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policy abroad than at-home. “If peace is guaranteed at-home, it is equally so abroad. Foreign powers respect our independence; and we have every in. terest in preserving the most amicable relations with them." The President next alluded to the rumour very generally circulated, and as generally be lieved, that the Republic was destined in the end to become an Empire, and the President an Emperor. All personal anxieties and aspirations in that direc tion were disclaimed. Opportunities had been possessed to have given that turn to events, if desired. “Neither means nor opportunities," said the President, “have been wanting to me." The fur. ther surmised step, it was added, would not be taken unless the state of parties and the good of tbe nation required it. “Let us," concluded Napoleon, “main. tain the Republic; it menaces pobody, and may reassure everybody."

Notwithstanding the President's professions to the contrary, however, present appesrances are indicative of imperial intentions. Latterly, Governmental organs have made no secret of such pur poses. Ina recent number of the Bulletin de Paris, whose director is in official service, the subject is thus adverted to :-" The Empire, with peace, is, in fact, the noblest, the grandest, the most useful Government that France can possess. It is the Government of which even now she has the half, and the entire of which she will certainly have within a period we may calculate with out arithmetically fixing it. We have been in expectation of it since the 10th Dec. 1848 ; it will come, whatever the cause of its arrival.”

Since their inauguration to office, the Senate and legislative bodies have not found much work to do. The Presi. dent's decrees, passed since the 20th of Dec. have related to and altered every institution of importance in the land: the press and property, the administra. tion of justice and the regulation of publie instruction, with other material matters, have felt the uplifted, and, it is to be feared, the one-sided stroke of the President. Two subjects, however, have come before these newly-formed bodies: first, whether the dress prescribed by the President for their members should be worn on ordinary or only on holiday and festive occasions; and, secondly, how much of public money should be annually given to their popular Chief. The first was decided in favour of the holiday view, rather against the Chief's desire; the other was favourably and liberally considered to meet the Chief's

need. The President is to receive from the 1st of January 12,000,000 francs (£400,000) per ann., or £1,123 53. 9d. per day, with the national palaces, gardens, &c., for his habitation and use, and the exclusive right of shooting and hunting in the woods of Versailles, and in the forests of Fontainebleau, Compiègne, Marly, and St. Germain."

It is our painful duty to record another of those sudden and serious accidents which latterly have astounded every ear and touched every heart. The Birkenhead, a large and powerful iron steamer in her Majesty's service, left Plymouth on the day, it is stated, that the unfortunate Amazon left Southamp. ton, and Cork on the 7th of January, with reinforcements for the Kafir war, After a prosperous voyage, she put in at Simon's Bay on the 24th of February, leaving an officer and eighteen men at that port. On the evening following she left for Algoa Bay and the Buffalo River, Captain Salmond keeping her, to save time and shorten the voyage, near the coast. At two o'clock, on the morning of the 26th, the vessel ran into a reef of rocks. In seventeen or twenty minutes after the foul and fatal blow, the Birken. head broke in two abaft the engine. room, when the stern part instantly filled and sunk. Everything which the cool calculation and rigid discipline of a soldier and sailor could devise and do was devised and done to save the wreck and the wrecked. But neither Danger's dark cloud could be dispelled, nor Death's fierce month closed. Out of 638, the total number on board, only 184 were saved ; 454 were lost! Of the 184 saved, several were taken up from floating pieces of timber, others were drifted ashore; but many in similar circumstances were in all probability destroyed by sharks, which thronged the place in shoals. Five of the horses thrown overboard found their way to land, and were taken up in safety.

There is a moral illustrated in this sad disaster. The nearest way to a given end is not always the best. To gain a good point we are sometimes required to take a long round. From Egypt to Canaan there was a near and distant road. God ordered the Israelites to go the longest, because for them, in their circumstances, it was the safest way. (Exodus xiii, 17.) Had Captain Salmond practised, as he must have understood this maxim, the Birkenhead, her crew and captain, had not met their melan. choly end.

April 22nd, 1852.

THE METHODIST NEW CONNEXION MAGAZINE.

JUNE, 1852.

DISCOURSES, ESSAYS, &c.

CLASS MEETINGS, THEIR SCRIPTURAL CHARACTER

AND IMPORTANCE.

