their flight to another world deserve a passing notice.
James Smith, of the Baltimore conference, when he ended his race, was comparatively young in the ministry. At the age of forty-three or forty-our, after having discharged the duties of an itinerant minister for twenty-four years, he departed in great peace of mind, in the city of Baltimore, surrounded by his Christian friends and brethren.
He was a man of strong powers of mind, of a warm heart, and a cultivated intellect. His natural vivacity sometimes gave place to deep gloom, which almost unfitted him for the duties of his station, and made him a little burdensome to his friends. These temporary depressions of spirit, however, were but occasional spots which appeared to obscure the brilliancy of a mind well stored with useful knowledge, and to oppress a heart generally overflowing with the. kindliest feelings toward his brethren and friends.
As a minister of Jesus Christ, he was a workman that needed not to be ashamed. He rose with the dignity of the subject which he attempted to explain, and sometimes spoke with an eloquence, energy, and pathos, which, while it delighted the hearer, filled him with adoring gratitude to that God who had given his servant the power thus to persuade sinners to be reconciled to God. He was therefore powerful in the pulpit, and strenuous in his endeavors to advance the cause of Jesus Christ.
In the midst of the discussions which arose on the appointment of presiding elders, and other collateral subjects, which either directly or indirectly grew out of that, our brother Smith took a deep interest, being an advocate of what was considered the popular side of that question. Being young, ardent, full of zeal for any cause he might espouse, he has been heard sometimes on the floor of the General Conference in such strains of impassioned eloquence, that one would think it hardly possible to resist the force of his arguments and the directness of his appeals. But there was a particular excellence which mingled itself with all these debates. With whatever fervor of spirit, warmth of zeal, or power of argument he might enter the arena of controversy on these subjects, he always concluded with an expression of his perfect fellowship for those who dissented from him, and of his unabated attachment to the rules and constitution of the Church of his choice. I remember to have heard him on one of these occasions, I think it was in the year 1816, when, after running through the field of argument and illustration, to sustain his positions, and to prostrate, if possible, his antagonists, he concluded with these words: -- "If any man consider me his enemy because I differ from him in opinion, I want not that man for my friend."
These words, delivered, apparently, with a heart overflowing with feelings of kindness toward all men, left an impression upon all minds, I should think, if I may judge others by myself, as favorable to the speaker's heart and affections, as did his arguments upon those who were most partial to his views. I remember well that Bishop McKendree, who was pointedly opposed to the theory of brother Smith, and who had heard some cutting remarks in the course of the speech, a few minutes only after this peroration was pronounced, took the orator in his arms in the most affectionate manner, as a token, I supposed, of his fellowship and kindly feelings.
It was thought, however, by some of his intimate friends, that these discussions, which were continued in various forms, from one year to another, until they terminated at the Conference of 1825, so wore upon the nervous system of Mr. Smith that it accelerated the disease of which he died. His sensitive mind and warmth of affection led him to espouse any cause in which he engaged with the enthusiasm of an able advocate, and his delicate nerves vibrated under the continual irritation produced by coming in constant collision with other minds equal to his own, and with other arguments with which he found it difficult to grapple with success. He therefore finally sunk under the pressure of those causes, which surrounded him, and was consumed by the fires which burned within him.
But that same talent which qualified him for a powerful debater enabled him to shine in the pulpit, and to develop the truths of the gospel with clearness and precision. If there was any fault in the style of his pulpit eloquence, it consisted in an apparent effort at originality, and a labor after a diction somewhat pompous, instead of being entirely natural, plain, and pointed. This caused an occasional obscurity, painful to the hearer, and which prevented the full flow of truth from entering the understanding and the heart.
It could not be otherwise than that a man thus constituted should be amiable in his manners. Brother Smith, indeed, possessed the social qualities in a high degree, and was therefore a pleasant and edifying companion, and warm in his attachments. And nothing would tend so quickly and so effectually to relieve his soul from the burden of melancholy to which I have alluded as social intercourse, when some anecdote happily introduced would drive away the demon of gloom which occasionally hovered over his mind, and restore him to his wonted cheerfulness and colloquial vivacity.
There were also a candor and frankness in his disposition and communications which at once allayed all suspicions of his intentions, and threw him into your arms "as a brother beloved." No double-meaning phrases, no studied ambiguity, like the responses of the heathen oracles, which might be susceptible of an interpretation to suit the occasion, marked and debased the conversation or conduct of James Smith. When you heard his words you knew his heart. When you received his declaration you had a pledge of his sentiments in the sincerity and candor with which he spoke, and therefore always felt yourself safe in his society, and no less pleased than edified by his conversation.
It is indeed pleasant to linger along the path of such men, and call to our recollection those excellences which beautified their character, and made them so estimable in their day and generation. But we must check the current of our thoughts, and give place to some others equally entitled to notice, while we may be allowed to anticipate the day when, unencumbered by those infirmities "which flesh is heir to," kindred spirits shall mingle their songs together around the throne of God and the Lamb.
Seth Crowell was another who died in the meridian of life, and left behind him memorials of his fidelity in the cause of God. He entered the traveling ministry in 1801, and finished his course in the twenty-fifth year of his public labors.
