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recommending that a committee of three be appointed to assist Dr. S. K. Jennings, in furnishing such further facts and information as may be obtained concerning the bishop, and in revising the manuscript, and that the sum of $225 be allowed for the expense of preparing it so far as it is completed. When finished, the book agents and book committee should determine what further sum shall be allowed to Dr. Jennings.
The Constitution of the Missionary Society was amended, and a copy given to the Corresponding Secretary to be presented to the managers. The ratio of representation in the General Conference was fixed at one delegate for every seven members of the General Conference, and Baltimore was chosen as the place for holding the next session.
The letter of resignation presented by Joshua Soule was called for and read, and a motion was passed requesting him to withdraw his resignation and comply with the wishes of his brethren in submitting to be ordained. Mr. Soule, who was absent from the Conference room when the vote was taken, came in immediately afterward, and again stated his purpose to resign. His resignation was accepted.
It had been moved in the morning session, "that the rule passed at this Conference respecting the nomination and election of presiding .elders be suspended until the next General Conference; and that the superintendents be and they are hereby directed to act under the old rule respecting the appointment of presiding elders.”
A motion to postpone this resolution was negatived by a vote of thirty-nine to forty-four, and it was then laid on the table. After Mr. Soule's resignation was accepted, the question was taken up, and on being put to vote was carried by dividing the house, forty-five on one side to thirty-five on the other.
The bishops who should attend the New York Conference, and three members of the Conference, Joshua Soule, Nathan Bangs, and Daniel Ostrander, were appointed a committee to revise the Discipline.
The expenses of the delegates were ordered to be paid out of the funds belonging to the Book Concern, the entire amount being $1,673.19. Resolutions of thanks were passed, and on the 27th day of May the Conference adjourned.
THE ninth General Conference met in Baltimore on Satur
day, May 1, 1824, and was opened with religious exercises by Bishop McKendree. John Emory was elected secretary. One hundred and twenty-five delegates, from the twelve annual conferences, were present. Richard Reece and John Hannah, representatives from the British Conference, were introduced, and Mr. Reece presented an address from his Conference, with the proper credentials, and made a very affectionate and interesting address.
An address from the senior bishop was presented and read, and laid on the table until rules of order should be adopted. The following committees were appointed: On Episcopacy, Boundaries, Itinerancy, Local Ministers, Book Concern, Missions, Churches and Parsonages, People of Color, Revisals and Unfinished Business, Canadian Affairs, and on Addresses, Petitions, Memorials, etc.
The various topics spoken of in the bishops' address were referred to the appropriate committees. A committee was appointed to address the British Conference in answer to their communication addressed to the American General Conference, through Doctors Reece and Hannah. Dr. Reece was requested to favor the Conference with such suggestions and views as he might be pleased to make.
A communication from the trustees of the Chartered Fund was referred to the Committee on Itinerancy. A vacancy in the Board was filled by the election of Thomas Jackson.
Through some carelessness on the part of the former secretary or custodian, a few of the papers belonging to the General Conference placed in the Conference trunk were injured by a bottle of ink being broken among them; but a special committee of scrutiny reported that all were legible except an exhibit of the Book Concern in New York, which was totally defaced.
Early in the session the question of increasing the number of the bishops was referred to the Committee on Episcopacy. The health of Bishop McKendree was still infirm, and he arranged with his colleagues for them to occupy the chair during the session of the General Conference most of the time.
With reference to the publication of books, the Committee on the Book Concern were directed to inquire whether books containing doctrines contrary to those believed and inculcated by the Church do not issue from our presses; whether it is expedient to purchase for distribution among our societies books from other publishers; and whether a cheaper binding of our books may not be used. Up to this date all the volumes published by the Book Concern had been bound with leather covers, calf or sheep—both more expensive than cloth.
The cause of education has always interested the Church. Some of our earlier attempts at establishing colleges proved a failure. Private institutions for the training of Methodist youths were undertaken, and some of the conferences had under their control academies or seminaries; but there was no school of high grade now in existence. Hence the Committee on Education were directed to inquire into the expediency and practicability of establishing a general seminary of learning, or college, under the supervision of the General Conference.