BY THE Rev. H. O. Crofts, D.D. COMMUNION with saints is an article in the creed of all evangelical Churches ; but in some evangelical Churches there is not a regular and frequent interchange of views and feelings on the subject of religious experience. There is, to our mind, a strange inconsistency between the term “ Church fellowship,” and yet no established means for the enjoy. ment of what the term imports. We have communion with Christ in the Lord's Supper ; but we have little or no communion with each other. In many Churches, with the exception of the minister, no one speaks at the table of the Lord ; and in those Churches where the members do speak at this means of grace, not more than half-a-dozen can speak of " the deep things of God,” though there may be forty, fifty, a hundred, or more assembled. Certainly this cannot be called “communion with saints." The Lord's Supper is never called in the Scriptures "communion with saints." It is distinctly said in reference to the Lord's Supper, “ The cup of blessing which we bless, is it not the communion of the blood of Christ? The bread which we break, is it not the communion of the body of Christ ?" By drinking of the wine and eating of the bread at the Lord's table in commemoration of the death of Christ, we are partakers of the Lord's table, and are united to Christ and to each other : “ For we, being many, are one bread and one body; for we are all partakers of that one bread." The first Christians “ continued stedfastly in the apostle's doctrine and fellowship, and in breaking of bread, and in prayers.” Now we conceive that “doctrine," “ fellowship," “ breaking of bread," and "prayers" do not all mean one and the same thing. Nor can we suppose that taking the Lord's Supper together, in remembrance of Christ's death, is “communion with saints."

Nor can we call the “ communion of saints” the giving a narration of our conversion to God, whether in writing or by speech, to the Church with which we are identified, at the time of our uniting therewith; for if we never more tell the saints what God is doing for our souls, there can be no proper fellowship between us and them." Communion with saints” is a regular, constant interchange of our experience in divine things, accompanied with those words and acts which will have a tendency to increase our love to God and to each other; therefore, means must be instituted for the bringing of the saints together, that they may have the opportunity of speaking often one to another of what God has done

for their souls. There must be a free and frequent communication of our thoughts and feelings on religious things, or there can be no “communion with saints”-no real fellowship between the members of the same Church. Among the Vethodists there is no lack of means to secure this desirable object. Our quarterly love-feasts, our monthly fellowship-meetings, our weekly class-meetings, and our occasional bandmeetings, afford ample opportunities for “ communion with saints;" and in proportion as these means are prized and attended, or despised and neglected, does the work of God prosper or decline among us.

Class-meetings are admirably adapted to promote and secure " communion with saints.” Blackwell, in his “Methodist Class-leader," justly says, “ It is also worthy of remark, that almost every duty enforced upon believers in the New Testament goes on the principle that they have 'fellowship one with another.' For instance, when they are directed to · bear one another's burdens,' to 'support the weak,' and to 'comfort the feeble-minded;' when they that are spiritual' are to endeavour to 'restore such an one as is overtaken in a fault;' when the aged women' are to give advice to those that are younger; when professors are to 'exhort one another daily, lest any of thein should be hardened through the deceitfulness of sin ;' and when the brethren are encouraged to seek after one who has 'erred from the truth,' that he may be converted and brought back to God his Saviour—we would ask, How it can be possible to comply with all these requisitions (and they are given to be complied with), as well as many more of a similar nature, except means be instituted whereby Christians can obtain some knowledge of each other's experience and spiritual condition ? How, for example, can anyone help to bear my burden, whether it be temptation, persecution, or any other trial, if he knows nothing about it? And how can he ascertain my state but by our having intercourse on spiritual subjects? And what opportunities are so adapted to this purpose as those entitled class-meetings ?”.

Class-meetings were evidently instituted under the direction of the providence of God. They formed no part of original Methodism. They never entered the mind of Wesley until they were forced upon his attention by unlooked-for circumstances. They were begun as follows: “Some debts had been contracted by the saciety at Bristol (for there were Methodist societies before there were class-meetings), and Mr. Wesley was talking with the friends as to the means of paving them off, when,' to use his own words, ‘one stood up, and said, "Let every member of the society give a penny a week till all is paid.' Another answered, · But many are poor, and cannot afford to do it. Then,'said he, ‘put eleven of the poorest to me; if they can give anything, well : I will call on them weekly; and if they can give nothing, I will give for them as well as for myself; and each of you call on eleven of your neighbours weekly, receive what they give, and make up what is wanting.' This was done,' says Wesley. In a while some of them informed me they found such and such a one did not live as he ought. It struck me immediately – This is the very thing we have wanted so long.' He then desired each to make a particular inquiry into the behaviour of those he saw weekly. They did so ; and thus the class-meetings commenced. Therefore, what in the beginning was intended to extricate the societies out of temporal embarrassment merely, introduced a means for promoting the eternal

welfare of thousands. At first, each leader went round to see his members weekly. This was found inconvenient in many respects, and a time and place were appointed for them to assemble together. Two or three little alterations, which it is not necessary to notice particularly, took place in class-meetings before they were reduced to the precise form in which they have existed for years."*

