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WINNING SOULS FOR CHRIST. The following remarks, and any that may follow in succeeding numbers of this magazine, are intended for the perusal and meditation of Local Preachers in their grand work of preaching the Gospel.
In order to attain success in “ winning souls,” it is essential that the preacher be “one sent from God.” By this we mean that he shall have a clear, undoubted call from God to “preach the Gospel."
Two things are indispensable in connection with this call: 1st. He must be converted, “and have become a new creature" in Christ Jesus, for not until he has felt the agonising smart of a guilty conscience, and of a sinful and polluted soul, and sought and found redemption through the precious blood of the Lamb, can be possibly be in a condition to lead sinners to Cbrist.
2nd. He must be strongly impressed with a desire to call sinners to repentance; not a temporary emotion, but an abiding, ever-present longing to save souls; and which will manifest itself on every occasion when opportunity offers : to such a one the door will soon be opened, the path soon made plain by Divine Providence and the teachings of the Holy Spirit. With a Divine call will assuredly be given zeal for the work. The preacher must be an aggressor, an assailant, and that of a determined character ; his work is "against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this world, against spiritual wickedness in high places, against the prince of the power of the air.”
So imperative is zeal for God in this work, that no amount of learning, no powers of eloquence, will suffice for it. These will greatly assist, but alone are powerless for the overthrowing of the kingdom of the evil one. This zeal must know no abatement ; for however much we may comprehend the magnitude of the evil, and the strength of opposing powers; and though, like David, we feel ourselves to be but “striplings,"
“ and apparently have to go singlehanded to the battle, yet we must remember “The Lord your God is he that goeth with you, to fight for you against your enemies ; ” and, “ They that be with us are more than they that be with them.” A true zeal implies a deep love for the cause.
It is no use “putting on spurts,” or trying to be earnest ; it will be but the report of the rifle without the bullet, and therefore without execution.
Some writer has said, “ What is preached coldly, is heard carelessly;" and if as preachers we manifest but little concern upon such stupendous and all-important topics, it can scarcely be expected that our congregations will manifest much more. We will only add here, that mingling in revivals, wherever found, throwing aside any minor matters, and lending our brethren a helping hand, will be the means of quickening our own zeal, and fitting us to carry on such work in our own churches.
THE ECUMENICAL METHODIST CONFERENCE.
When it was intimated that a General Conference of the great Methodist Family throughout the world should be held at some time and place, the project seemed somewhat utopian. The idea, however, found supporters and promoters, and it has been carried out; and such a meeting was held in the far-famed City Road METHODIST CHAPEL, LONDON.
The Methodist Family was marked out by the preparatory Committee according to its geographical relations into two divisions, distinguished as East and West.
THE EASTERN SECTION embraced the Wesleyan Methodist Church, the Irish Methodist Church, the Methodist New Connexion, Primitive Methodist Church, Bible Christian Churches, The United Methodist Free Churches, Wesleyan Reform Union, United Free Gospel Churches, French Methodists, and the Australasian Methodist Churches.
Here we have in “ The Wesleyan Methodist Church” the original stock, from which has shot forth eight distinct branches, grouped together.
THE WESTERN SECTION is headed by what is now called “ The Methodist Episcopal Church,” as the original stock; and the branches are, The Methodist Episcopal Church South, Methodist Protestant Church, Evangelical Association, United Brethren, American Wesleyan Church, Free Methodist Church, Primitive Methodist Church in the United States, Independent Methodist Church, Congregational Methodist Church, African Methodist Episcopal Church, Methodist Episcopal Church Zion, Coloured Methodist Church of America, Methodist Church of Canada, Methodist Episcopal Church of Canada, Primitive Methodist Church of Canada, Canadian Bible Christians. With the exception of the last two bodies, which are connected with England, the other fifteen have each a separate organic existence, and are entirely independent of each other.
Whatever may have been said respecting our divisions in this country, it is evident that our American brethren have exceeded us in this, as well as in other respects.
