Page images
[ocr errors]

one marr; and though few were in circumstances to give much, yet many members and friends had hearts to give a little. Even in Baltimore and beyond, numbers contributed their mites with a seeming pleasure seldom equalled. It is time we shoul { return to our preacher who arrived so conspicuously. He stayed part of the year, and then retired abruptly.*

If ever there was a missionary station, Savannah was so at this time; but there was no missionary fund to be found in the Church. On the 4th of March, 1812, articles of agreement with the carpenter were signed; and the carpenter commenced the building forthwith : size, forty by sixty feet, and twenty in the clear, with a gallery on each side and in front. And in July following the Rev. James Russell, then stationed preacher, began to hold meetings in it; and in the ensuing winter it was dedicated by Bishop Asbury, who named it Wesley CHAPEL. Russell, possessing a genius considerably above the common level, and the art of contributing small means to great objects, appeared well qualified to engage in the conflict. He had early in youth received lectures in the school of adversity, from which he profited through life. Hardships he regarded not. Even his eccentricities were made tributary to the grand cause in which he was engaged. An unusual portion of the Divine unction accompanied his ministry. Thus qualified, he entered on the duties of his station, hoping against hope.'' To speak of accommodating him in the city was out of the question. The conference had no funds. Only three whites and two blacks had been returned as Church members : and though willing they could only spare a morsel. The tide of feeling in the community was then rolling high against Methodism. Thus situated, he prayed to God and took courage.

Sometimes a friend on the river would present him a few cords of wood, the conveyance to market and sale of which he would have to superintend. At other times, a friendly wagoner, or carman, would afford him such articles as he could spare. And he has been known to wade half leg deep in the mud, in a rice field, procuring forage to meet a contract in favor of a troop of horse, then stationed in Savannah. + For live he must, and live as he could. He found a kind friend in Col. P. Jack, then commanding a regiment there. Dr. L. Pierce about this time, stationed there as chaplain 'to the regiment, rendered efficient aid.

At first but few came to hear the word; but Russell in the complicated scenes through which he had to pass never forgot the object of his mission. He would preach Christ whether to one or to scores. Whether on the river, in the swamp, rice fields,street, hut, parlor, or

* At the ensuing annual conference his presiding elder charged him with having deserted his post in time of danger. He defended himself masterly, and closed by saying, 'I continued until I had expended the last sixpence in my possession for a loaf of bread. The only alternative left was-desertion or starvation!

t In the late war with England.

| An occurrence took place about this time which may serve as a specimen both of his zeal, and the state of feeling which then existed. An overseer on the Carolina side of Savannah șiver, who had known Russell in time past, on his death bed sent for him. He went, and became the instrument in bringing him to the knowledge of the truth. In luis last moments he was able to triumph over death. Sometime after his widow was taken ill and wished to see Russell. The presiding elder was then in town. In the evening he invited him to go over the river with

[ocr errors]



[ocr errors]

Church. In the meantime, among the neglected sick, he met with a welcome reception. Thus he went forth weeping, bearing precious seed.'

Such a missionary could not labor in vain. At times his hearers were considered objects of sport by the rabble, and others. But at no time have the Methodists in Savannah enjoyed better days than the little band of that day. To the names mentioned in the sketch, recorded in the Methodist Magazine of 1821, may be added Mrs. Mary Becu, who was the first brought to the knowledge of the truth under the Methodist ministry of whom we have any account. God honored the labors of the Rev. Jas. H. Mellard herein. Her change of heart was remarkable, and could not be doubted by any of the pious with whom she conversed. She died in peace.

York Minis, a black man from Georgetown, S. C., deserves notice. He contributed eight dollars to aid the building, and loaned his quarto family Bible for service in the pulpit, until the Church could procure

His piety was undoubted by all who were acquainted with him. His master, an Israelite of the old stock, relates a number of anecdotes highly honorable to his character as a pious man.

