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terrible; take him as a friend, and success is certain; even to men of minor talents, over whom he may extend the fostering shadow of his wing. In speaking, natheless, he never soars, being without the requisite pinions,-fancy, imagination, genius. His mind is purely metaphysical; but he is always clear, luminous, and instructive, displaying the results of meditation rather than of reading. His speaking, ever spontaneous, is by turns pathetic or powerful. In prayer, he is remarkably fervent. His writings are few, and are not likely to become more numerous. His fame will never extend beyond the limits of his own communion ; but, in the list of its men of renown, the name of Bunting will rank next to that of WESLEY.
If this brief and imperfect sketch of the redoubtable chief of the Wesleyan Connexion should have been tedious to the reader, our apology is, that a description of METHODISM AS IT Is without a somewhat particular mention of the man who has made it what it is, would have been as defective as the play of Hamlet with the Prince of Denmark omitted.
The District Meeting, already incidentally referred to, comes next to the Conference. It is understood to have been devised by the gentleman who inducted Dr. Bunting into the Wesleyan mysteries. It bears a relation to the Conference, analogous to that which Synods in Scotland bear to General Assemblies. Like the Conference, it is composed of ministers exclusively, except that certain lay-officers are occasionally present during the transaction of purely financial business. England is divided into twenty-nine districts, passing under the names of the chief towns comprised within them, as 'The London District,' * The Manchester District,' "The Hull District,' and so on. In this court, all the regular ministers within the bounds of the district, have a seat; but probationers have no vote. Its sessions recur twice a year; once before the Conference, to prepare the business of the district for its review; and a second time afterwards, to arrange the financial affairs of the district. Each district has its chairman, (invested with a kind of prelatical rank and episcopal authority,) and its financial secretary, both of whom are appointed by the Conference; the chairman, however, being liable to deposition by the district meeting, and to all its ordinary powers, in common with his brethren. Besides the regular meetings, provision is made for Special, Mixed, and Minor District Meetings, under special and extraordinary circumstances.
At the regular district meetings in May, a minute inquiry is instituted into the character and conduct of each minister, and the result reported to the Conference. The principal questions are : '1. Is there any objection to his moral and religious character? 2. Does he believe and preach our doctrines 3. Has
he duly observed and enforced our discipline? 4. Has he [no matter how long he may have been in the ministry] competent abilities for our itinerant work ?' Separate answers to each of these questions in relation to each of the ministers (in number from twenty to fifty), are expected to appear in the district minutes. If during the previous year any minister have married, it is inquired whether he has married in the Lord ;' and, if not, he is reported to the Conference. And, even though he have married in the Lord,' yet, if he'took a step towards marriage, without first consulting with his brethren, with the superintendent,' or 'chief pastor' in each circuit*, in particular, but 'not excluding his other ministerial colleagues,' the Conference is to be informed that this important direction has been violated. We presume it is the object of this regulation to promote mariages de convenance among the ministers, and especially to prevent them from marrying out of the Connexion, which is expressly condemned as highly inexpedient and dangerous. Any minister who marries a woman without her parents' consent, is, on proof thereof, liable to be excluded from the Connexion; but the rule is rendered ambiguous by qualifying clauses, and of this ambiguity a very respectable minister reaped the advantage, who ran away with a rich heiress in the north. If any minister is found to have engaged in trade, he is to be excluded from the itinerant plan. Ministers are forbidden to issue political circulars addressed to Methodists distinctively. Summary proceedings may be instituted against delinquent ministers without previous notice; and any man who refuses to take his trial, is, ipso facto, suspended till the Conference. It is a principal part of the business of the district meeting to examine persons approved by the March quarterly meetings of their respective circuits, and recommended by their respective superintendents, for admission as probationers into the regular ministry. A most searching string of interrogatories is put, relating to their conversion, present Christian experience, call to the ministry, proved capability and usefulness in preaching, theological opinions and reading, familiarity with Mr. Wesley's writings, knowledge and approval of the Methodist discipline and readiness to observe and enforce it, belief in the perpetual and universal obligation of the Christian sabbath, and willingness to be employed by the Conference in any part of the world. The following questions are also asked : 'Are you under any matrimonial engagement ? Do you take no snuff, tobacco, or drams? Are you free from debt?' Although these
• The superintendent has a kind of archidiaconal authority over the other ministers in his circuit, and over its affairs in general. The other preachers are pledged reverently to obey their chief ministers;' which means the superintendent of the circuit, and the chairman of the district.