In the early days of his ministry he volunteered his services for Upper Canada, where he exhibited those talents for preaching, and that ardency of zeal, which much endeared him to the people in that province; and he left behind him many witnesses, converted under his preaching, of the power and skill with which he wielded "the sword of the Spirit." In 1806 and 1807 he was stationed in the city of New York, under the charge of the Rev. Aaron Hunt. Here a revival of religion commenced, such, I believe, as had never before been seen or felt in that city, and brother Crowell was one of the most active instruments by which it was promoted. It was during this powerful revival that the practice of inviting penitent sinners to come to the altar for prayers was first introduced. The honor of doing this, if I am rightly informed, belongs to brother A. Hunt, who resorted to it to prevent the confusion arising from praying for them in different parts of the church at the same time.
In the midst of the shakings and tremblings among the congregations during this great work, Seth Crowell was eminently useful, preaching with the "Holy Ghost sent down from heaven," beseeching sinners to be reconciled to God, and accompanying all his efforts with mighty prayer and faith.
But his great exertions and his abstemious manner of living soon made inroads upon his physical constitution, and this produced often a depression of spirits which rendered him sometimes quite unhappy. In consequence of these things he was obliged at times to remit his regular preaching, and seek to recruit his exhausted strength in a more retired sphere of labor.
When, however, in the vigor of his strength, the warmth of his affections and his longing desires for the salvation of souls led him forth with great zeal, both in and out of the pulpit, and he sometimes preached with a power and eloquence which overwhelmed his congregations "with speechless awe and silent love." Nor was it mere declamation. His sermons were sometimes deeply argumentative, and his positions supported by Scripture texts so appositely, that it amounted to a moral demonstration of their truth; and not infrequently sinners would be constrained to cry aloud for mercy while he was making his searching appeals to their consciences.
His preaching was frequently of a controversial character. Against the peculiarities of Calvinism and Unversalism he bore a strong and pointed testimony, delighting to exhibit the universal love of God to man on the one hand, and the great danger of abusing it on the other, by obstinately refusing to comply with the conditions of the gospel And his sermons on these occasions were sometimes delivered with great point and power, and could not do otherwise than offend those who tenaciously held the sentiments which he opposed. That the indulgence of this spirit of controversy had an unfavorable bearing some times upon the tranquillity of his mind I think was evident; and hence he affords an example of the danger to be apprehended from carrying on a theological warfare on doctrinal points, lest it contract the heart, and degenerate into a querulous disposition respecting points of more minor importance than those which first awakened the Spirit of discussion.
This, together with the many bodily infirmities which brother Crowell suffered toward the close of his life, no doubt, at times, interrupted that sweet flow of brotherly affection which binds the hearts of brethren together in the bundle of life, and leads to that reciprocity of those kindlier feelings which render social intercourse so agreeable and edifying.
He has, however, gone to his rest. He lingered for several months under a slowly wasting disease, during which patience and resignation were exemplified in an eminent degree, and his soul was buoyed up with the blissful prospect of entering into life eternal. He left behind him many warm and admiring friends who had been profited by his ministry. If he had enemies he forgave them; nor could they suffer their disaffection to follow him beyond the tomb. The grace of God in Christ at last gave him a victory over the sting of death, and transmitted his soul to the regions of the just. And whatever infirmities may have occasionally eclipsed the glory of his character, human sympathy ceases to weep over them in view of the many excellences which beautified his mind, inspired as they were by that grace which carried him through the storms of life safely to the harbor of eternal rest. Nor will this record be misinterpreted by those who were acquainted with the intimate relation sometimes subsisting between the writer and his deceased friend; while to others it is enough to say, that death not only dissolved all earthly ties, but was also a period of cementing that union of spirit which, it is humbly hoped, will be more fully consummated in the kingdom of glory and of God.
Numbers in the Church: Whites This Year: 327,932; Last Year: 309,550; Increase: 18,382 -- Colored This Year: 54,065; Last Year: 51,334; Increase: 2,731 -- Total This Year: 381,997; Last Year: 360,884 -- Increase: 21,113 -- Preachers This Year: 1,576; Last Year: 1,406; Increase: 170.
Among the colored members above enumerated are included five hundred and twenty-three Indians, all in Upper Canada except one; but there were many more converted Indians than are here reported. It seems that at this time the conferences were not in the habit generally of returning the number of Indian converts separately in the Minutes; and as the reports of the Missionary Society were all consumed in the disastrous fire of the Book Concern in 1836, it is not now possible to ascertain their exact number at that time.
 In the reception of Mr. Summerfield the New York conference recognized the principle, that the regulations of Methodism in one part of the world are to be respected in every other part. According to a rule of the English and Irish conferences, a preacher remains on trial four years before he is admitted into full connection; but in the United States his probation ends with two years, when he is eligible to be admitted and ordained a deacon. Mr. Summerfield had traveled three years on trial in the Irish conference, and of course had but one year more to complete his probation; he was accordingly received by the New York conference as having but one year more to serve as a preacher on trial. Hence in 1822 he was admitted into full connection and ordained a deacon, according to the usages of our Church. And in 1824, having served two years as a deacon with fidelity and success, he was elected and ordained an elder.  See Methodist Magazine for 1828, p. 349.  So it is stated in the published account of his life; but it is believed he must have been born somewhat earlier.  The reason of this decrease of colored members is, that that they had joined the secession which has been before noticed.  It is much regretted that the day and year of his birth, and his age at the time of his death, are not given in his memoir.
 See Methodist Magazine for 1828, p. 349.
 So it is stated in the published account of his life; but it is believed he must have been born somewhat earlier.
 The reason of this decrease of colored members is, that that they had joined the secession which has been before noticed.
 It is much regretted that the day and year of his birth, and his age at the time of his death, are not given in his memoir.