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Under this head the first question and answer were as follows:

Quest. 1. What is the proper origin of the episcopal authority in our Church?

Answ. In the year 1784 the Rev. John Wesley, who, under God, has been the father of the great revival of religion now extending over the earth by the means of the Methodists, determined at the intercession of multitudes of his spiritual children on this continent, to ordain ministers for America, and for this purpose sent over three regularly ordained clergy; but preferring the episcopal mode of church-government to any other, he solemnly set apart, by the imposition of his hands and prayer, one of them, viz., Thomas Coke, Doctor of Civil Law, late of Jesus-College, in the university of Oxford, for the episcopal office; and having delivered to him letters of episcopal orders, commissioned and directed him to set apart Francis Asbury, then general assistant of the Methodist society in America, for the same episcopal office, he the said Francis Asbury being first ordained deacon and elder. In consequence of which the said Francis Asbury was solemnly set apart for the said episcopal office by prayer and the imposition of the hands of the said Thomas Coke, other regularly ordained ministers assisting in the sacred ceremony. At which time the general conference, held at Baltimore, did unanimously receive the said Thomas Coke and Francis Asbury as their bishops, being fully satisfied of the validity of their episcopal ordination.

In the Discipline of 1792 these statements do not appear as two separate sections; but, with some changes, are condensed into one section, and appear as the first section of the first chapter, as follows:

SECTION I. Of the Origin of the Methodist Episcopal Church. The Preachers and Members of our Society in general, being convinced that there was a great deficiency of vital religion in the Church of England in America, and being in many places destitute of the Christian sacraments, as several of the Clergy had forsaken their churches, requested the late Rev. John Wesley to take such measures in his wisdom and prudence as would afford them suitable relief in their distress.

In consequence of this, our venerable friend, who, under God, had been the father of the great revival of religion now extending over the earth by the means of the Methodists, determined to ordain ministers for America; and for this purpose, in the year 1784, sent over three regularly ordained clergy; but preferring the episcopal mode of church-government to any other, he solemnly set apart, by the imposition of his hands and prayer, one of them, viz., Thomas Coke, Doctor of Civil Law, late of Jesus-College in the university of Oxford, and a Presbyter of the Church of England, for the episcopal office; and having delivered to him letters of episcopal orders, commissioned and directed him to set apart Francis Asbury, then general assistant of the Methodist society in America, for the same episcopal office, he the said Francis Asbury being first ordained deacon and elder. In consequence of which the said Francis Asbury was solemnly set apart for the said episcopal office, by prayer and the imposition of the hands of the said Thomas Coke, other regularly ordained ministers assisting in the sacred ceremony. At which time the general conference, held at Baltimore, did unanimously receive the said Thomas Coke and Francis Asbury as their bishops, being fully satisfied of the validity of their episcopal ordination.

With the exception of the table of contents, this ended the Discipline of 1792.

ADJOURNMENT. The General Conference of 1792 remained in session fifteen full days. Having completed its work, it adjourned in the evening of Thursday, the fifteenth of November, and that night Bishop Coke preached on “Pure Religion and Undefiled.”

Thus ended this most important General Conference.

1798.

THE

General Conference of 1796 met in the city of Balti

more, on Thursday, October 20th. Of two hundred and ninety-three preachers belonging to the Connexion, only one hundred and twenty were in attendance, though two hundred and twenty-nine were entitled to membership in that body. No list was kept of the preachers present, but the majority of them were from the nearer circuits and districts.

Those who composed the Conference were well trained in Methodism, and spent no time in "contentions and strivings about the law.” Their single aim was to promote the interests of the Church, the spiritual welfare of its members, and the glory of God. Bishops Coke and Asbury presided. The session was one of great harmony, and continued for two weeks, adjourning on November 3d. The principal subjects which demanded attention were the proper support of the ministry, the number of yearly conferences to be held, the titles to Church property, and the employment of local preachers.

During this session, as in the previous one, the religious element was prominent, and through the preaching of the bishops and the other ministers, many souls were awakened and converted. God abundantly blessed the labors of his servants to the people of Baltimore, and the results were seen after many days.

