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to prepare the Ecclesiastical History (by Mr. Wesley, perhaps) for the committee, and to adapt Mr. Wesley's Appeal to the Methodists to the circumstances and situation of the United States. Dr. Coke was too busy to prepare any of these volumes, and none of them were printed. The “Repository" was intended, probably, to be a library series, like that of Mr. Wesley's "Christian Library," which was printed in fifty volumes, 16mo, each containing about 320 pages.
The general book-steward and his assistant were authorized to preserve, alter, or change the phraseology and measure of our pocket hymn-book as they in their wisdom might judge best; and Dr. Coke was requested to examine the present hymn-book, and to give his thoughts concerning it. The principal work on the hymn-book, selecting and revising, was done, however, by Bishop Asbury.
Baltimore was selected as the place for holding the next General Conference, and on the 23d day of the month the Conference adjourned to meet May 1, 1808.
HE General Conference of 1808 met in Baltimore, May
6th. The number of annual conferences was seven, and one hundred and twenty-nine preachers were present. these the Baltimore, New York, and Philadelphia conferences had eighty-two. William Penn Chandler was elected secretary, and Francis Ward assistant secretary. Bishop Whatcoat was dead, and Dr. Coke was absent, so that Bishop Asbury was alone left to preside.
A Committee of Correspondence, consisting of Ezekiel Cooper, Joshua Wells, and Daniel Hitt, was appointed (John Pitts subsequently taking the place of Joshua Wells), and a Committee of Review and Inspection was also formed, consisting of one member from each annual conference, to wit: Samuel Coate, of New York; Martin Ruter, of New England; William McKendree, of Western; James H. Millard, of South Carolina; Jesse Lee, of Virginia; Nelson Reed, of Baltimore, and Thomas Ware, of Philadelphia.
Ezekiel Cooper presented to the Conference certain letters received from England, being the printed address of the British Conference, two letters from Dr. Coke to the General Conference, and one from him to Bishop Asbury. During the reading of these letters, Bishop Asbury withdrew from the Conference from motives of delicacy, as there were some encomiums bestowed upon him in the British address. In the mean time, Freeborn Garrettson occupied the chair. The address from the Wesleyan Conference and the letters from Dr. Coke were referred to the Committee on Correspondence; and the case of Dr. Coke was referred to a special committee of three, to report thereon. This committee made its report the next day—May 7th-and, with amendments, it was adopted as follows:
“1. Resolved, That the General Conference do agree and consent that Dr. Coke may continue in Europe till he be called to the United States by the General Conference, or by all the annual conferences respectively.
“2. Resolved, That we retain a grateful remembrance of the services and labors of Dr. Coke among us, and the thanks of this Conference are hereby acknowledged to him, and to God, for all his labors of love toward us, from the time he first left his native country to
“3. Resolved, That Dr. Coke's name shall be retained on our Minutes after the name of the bishops, in a N. B.-' Dr. Coke, at the request of the British Conference, and by consent of our General Conference, resides in Europe; he is not to exercise the office of superintendent or bishop among us in the United States, until he be recalled by the General Conference, or by all the annual conferences respectively.'
“4. Resolved, That the Committee of Correspondence be, and are hereby, directed to draft two letters, one to the British Conference, the other to Dr. Coke, in answer to their respective letters to us, and therein communicating to them, respectively, the contents of the above resolutions.”
A memorial from the New York Conference, on the necessity of making the General Conference a delegated body, was read. In this memorial the New England, the Western, and the South Carolina Conferences joined. A committee of fourteen members, two from each conference, was appointed, to draw up such regulations as they might think best for the government of the General Conference as a delegated body, and report the same for consideration by the Conference. The committee was selected by the several conferences as follows: Ezekiel Cooper and John Wilson, New York; George Pickering and Joshua Soule, New England; William McKendree and William Burke, Western; William Phoebus and Josiah Randle, South Carolina; Philip Bruce and Jesse Lee, Virginia; Stephen G. Roszel and Nelson Reed, Baltimore; and John McClaskey and Thomas Ware, Philadelphia.