Dr. Edwards, of the Methodist Episcopal Church in America, gave us statistics, which we will arrange under the two great sections into which on this occasion, the Methodist Family is divided. The Eastern Section, according to Dr. Edwards, has 53,206 local preachers; 5,429 travelling preachers; 1,052,559 members; 15,325 Sunday schools; 195,281 teachers; 1,684,250 scholars. In the Western Section, 31,207 local preachers ; 26,743 travelling preachers; 3,710,385 members ; 43,656 Sunday schools; 322,324 teachers ; 2,796,384 scholars. The total in the two sections, 84,453 local preachers ; 32,172 travelling preachers ; 4,762,944 members ; 59,161 Sunday schools; 577,542 teachers; 4,480,634 scholars.
Dr. Edwards supposes that the travelling preachers are not reckoned
in the number of members, and he adds them to that number; thus bringing up the grand total to 4,795,116, as constituting the vast Methodist Family scattered over the face of the earth. Adding the Methodist hearers to the registered members, it certainly is not too much to say that, at the present time, there are twenty millions of adult persons connected with Methodism, besides cbildren.
In order to carry out the idea of a General Conference, committees were necessary.
These were constituted-after it had been determined to have the meeting in London—more largely, of course, of the British section. These committees comprised a General Executive Committee, a Business Committee, and a Publication Committee, formed from the Eastern and Western Sections combined. In addition, there were the Reception, the Finance, and the Plan Committee. These committees had their work to do; and, as far as we were able to judge, they did it well.
A sermon was preached in the morning of the first day, Wednesday, Sep. 7th, by Bishop Simpson from America ; after which the Lord's Supper was celebrated. In the afternoon an address of welcome was delivered by Dr. Osborn, President of the Wesleyan Methodist Confer.
Topics were given for the subsequent days as follow : Methodism, its History and Results; Evangelical Agencies of Methodism; Metholism and the Young ; The Lord's Day and Temperance; Possible Perils nf Methodism; Education; The Use of the Press; Home Missions ; Foreign Missions; and Christian Unity.
A Chairman was chosen for each day ; selected, we think with sound judgment and unquestionable impartiality; distributing the honour equally over the East and West, and giving to each prominent body a share.
High commendation is due to the proprietors of The Methodist Recorder, for their public spirit in arranging for a daily issue of their paper ; which, as far as we were able to judge, was not only carried out promptly, but efficiently ; for the work was done well.
We were not able to attend the Conference more than four days, but the reports in the Recorder put us in possession of the doings of each day.
After attending the morning session of the second day, we had occasion to transact some business in a Methodist establishment near the chapel. Two gentlemen came in ; and, as near as we can remember, one said to his companion:
“ Well, if Job had been alive now, and had attended this Conference, he must have had his patience tried. Why, what have we learned ? A morning wasted. If this be attending an Ecumenical Conference, may I be kept out of it !”
When the gentleman had relieved himself of this utterance, I broke in and said:
“I must say, in coming to this Conference my expectations were not very great; but I have been agreeably disappointed. I have received both instruction and benefit."
My friend said something about my years, and intimated, “ that if I could be satisfied with such an exhibition as we had witnessed that morning, I had not great expectations."
I very modestly replied: "The very fact of such & gathering of Christian brethren, black and white, from all parts of the world, was one of the most gratifying scenes I had ever looked upon.” My friend admitted there was something in that, and he and his companion departed. After he had gone I inquired of the manager,
“ Who was that gentleman ?" He replied, “ That was the Rev. S. ****, Wesleyan Minister." I looked in the Minutes when I reacbed home to see how long he had been in the work. 1863! How unwise, I thought, for a Wesleyan Minister to speak in such a supercilious way of the Conference just held, to the manager, before his two young assistants and an aged stranger. This led me to think I had met with a few supercilious men in my time. Did I ever meet or read of a truly great man who was supercilious ? The answer was,
" never.” In addition to the chairman, there were seats and tables on the platform for four secretaries, chosen from the principal sections. John Bond and J. S. Withington from the Eastern Section ; Dr. George and Dr. Sutherland from the Western. No doubt a great part of the preparatory work had fallen upon John Bond, who had now to take the leading part; and no fitter person could be found. Prompt, patient, ready, genial. As I sat directly opposite to him in the front seat of the gallery the first morning I attended, I was greatly taken with him nothing supercilious about him).
