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son to be baptized kneels; the minister holds his hands over him, into which the deacon pours water, and through which it runs on the crown of the kneeling person's head; after which follow imposition of hands and prayer.” MEN OF UNDERSTANDING. This title distinguished a denomination which appeared in Flanders and Brussels in the year 1511. They owed their origin to an illiterate man, whose name was Egidius Cantor, and to William of Hildenison, a Carmelite monk. They pretended to be honoured with celestial visions; denied that any could arrive at perfect knowledge of the holy scriptures, without the extraordinary suc
cours of a divine illumination;
and be 'made partakers of eternal felicity. They also taught, among other things, that Christ alone had merited eternal life and felicity for the human race; and that therefore men could not acquire this inestimable privilege by their own actions alone—that the priests, to whom the people confessed their transgressions, had not the power of absolving them ; but this authority was vested in Christ alone--that voluntary penance and mortification was not necessary to salvation. This denomination appear to have been a branch of the Brethren and Sisters of the Free Spirit.t METHODISTS, a name given in the seventeenth century to a new species of polemic doctors, who distinguished themselves by their zeal and dexterity in defending the Roman Catholic church against the attacks of the Protestants.[ METHODISTS, PRotesTANT. [This denomination was founded in the year 1729, by a Mr. Morgan, and Messrs. Charles and John Wesley. In the month of November, that
* Mosheim's Eccles. Hist. vol. iv. pp. 151—162. Dictionary of Arts and Sciences, vol. iii. p. 2037. Edwards's History of the American Baptists,
vol. i. p. 9
began to spend some evenings in reading the greek testament with Mr. Charles Wesley, student; Mr. Morgan, commoner, of Christchurch; and Mr. Kirkham, of MertonCollege. Not long afterwards two or three of the pupils of Mr. John Wesley, and one of the pupils of Mr. Charles Wesley, obtained leave to attend these meetings. They then began to visit the sick in different parts of the town, and the prisoners also who were confined in the castle. Two years after they were joined by Mr. Ingham, of Queen's College; Mr. Broughton, and Mr. Hervey; and in 1735 by the celebrated Mr. George Whitfield, then in his eighteenth year. At this time their number in Oxford amounted to about fourteen. They obtained their name, it is said, from the exact regularity of their lives, or the exact method in which they disposed of each hour; which gave occasion to a young gentlemen of Christchurch to say, “Here is a new sect of Methodists sprung up ;” alluding to a sect of ancient physicians, who were so called because they reduced the whole healing art to a few common principles, and brought it into some method and order. In October, 1735, Mr. John
and Mr. Charles Wesley, Mr.
Ingham, and a Mr. Delamott, embarked for Georgia, in order to preach the gospel to the Indians. They were at first favourably received, but in a short time lost the affection of the people; and on account of some differences with the storekeeper, Mr. Wesley was obliged to return to England. He was however soon succeeded by Mr. Whitfield, whose repeated labours in that part of the world are well known. On Mr. Whitfield's return from America, in 1741, he declared his full assent to the doctrines of Calvin. Mr. Wesley, on the contrary, professed the doctrines of Arminius, and had printed in favour of universal redemption and perfection, and very strongly against election, a doctrine which Mr. Whitfield believed to be scriptural. The difference, therefore, of sentiment between these two great men caused a separation, and their followers have continued to be divided to this day. o The doctrines of the Calvinistic Methodists need not be detailed, as the substance of them will be found under the article CA Lv IN ISTs. And nearly the same might be said of those of the Arminian Methodists, the substance of which may be seen under the article ARMINIANs. It has
been said, "that “the leading principles common to both parties were, salvatioa by faith only in Jesus Christ, perceptible
conversion, and an assurance of
reconciliation with God:” but whether they both mean the same things by these terms, may be questioned. The sormer, when speaking of justification by faith alone, do not mean that we are justified by it as an act of our own, which God rewards with this great blessing; but as having respect to the righteousness of Christ, which is that, and that only, for the sake of which justification is bestowed. The imputation of faith, therefore,
with them, is the same thing as the imputation of Christ's righteousness. But the latter, when speaking of justification by faith alone, appear to consider it as a condition performed on our part, and accepted by God instead of perfect obedience. The imputation of faith, therefore, with them, goes to exclude the imputation of the righteousness of Christ. “In what sense (say they) is the righteousness of Christ imputed to all mankind, or to believers ? (Ans.) We do not find it expressly affirmed in scripture that God imputes the righteousness of Christ to any, although we do find that faith is imputed for righteousness.”