As there was at this time in some of the societies of the Church much talk about lay representation in its higher councils, the following resolution was introduced and passed:
“Resolved, That the Committee of Address on Petitions, etc., be instructed to inquire into the expediency of directing the several annual conferenoes to take measures to ascertain the sentiments of our preachers, traveling and local, and also of the members of our Church, on the subject of a lay delegation, and report the result to the next General Conference."
This resolution was offered before the extreme and impolitic agitation of the subject by the so-called "Reformers” had been inaugurated or outlined. As will be seen hereafter they were unwilling to wait; and though the ends they proposed may have been just and equitable, they were hasty in action and intemperate in the use of language. Invective never ascends to the dignity of an argument.
Certain changes were ordered to be made in the Discipline, most of which tended to a greater simplicity in the government and methods of the Church, and giving the annual conferences more power to regulate matters of a strictly local character, such as the building of churches, their relation to slavery in the slave states, the appointment of trustees for Church property, etc. Those who held slaves were urged to teach them to read the Bible, and to allow colored preachers to attend the quarterly conferences. Presiding elders were also authorized to hold quarterly conferences for colored preachers exclusively, if they thought best.
The relations of the Conference in Canada to those in the United States were referred to the Committee on the Affairs of Canada to be amicably adjusted, though Canadian Methodism was not made independent.
William Burke, of Cincinnati, appealed to the General Conference against the action of the Ohio Conference which expelled him from the ministry, and he was allowed to speak in his own behalf. The Ohio Conference was represented by John Waterman. When the vote was taken, the action of that Conference was affirmed.
A committee was appointed on disputed accounts between the Book Concern and certain individuals, with authority to adjust the same.
The following resolution, offered by David Young, was carried by a vote of 63 for to 61 against:
“WHEREAS, A majority of the annual conferences have judged the resolutions making presiding elders elective, and which were passed and then suspended at the last General Conference, unconstitutional; therefore,
“Resolved, That the said resolutions are not of authority, and shall not be carried into effect."
A committee of three was appointed to inquire what is necessary to be done by this General Conference in reference to the "Life of Bishop Asbury.” The Committee on Episcopacy having recommended that the episcopacy be strengthened by the election of two bishops, the Conference proceeded to ballot for the same. On the first ballot, 128 votes were cast, of which Joshua Soule received 64 votes, William Beauchamp 62, Elijah Hedding 61, John Emory 59, Martin Ruter 5, Lewis Myers 2, and N. Bangs, P. P. Sandford and D. Ostrander 1 each. The number necessary to elect being 65, and no choice being made, a second ballot was taken with the following result: Joshua Soule received 65 votes; Elijah Hedding, 64; William Beauchamp, 62; John Emory, 58; L. Myers, 2; Martin Ruter, 2; John Hedding, 1. Joshua Soule having the requisite number of votes was therefore elected. No other choice being made, the Conference proceeded to ballot the third time for the second general superintendent. Previously to the third balloting, John Emory begged the Conference to accept his acknowledgment of the respectful notice taken of his name in the votes just cast, and requested that he might not be considered in nomination in the subsequent balloting. The Conference then proceeded to ballot for the third time. One hundred and twenty-eight votes were given, of which Elijah Hedding had 66; William Beauchamp, 60; J. Emory, 1; and blank, 1. Elijah Hedding was declared to be duly elected.
The representatives sent by the British Conference on behalf of Methodism in Great Britain, Richard Reece and John Hannah, were both requested to preach sermons before the General Conference during the session. This was accordingly done at the times arranged for, to the great satisfaction and edification of the Conference, which further requested copies of the same for publication, as also of Dr. Reece's address, as delegate.
For the New York Book Concern, Nathan Bangs was elected editor and general Book Steward, and John Emory was elected Assistant Book Agent. For the Western Book Concern, Martin Ruter was elected agent.
The Committee on the "Life of Bishop Asbury” reported, and it was ordered, That Dr. Samuel K. Jennings be respectfully requested to deliver the materials in his possession, together with the manuscripts of Bishop Asbury's Life as far as he has written it, into the hands of William Beauchamp, and that Brother Beauchamp make use of them, and all other materials within his reach, in the preparation of a Life of Bishop Asbury. Mr. Beauchamp died only a short time after the Conference adjourned, without having written the proposed Life. What became of the manuscripts of Mr. Jennings does not appear in the Journal.
The committee appointed for the purpose prepared an ad