The continued absence of Dr. Coke in England and the recent death of Bishop Whatcoat (he died July 5, 1806) made it necessary to strengthen the episcopacy; and it was variously proposed to elect one, or seven, or two additional bishops, but the Conference thought it best to elect but one. The election took place on May 12th, and the votes given were as follows: For William McKendree, 95; Ezekiel Cooper, 24; Jesse Lee, 4; Thomas Ware, 3, and Daniel Hitt, 2; total, 128. The ordination of the bishop-elect took place on Wednesday, May 18th, Elders Garrettson, Bruce, Lee, and Ware assisting Bishop Asbury in the services.
The Committee on Regulating and Perpetuating the General Conference met and appointed three of their number as a sub-committee, to formulate a plan. This sub-committee was composed of Ezekiel Cooper, Philip Bruce, and Joshua Soule. Each member agreed to prepare a plan, but only Cooper and Soule put anything down on paper. Both of these agreed that the General Conference should not do away with episcopacy; but Soule and Bruce insisted that it should be a general itinerant superintendency, and not one of a limited or diocesan character. And so the entire plan, as prepared by Soule, was submitted to the committee of fourteen, adopted by them, and reported to the Conference.
Cooper, who favored the election of seven bishops—one for each conference—was also in favor of electing the presiding elders. When the report of the committee of fourteen was brought into the Conference, the consideration of the plan submitted by them was postponed, to take up a resolution introduced by Mr. Cooper, to the effect that each annual conference should, without debate, annually choose, by ballot, its own presiding elders. This resolution was debated for two or three days; but upon putting it to vote it was lost, only fifty-two voting for it and seventy-three against it. The report of the committee of fourteen, providing for a delegated General Conference, was then voted on May 18th) and lost, fifty-seven voting for and sixty-four against.
The preachers from the Philadelphia and Baltimore Conferences generally voted in the negative, and much feeling was excited among the members from the more distant conferences. Those from New England asked leave to withdraw, stating that they did not desire to create any disturbance; but their presence any longer was needless, as they constituted only a small minority. The Western members also felt outraged. “Burke's brow,” says Henry Smith, in his Recollections, "gathered a solemn frown; Sale and others looked sad; and as for poor Lakin, he wept like a child.” But on May 23d the subject of a delegated General Conference was again considered; and, on motion of Enoch George, it was voted by a very large majority that “The General Conference shall be composed of one member for every five members of each annual conference.” Thus was established the principle of a delegated General Conference, conceding to the conferences at a distance from the center all that they asked for in the way of an equitable representation. This representation was made as large as possible. This was the first item in the plan which had been proposed by the committee. The other items were taken up separately, and, with a few verbal amendments and differences, were adopted by the Conference, and together they form what has been known ever since as “the Constitution." The Journal of the General Conference does not contain it as finally passed, except piece-meal, as the secretary at the moment reduced it to writing. It appears in complete and corrected form in the Discipline for 1808, evidently edited from the original manuscript report, perhaps by Bishop Asbury and John Wilson, the book agent. It has been republished with but little change in every edition of the Discipline since.
The annual conferences were allowed to choose their own plans for the raising of supplies for the preachers. It was provided that if the amounts allowed the preachers should not be raised, the society should not be accountable for the deficiency, as in the case of ordinary debts.
The Committee of Review reported on several matters referred to them: 1. That the manuscript hymn-book compiled by Daniel Hitt is, upon the whole, a good one, and that it would be of considerable advantage to our people if published in a separate volume, so that those who have the present hymnbook might be supplied with this, and that in future both should be combined into one volume. 2. It would be better to publish selections from the book of letters giving accounts of the progress of the Church and revivals rather than the entire book. This was intended, perhaps, to constitute one of the volumes of the proposed Methodist Repository. 3. It would not be advisable to adopt the music book proposed by Brother James Evans, of New York; but should he think proper to publish it on his own account, the preachers would recommend it in their various societies as a work of merit. 4. The committee has taken a cursory view of a manuscript