questions are somewhat precise and minute, and are sometimes, as to some of them at least, evaded, yet their importance is selfevident, and has often been demonstrated in the history of the Connexion. From the days of Mr. Wesley, the Conference has anxiously aimed to guard against the scandals arising from fickleness and flirtations on the part of young ministers in relation to women. On this subject, other denominations might learn a useful lesson from their practice. Some of their rules may seem over-prying, and are doubtless liable to vexatious and annoying abuse; yet, when it is considered that the Connexion takes upon itself the separate maintenance of every minister's wife, and that the usages of Methodism bring her into contact with the interests of the body at nearly as many points as her husband, it is but reasonable that the authorities should have some guarantee for her character being such as will comport with her circumstances; nor ought the prohibition of marriage during the period of ministerial probation (four years), to be invidiously compared to the enforced celibacy of the Romish priesthood, since it would be unreasonable to expect the Conference to support a man's wife until the man himself has been commended to their definitive approval; to say nothing of the double disappointment of a rejected candidate, who should have taken to himself a wife on the faith of his acceptance. The aim of the Conference would seem to be, to fulfil, without overstepping, the twofold maxim :
Choose not alone a proper mate,
But proper time to marry.' We can assure our fair friends, that this part of the Wesleyan practice, so far from being tainted with Malthusian rigour, is dictated quite as much by a tender regard for their sex as by considerations of mere ecclesiastical convenience. There is no class of offenders with whom the body deals more severely than with those who are unfaithful to the vows of love. One of the greatest lights of the Connexion, notwithstanding his high promise, most narrowly escaped exclusion on the charge of having 'two strings to his bow;' and we believe that every clear case of positive unfaithfulness is mercilessly visited with the extreme penalty. The law against snuff and tobacco, on the contrary, too frequently terminates in smoke. A gentleman who, though now filling high office in the Connexion, is not too old to have been but a boy when it first became the fashion for 'prentice lads to puff cigars, had contracted the habit of smoking before he began to preach, and well knew that he should be con.. fronted with the tobacco question. 'I take you to witness, said he, on the day of his examination, (and, taking the pipe out of his mouth as he spoke, he laid it on the table, that I
now give up smoking. On the strength of this resolution, he boldly faced the testing interrogatory, though how he shaped his negative we cannot precisely say. All we know is, that, before night, he called the same company to witness, (and suited the action to the word,) that he had taken to smoking again !* Similar, though not quite so equivocal, is the story which Adam Clarke (author, by-the-bye, of a pamphlet rivalling King James's 'Counterblasť in its diatribes upon the votaries of the weed) narrates concerning himself. On the day appointed for his final examination by the Conference, he was walking with another minister in the streets of Bristol, when a beggar asked an alms; and, having no copper about him, he borrowed a halfpenny of his companion to relieve the case. As he relates, just before the question 'Are you in debt?' came upon him, it flashed across his memory that he had not refunded; but he answered with an air of quiet confidence: 'Not a penny!'
The special examination of probationers is renewed by the district meeting from year to year. Imprimis, each of them is required to deliver to his chairman a list of the books which he has read in the interval,-a regulation which, if it seem rather inquisitorial, has the compensating advantage of fortifying young minds against temptation, and of guarding embryo divines against allowing Dickens and Eugene Sue to rival too much Butler and Howe, while it needs not prevent them from agreeably diversifying Mr. Wesley's Sermons with his 'Harry Earl of Moreland ? Were the questions which the Methodist novice has to answer from year to year compared with Andrew Steinmetz's account of the Jesuits' noviciate, it might be difficult to decide which is the more rigid course of discipline. Those questions imply, among a multitude of other things, that the candidates rise at a certain hour (we believe four in summer and five in winter); that they retire for private devotion at fixed hours twice a day; that they meditate at set times, by a fixed rule ; that they fast every Friday, taking water-gruel in the morning, dining on potatoes, and, if they want it, eating three or four ounces of flesh in the evening; that, at other times, they eat no flesh suppers, nor more at each meal than is necessary; and that they drink neither wine nor ale, much less spirits. In the fourth of these annual examinations, each probationer brings himself under promise to preach every morning and evening when opportunity serves. We believe opportunity seldom serves, now-a-days, in the morning ; but
* The late Rev. Daniel Isaac was both a great wag and a great smoker. Ha! there you are,' cried a lady, who surprised him one day with a pipe in his mouth, at your idol again ! • Yes, madam,' returned he coolly, • burning it !