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some called eccentrity,) is inconsistent with ministerial dignity and usefulness? Who was it that first undertook to censure and punish it, notwithstanding its being honourably kept out of the pulpit and confined to the social circle? What purblind sour fanatic first ventured to publish, whether orally or in writing, or in both ways, bungling interpretations of texts of Scripture supposed to condemn it? What ignorant and arrogant delusionist first began to confound the cheerfulness and humour of the selfgoverning Christian, with the noisy, profane hilarity of the ungodly? Who was it that first set on foot, under the false and nauseous pretence of purifying he Churches, a system of persecution against the witty? How does it come to pass that among philosophers, scholars, and divines, the faculty of discrimination is so rare? My one answer to all this is :Whoever may have been the human instruments in all this error and mischief, the prime originator wus
Satan, transformed into an angel of light.” (2 Cor. xi. 10.) It is utterly impossible that efforts made, whether by clergy or lity, to supplant or damage the character and circumstances of useful Christian ministers, can originate from pure and holy motives. And should it be said, that such efforts are not made from bad motives, but from mere inconsideration, then I say that even this is a fault, and should prompt the inconsiderate person to express regret, and make an apology. I have repeatedly, at different times, acknowledged in Methodism, the connexional right of remonstrating against preachers; and I admit the propriety of it, where there is an obvious unsuitableness of the man to the place. But in the absence of all evidence that any such unsuitableness exists—and when there is nothing whatever to justify opposition, but some wild and personal antipathy, founded upon idle, gossipping, and false reports, a remonstrance is a sin. The present wound inflicted upon the discarded minister, and the still further remonstrances called up from other places, by the false alarm of the first objector, places the servant of Christ in a position of peril; and what reflections such remonstrators, being impenitent, will have upon a death-bed, they will know better than I can tell them, when that solemn crisis shall arrive.
It is a fact that some men, unfeelingly declined by officials, and opposed as I have known them with a desperation, even fiendish, have been repeatedly invited for public services in the first places in the kingdom : and that in these places they have received every demonstration of affectionate esteem. Facts of this sort, (and I could furnish them in abundance,) render it more than probable, that if such men were once lifted to their proper status, they would maintain that status through life—do extensive good, and in possession of comfortable salaries, save themselves and their families from a thousand anxieties, sorrows, and tortures, which attend rejection, and the poverty which results from it.
In ordinary life we admit that it is a dishonest and disreputable trick to impose, by false representations of character, a bad servant on a good family. On the other hand, it is piece of refined cruelty to keep a good young man or woman out of a comfortable situation, for small and innocent infirmities not detrimental to their real virtues and competency. For whom, then, is that man at work, who with a full knowledge of facts about a minister such as I have referred to, rejects him, as if he were a dunce, a blockhead, and a delinquent? I say that such a man is at work for Satan!
The language I have used in the conclusion of the last Chapter, will to some seem very extravagant and unjustifiable. But I keep my ground; I have very little hope of convincing headstrong men that I am right—but my prayer is, that they may be convinced before the searching, and to them that terrible, investigation of the day of judgment shall take place. God will not allow his faithful servants in the ministry to be (without any provocation given on their part) insulted, degraded, defamed and injured, with impunity.
The cold and calculating manner in which some amiable and valuable ministers are sometimes got rid of, is a thing perfectly horrible in the view of pious and well-judging Christians. Hence, from the peculiar character of some remonstrances, whether against a minister coming into a circuit, or remaining in one a second or third year, the conclusion is evident, that the remonstrators were for the time, and without being aware of it, instigated by an evil spirit. We find from the New Testament, that even a good man in ignorance, and while off his guard, may be the instrument of a fiend. Hence, Peter was once addressed by his Divine Master, imperatively and
with righteous severity, in these alarming words :“Get thee behind me, Satan, thou art an offence to me.” (Matt. xvi. 23.) I do not say that Satan prompts opposition to a minister, where he is obviously not suited to a place, or where another minister is previously engaged; but I do say, that when in the entire absence of such reasons for refusal, a good man is wantonly opposed, the devil heads the opposition.
When the great apostate spirit has a mind to harass a Christian minister, that he may get him, if possible, to resign his charge, and cause uproarious laughter in his own black dominions, he knows how to go to work; and he accordingly, like a skilful workman, selects his proper tools. He knows well enough that good ministers set free from pecuniary cares and depressing disappointments, preach well, and do a world of work for their good Master. He don't like this at all. He hates to see large congregations listening to the Word of life; he says he will thin them. He knows how to reduce Chapel audiences of seven or eight hundred to about forty persons,* and he will remove "the person.” He is a famous hand at emptying Churches and Chapels; he is a most expert mischief maker, and never fails, from time to time, to come out with his demonstrations, and let men on earth and angels in heaven know that he is the genuine veritable devil, and no mistake. And although the wisdom and goodness
* This has happened.