Dr. Coke brought with him from the British Conference an affectionate address to “the General Conference of the people called Methodists, in America,” to which an answer was prepared, to be presented by the same messenger on his return to England. Both Conferences rejoiced in the instruments chosen by infinite Wisdom to carry on the work, and rejoiced that God had raised up their late father in the gospel, the Reverend John Wesley, to organize a new society of faithful men to promote the revival of religion among the people. The American brethren say:

“We admire with you the method God is taking to beat down the pride of philosophy, even by choosing the foolish things of the

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world to confound the wise, and the weak things of the world to confound the things that are mighty; and this is agreeable to the method of God's proceedings in the purest times of Christianity. At the same time the Lord has not left us without men, who, when necessary, are able to contend against that vain philosophy with its own weapons of logical arguments, and with success; though we are sensible how far we are inferior to you, our elder brethren, in this respect."

The number of annual conferences was limited to six, though the bishops, if they should deem it necessary, were authorized to form a seventh in the province of Maine. Heretofore the number of yearly conferences to be held was indefinite. These conferences were sometimes very meager, consisting of the preachers of a single district only, or of one or two small ones. Thus in 1789 Bishop Asbury held eleven conferences, and in 1790, fourteen; in 1791 he held thirteen, and in 1792, seventeen. In 1793, there were twenty, and the next year, fourteen; but in 1795, the number fell to seven. To hold such small conferences, says the Journal, “was attended with many inconveniences; 1. There were but few of the senior preachers whose years and experience had matured their judgments, who could be present at any one conference; 2. The conferences wanted that dignity which every religious synod should possess, and which always accompanies a large assembly of gospel ministers; 3. The itinerant plan was exceedingly cramped, from the difficulty of removing preachers from one district to another.” To these considerations the Conference adds a fourth: “that the active, zealous, unmarried preachers may move on a larger scale, and preach the ever-blessed gospel far more extensively through the sixteen states, and other parts of the continent; whilst the married preachers, whose circumstances require them in many instances to be more located than the single men, will have a considerable field of action opened to them, and also the bishops will be able to attend the conferences with greater ease, and without injury to their health.”

The six yearly conferences thus established by the General Conference were as follows: 1. The New England Conference, covering all of New England and New York east of the Hudson river. 2. Philadelphia, covering the remainder of New York, and all of Pennsylvania east of the Susquehannah river, the state of Delaware, and all the rest of the Peninsula. 3. The Baltimore, covering the remainder of Maryland and the northern neck of Virginia. 4. The Virginia, for all that part of Virginia which lies on the south side of the Rappa hannock river, and that part of North Carolina lying on the north side of Cape Fear river, including also the circuits situated on the branches of the Yadkin. 5. The South Carolina, embracing South Carolina, Georgia, and the remainder of North Carolina. 6. The Western, for the states of Kentucky and Tennessee.

From this review it will be seen how widely the work of the itinerancy extended; and yet it was foreseen that it would grow within these limits, and expand even beyond them. Hence the Conference added a proviso, “that the bishops shall have authority to appoint other yearly conferences in the interval of the General Conference, if a sufficiency of new circuits be anywhere formed for that purpose.” The work did, indeed, spread; and in less than two years it had entered the territory northwest of the Ohio, and covered portions of the states not hitherto occupied. Seven conferences were held in 1798, and the same number in 1799, in which year there were 272 preachers in the Connexion. “So mightily grew the word of God and prevailed."

Several alterations were made in the form of Discipline, and some new regulations added. It was determined that the conferences which had heretofore been called "district conferences," though they were held only once a year, should be known as "yearly conferences.” The preachers on trial were to continue on their circuits during the times when these annual conferences sat, so as not to leave the people without the services of the Church, and none were to attend the conference, however near, except those who were in full connexion, or who were about to be so received.

For the first time the Conference caused to be inserted in the Discipline a form of deed for conveying and securing Church property. This form was intended to be applicable in all the states, subject to such modifications as the separate state laws might require. The Conference directed that it should be provided in every deed, charter or conveyance, that the trustees of all our meeting-houses permit such ministers and

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