The Conference really began on Tuesday morning, Bishop Peck presiding. Dr. W. Cooke, of the New Connexion, caine forward to read the first address, on “The grateful recognition of the hand of God in the Origin and Progress of Methodism.” He said he understood that thirty minutes would be allowed him, but he found he had only twenty, and he looked towards the secretary, by way of inquiry, if his time could not be extended; but John Bond shook his head; and when the doctor had occupied the twenty minutes and the president's bell rang, the secretary seenied really to enjoy his being cut short. The President, while he was as courteous as possible, was as firm as a rock. followed on Statistical Results,” by Dr. A. Edwards, of the Methodist Episcopal Church. Each leading paper was followed by an “invited address,” the person being allowed ten minutes ; the speakers on the floor five minutes only. We think this was a judicious arrangement.
The afternoon session was opened with an essay by the Rev. W. Arthur, M.A., on “ Methodism : A Power Purifying and Elevating Society." He was followed by Bishop L. H. Wolsey, coloured Methodist Episcopal
Church of America : and a second essay by Dr. Wilson, of the Methodist Episcopal Church South, on “ The influence that Methodism has exerted on other religious bodies, and the extent to which they have modified Methodism.”
It is not now necessary to enlarge, but just to give the subjects and the names of the introducers.
Third day, Friday, Sept. 9.-—"The Itinerant Ministry ;" essay by Dr. S. Antliff, Primitive Methodist. "Lay Preachers : " essay by Hon. J. W. F. White, Methodist Episcopal Church. “Women, and their Work in Methodism: essay by Rev. F. W. Bourne, Bible Christian. “ Scriptural Holiness, and the special fitness of Methodist means of grace to promote it:" essay by Dr. Newman, Methodist Episcopal Church,
Fourth day, Saturday, Sept. 10th.-" The training of Children in Christian Homes, so as to bring them to Christ, and attach them to Methodism :" essay by Rev. Jos. Wood, Primitive Methodist.
6. The Training of Children in the Sunday School and Church, so as to secure the largest evangelical denominational results : ” essay by Dr. H. A. Thompson, United Brethren Church.
Fifth day, Monday, Sept. 12th.-“ Methodism and the Lord's Day:" essay by Rev. John Baker, British Wesleyan Church. " Relation of Methodism to the Temperance Movement:" essay by Bishop Payne, African Methodist Episcopal Church. “Juvenile Temperance Organisations, and their promotion through the Sunday School and Church : essay by Charles Garrett, British Church. " Civil Measures to suppress Intemperance, and the relation of the Church to such movements : essay by Dr. Walden, Methodist Episcopal Church.
Sixth day, Tuesday, Sept. 13th.-" The Papacy, Sacerdotalism, and its connected Errors : essay by Rev. J. Guttridge, United Free Churches. “Modern Scepticism, in its different forms and manifestations : "essay by Dr. Daniel Curry, Methodist Episcopal Church. “ Formality, Worldliness, and Improper Amusements among our own Members : W. McKay, Irish Methodist Church. “ Innovations upon established Methodist usages and institutions : " essay by Bishop Thompson, Methodist Episcopal Zion Church,
Seventh day, Wednesday, Sept. 14th.-" The Higher Education demanded by the Church in our time: " essay by Mr. T. S. Osborn, British Methodist Church. “ The Duty of the Church to maintain Schools which are Christian in their influence and character:
essay by Dr. C. S. Andrews, Methodist Episcopal Church South. “The Educa
• tion and Special Training of Ministers in Theological Schools : " essay by Dr. W. B. Pope, British Methodist Church. “ The Education and Special Training of Ministers while engaged in ministerial and pastoral work :” essay by Dr. E. J. Budgeley, Methodist Episcopal Church, Canada.
essay by Dr. J.