In a class-meeting, a number of God's people, varying from ten to thirty or more, assemble to narrate their Christian experience, and to receive suitable spiritual advice from a competent person. There is nothing at all in these means of grace like a Popish confessional. The leaders are chiefly men and women chosen from among the people ; the Methodist ministers meet only a class or two each weekly; they visit the others only once in a quarter of a year. The great bulk of the leaders are intelligent and pious laymen, or intelligent and pious women, who, without any impropriety, may thus “labour much in the Lord," and be “helpers in Christ Jesus.” No family secrets are ivquired into, nor are any permitted to be divulged, in a Methodist class-meeting. No efforts are put forth to prostrate intellect, and to bring the souls of men under priestly domination. The great object of Methodist class-meetings is to promote “pure and undefiled religion.” We meet in them for spiritual conversation, for prayer and praise. The topics for conversation are the goodness of God, the love of Christ, the gracious operations of the Spirit. We converse also about our spiritual foes, their assaults, and the blessed deliverances which divine goodness has effected on our behalf. Nor do we leave out of our conversations our hopes and fears, our joys and sorrows, which as Christians we feel in our pathway to heaven; and we speak “one by one, that all may learn and all may be comforted." In a class-meeting, care is taken to “let all things be done unto edifying;" and the leaders speak to their members “ to edification, and exhortation, and comfort." Is there anything in all this that savours of the stench of a Popish confessional ? Verily not. Is there anything improper in the purpose for which class-meetings are held ? Is there anything contrary to the Word of God? In short, can any man say that such means of grace are not needed to help us to battle with our foes, to keep our hearts alive to God in this cold world, and to keep us one in Christ Jesus who have so many things to grapple with that have a tendency to destroy our love to the saints?

Class-meetings are sanctioned by the Word of God. Some say, “ Class-meetings are never mentioned in the Word of God." That they are not spoken of in the Scriptures by name we readily allow; but the thing is spoken of and highly commended. In the Scriptures nothing is said expressly about females partaking of the Lord's Supper; but it would be exceedingly wrong to keep them from commemorating the death of their Lord on this ground; since we find it written: “ There is neither Jew nor Greck, there is neither bond nor free, there is neither male nor female ; for ye are all one in Christ Jesus." Then, again, nothing is said expressly about prayer-meetings in the Scriptures; but we read that the first Christians continued stedfastly... in prayers." "These all continued with one accord in prayer and supplication.” Now although the phrase "prayer-meetings” never occurs in the Bible, yet

* Blackwell's " Methodist Class-leader.”

what is meant by the phrase is clearly set forth in the Scriptures; and therefore we might just as well refuse to attend praser-meetings, and say they are uuscriptural because they are not mentioned by name in the Bible, as to condemn class-meetings on the same ground. The mere name is nothing; the thing is what we contend for. That the Scriptures sanction the holding of meetings for conversing about spiritual things is evident from several statements of the Word of God. Means of grace which now bear that name among the Methodists, were, we think, in existence in the time of David ; for in Psalm lxvi. he says: Come and hear, all ye that fear God, and I will declare what he has done for my soul." In Malachi ji. we have a passage which more deci. sively shows that meetings existed in the ancient Jewish Church for religious conversation : “ Then they that feared the Lord spake often one to another; and the Lord hearkened and heard it, and a book of remembrance was written before him for them that feared the Lord and thought upon his name. And they shall be mine, saith the Lord of Hosts, in that day when I make up my jewels : and I will spare them, as a man spareth his own son that serveth him." These pious men must have spoken to each other of the things of God, and of the things which made for their peace; or the Lord of Hosts would not have marked their conduct with his high approbation. God cannot be pleased with those who profess his name, who are incessantly talking to each other about the weather, or trade, or politics, or scandal; but who speak not of the glory of his kingdom," and talk not “of his power." The pious in the days of Malachi must have met together for religious conversation, and must have spoken often one to another about spiritual and eternal things, or God would never have recorded their conduct in the book of his remembrance, as being worthy of reward in the great day of account. The conduct of the pious in the days of Malachi is recorded for our learning. They are held up as men whom we ought to “observe and imitate; and the commendation passed upon their conduct is equal to an injunction upon us to do likewise." In Hebrews x. we have a positive injunction which, we think, can never be obeyed unless we attend class-meetings, or means for spiritual conversation : “And let us consider one another, to provoke unto love and to good works. Not forsaking the assembling of ourselves together, as the manner of some is; but exhorting one another, and so much the more, as ye see the day approaching." The former part of this passage is paraphrased by a very judicious commentator thus: “Let us diligently and attentirely consider each other's trials, difficulties and weaknesses; feel for each other, and excite each other to an increase of love to God and man; and, as the proof of it, to be fruitful in good works. The words elç rapočvouov, to the provocation, are often taken in a good sense, and signify excitement, stirring-up to do anything laudable, useful, honourable, or necessary.” But there can be no diligent and attentive consideration of each other's trials, difficulties, and weaknesses, unless we have frequent intercourse with each other. We cannot feel for each other as Christians ought to feel, if we have no meetings for the purpose of getting to know each other's spiritual condition; consequently there will be little or no mutual provocation to love and good works. Where class-meetings are not in existence, or where they are neglected, as is the custom in some places where they are established, the members of the Churches know little of each other; and

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