He died in peace. Thus the foundation of the Methodist Episcopal Church in Savannah was laid. In less than three years, the building which cost nearly $4500, was finished, and out of debt. At the end of this year (1812) the names of twenty-seven whites and twenty-five blacks were returned as in society. The number in society from that time to 1820 ranged between forty-six whites and one hundred and forty-seven colored. But still they appeared little known and little noticed. In 1819 the Rev. Wm. Capers was stationed there. Though large congregations attended, very little visible effect appeared. But all that Methodism asks is to give it a fair and impartial hearing. Numbers began to conclude, it might, perhaps, be no degradation to step into a Methodist church occasionally on a pleasant evening. And in 1820 the Almighty, in the dispensation of his providence, sent a rod. A disorder called the black vomit prevailed at this time. This spoke loud and deep. It forced its way to the heart. Many fled, and took refuge where they could find one. It required more than ordinary courage, even in a minister, to stand by his dying flock, and offer to them the words of eternal life in their expiring moments. Capers undaunted stood at his post. At all hours of the day and of the night he obeyed the calls of the sick and of the dying. Religion and eternity were subjects of paramount concern. Nor were the calls on him confined to the members of his own flock or congregation. The celebrated Dr. Henry Kollock had lately been called to his reward in heaven. In his latter days he and Capers formed a friendship such as Christian ministers ought to have. In his death they remained united. His mourning congregation felt the in



him to see her. On their approach they found A-cr-m the proprietor had just arrived. They thought they saw in his countenance a gathering thunder gust.The pastoral duties were performed forthwith ; and they retired to give place for his philosophy to set his mind even. The walk was on a long dam; it was a still, pleasant moonshine; but all would not do; the storm bursted, and I

he advanced in quick paces, attended by two or three negro' men in the rear,-uttering

they imprecations in quick succession. However, on his arrival at the rivers and had embarked in their canoe. He closed his oration by promising that, on their next visit, he would make them sound the bottom of Savannah river.

[ocr errors]


[ocr errors]

fluence,--and their calls mingled with those of his own charge, and his services were rendered with equal promptitude. In short, his heart was free to serve all the city. While the present generation lasts will the year 1820 be remembered with emotions of gratitude. Many came to hear the word, and were astonished to find true Methodism to be no other than rational and Scriptural Christianity. The year closed with a lively prospect of better days. In 1821 the Rev. John Howard was stationed in the city. The house was crowded to overflowing, so that it was forthwith enlarged twenty feet in length. To the wicked, he proved the son of thunder--to the penitent, the son of consolation. Many reformed and joined the Church; other Churches shared in the benefit of his labors. In a letter under date of 21st of August in that year," he thus writes :— At our last love-feast there were an unusual number of tickets issued. At the close of this ever-to-be-remembered love-feast, an offer was made to receive members, when, to our uiter astonishment, twenty-one persons came forward and offered themselves as candidates for membership in our Church ;' and he added that one hundred and thirty-one had been added since March preceding. This may be considered a new era in Methodism at Savannah. He was succeeded the two following years by the Rev. James 0. Andrew, now Bishop of the Church, who, when he saw the grace of God was glad, and exhorted them all that with purpose of heart they would cleave unto the Lord. In 1823 the first, and, as yet, the only annual conference, was held here. It should be noticed, also, that at this conference commenced a small society for the education of the children of travelling preachers of the Methodist Episcopal Church of the Georgia conference, then entitled, • The Union School Society,' from the circumstance of the Savannah Union Society generously granting the conference the privilege of holding its session in their hall. This society, for want of energy in its officers, has hitherto moved on but slowly, and has not been able to make any appropriations.

From 1821 to 1831 the number in society has ranged between two hundred and seventy and three hundred and ninety. During this space of time, its history has gone on in a more regular channel, and • mingled with those throughout the United States and Territories. In

fine, it may be remarked, that the spirituality of the Church is pow in more danger, by being noticed too much than too little by the community at large ; but by a Scriptural and spiritual ministry, and a regular and steady discipline, accompanied by the blessing of God, it promises to continue

here as long as in any city in the Union. Thus in these pages it has been attempted to show how Methodism in Savannah was not-was--and is.


W MAGEE ON THE ATONEMENT. Discourses and Dissertations on the Scriptural doctrines of the Atone

ment and Sacrifice, &c. BY WILLIAM MAGEE, D. D., &c, &c.

It is now several years since these Discourses were republished in this country.

edition before us was issued

in Philadelphia in


1825. It is not our intention to enter on a critical examination of this labored work, nor to point out its numerous defects. We should, indeed, have expected that a work of this character, coming from such a source, would have assumed a dignity of manner and expression suitable to the gravity and importance of the subjects it discusses. Instead of this, however, we find the author descending to low invective, to personal abuse, and to vile caricature, with a view, apparently, to render his antagonists ridiculous.