With respect to perfection, it is further asked, (Ques.) “What is implied in being a perfect christian? (Ans.) The loving the Lord our God with all our heart, and with all our mind, and soul, and strength. (Ques.) Does this imply that all inward sin is taken away ? (Ans.) Without doubt. Or how could we be said to be saved from all our uncleanmesses 2" (Ezek. xxxvi. 29.)— They allow, however, that many of those who have died in the faith, yea, the greater part of those they have known, were not sanctified throughout, not made perfect in love,
till a little before death ; that
the term sanctified is continually applied by St. Paul to all that were justified, that were true believers; that by this term alone he rarely, if ever, means saved from all sin; and that consequently it is not proper to use it in this sense, without adding the word wholly, entirely, or the like. The zeal of both Mr. Whitfield and Mr. Wesley was very great, and their labours abundant. They were both professed members of the church of England, though neither
of them confined himself in all
respects within its rules. The former was most distinguished for his powerful eloquence and deep concern for the conversion of sinners; the latter for his prudence in forming his numerous followers into societies, and establishing such a connexion and subordination among them, as to give a greater stability to his denomination. Since the death of Mr. Wesley, his people have been divided with respect to discipline. He himself had always professed a strong attachment to the church of England , and exhorted the societies under his care to attend her service, and receive the Lord's supper from the regular clergy. But in the latter part of his life he thought proper to ordain some bishops and priests for America and Scotland: as one or two of the bishops, however, have never been out of England since their appointment to the office, it is probable that he intended a regular ordination should take place when the state of the connexion might render it necessary. During his life some of the societies petitioned to have preaching in their own chapels during church hours, and the Lord's supper administered by the travelling preachers. This request he generally refused ; and, where it could be conveniently done, sent some of the clergymen who officiated at the new chapel in London to perform these solemn services. At the first
* Minutes of Conference.
conference after his death, which was held at Manchester, the preachers published a declaration, in which they said that they would “take up the plan as Mr. Wesley had left it.” This was by no means satisfactory to many of the preachers and people, who thought that religious liberty ought to be extended to all the societies which desired it. In order to favour this cause, several respectable preachers came forward, and by the writings which they circulated through the connexion, paved the way for a pacification ; by which it was stipulated that in every place where a three-fold majority of class-leaders, stewards, and trustees, desired it, the people should have preaching in church hours, and the sacraments of baptism and the Lord's supper administered to them. The spirit of inquiry being roused, did not stop here; for it appeared agreeable both to reason and the customs of the primitive church, that the people should have a voice in the temporal concerns of the societies, vote in the election of church-officers, and give their suffrages in spiritual concerns. This subject produced a variety of arguments on both sides of the question. At a conference held at Leeds in 1797, there were delegates from many societies in various parts, who were instructed to request that the people might have a voice in the formation of their own laws, the choice of their own officers, and the distribution of their own property. The preachers proceeded to discuss two motions. Shall delegates from the societies be admitted into the conference Shall circuit-stewards be admitted into the district meetings Both these motions were negatived, and consequently all hopes of accommodation between the parties were given up. From hence a plan was proposed of a new connevion. A regular meeting was formed, and Mr. William Thom being chosen president, and Mr. Alexander Kilham secretary, the meeting proceeded to arrange the plan for supplying the congregations which adhered to them with preachers. The president and secretary were also desired to draw up rules of churchgovernment, that they might be circulated through the societies for their approbation. The plan being drawn,
up and printed, was examined
by select committees through the connexion, and, with a few alterations, was accepted by the conference of preachers and delegates.
The preachers and people are incorporated in all meetings for business, not by temporary concession, but by the essential principles of their constitution ; for the private members. chuse , the classleaders, the leaders’ meeting nominates the stewards, and the society confirms or rejects the nomination. The quarterly meetings are composed of the general stewards and representatives chosen by the different societies of the circuits, and the fourth quarterly meeting of the year appoints the preacher and delegate of every circuit that shall attend the general conference. For a further account of their principles and discipline, the reader is referred to a pamphlet enti