Independently, however, of these general defects which seem to us to pervade the work, there is a direct assault upon Mr. John Wesley, as unjust as it is ungenerous. Mr. Wesley has stood the fiery ordeal of criticism, as well as passed through the showers of personal abuse which have been poured upon him from a variety of quarters, and has always come forth from the conflict, not only with honor to himself, but with most evident disgrace to most of his antagonists. But among all the accusations brought against him by those who have thought it a duty to assail him, it was left for Dr. Magee, while professedly vindicating one of the most highly interesting doctrines of Divine revelation, to turn aside for the purpose of throwing reproach upon that eminent man, by attempting to fix upon him the Socinian or Arian heresy. This should have been the last sin to accuse Mr. John Wesley of. Perhaps no man ever preached and wrote more which is calculated to exalt the glory of Jesus Christ as the God-man, as the one Mediator between God and man, and as the sacrificial High Priest over the house of God, than Mr. John Wesley. His Sermons, particularly his Sermon on the Trinity, the volume of Hymns which he published, as well as the doctrine and discipline received and recognized by that Church which he was instrumental in founding, unite their voices to silence the slanderous accusation of Dr. Magee, and those who iterate his unmanly and disparaging assertions. To those who are acquainted with the admirable writings of Mr. Wesley, it will be surprising to hear the following language from the author before us. After enumerating the articles of the Established Church of England which Mr. Wesley left out of his abridgment of the Book of Common Prayer, Dr. Magee adds :

• Thus it appears, that the Socinian is not the only sectary that would degrade the dignity of Christ.' And that all his readers may have a just idea of the dangerous heresies taught by Wesley, Dr. Magee refers his readers to · Bishop Lavington's Enthusiasm of Methodists and Papists compared,' and says, Whoever wishes to form a just idea of the per

, nicious extravagancies of this enthusiastic teacher, and of his followers, will find ample satisfaction in the bishop's book.' (Vol. i, p. 121.) Whatever confidence we may have in the learning and general intelli


gence of this author, when we know that he has so manifestly perverted the sentiments of another, for whatever purpose, we instinctively distrust his fidelity, and confide in the soundness and correctness of his criticisms no farther than he is borne out by the concurrent testimony of cotemporaneous writers, or such as have written on kindred subjects. So far, therefore, is Dr. Magee to be trusted in the adducement of his facts, and the accuracy of his learned criticisms, as we can test their truth and accuracy from other and more authentic sources, and no farther.

To what suspicious authority has Dr. Magee referred his readers for a representation of Wesley's doctrine and conduct! Among all the aspersers of his character, no one had less regard to truth than Lavington. Any one may be convinced of this who will read over Mr. Wesley's characteristic answers to that scurrilous writer. Witty and frothy, vulgar and abusive in the highest degree, the bishop of Exeter degraded the dignity of his official character by laboring to render Mr. Wesley ridiculous, his doctrine loathsome, and his practice suspicious; but in doing this he proved himself as destitute of candor and honesty, as he was of the knowledge of the peculiar doctrines of Christianity. All experimental religion with this defamer of Wesleyan Methodism, was treated as rank enthusiasm, and as forming a fit parallelism with the offensive features of popery. And yet this is the authority on which one who was afterward made a bishop, probably as the reward of his pious labors in defence of orthodoxy, relies for proof of the 'pernicious extravagancies' of the doctrine taught by John Wesley. How easy is it by such unfair means to prove whatever we may wish to be true!

It has been for the purpose chiefly of entering our protest against this unmanly and unjust treatment of Mr. Wesley, that we have referred to these dissertations at all; for though the work possesses some excellencies and valuable criticisms, it is by no means entitled to that celebrity which has been awarded to it by those whose more immediate interest might be promoted by its circulation. And it is with no little regret that an author writing on such a subject, should descend to pollute his pages with reflections so manifestly unjust toward one of the most holy, learned, orthodox, and successful ministers of Jesus Christ, which any Church or age has produced since the days of plenary inspiration.

Having thus discharged what we consider an act of justice toward an injured servant of God, we shall proceed to give our views on the Scriptural doctrine of atonement. This subject is approached with no little diffidence, not only on account of its own intrinsic importance, but also because of the indefinite and often contradictory manner in which it has been treated. While the Socinian strives to lower down the

[ocr errors]


« PreviousContinue »