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To these and as many more as desired to join with them (for their number increased daily) he gave those advices, from time to time, which he judged most needful for them; and they always concluded their meeting with prayer, suited to their several necessities.” This was the rise of the United Society in Europe. Such a society is no other than, “ a company of men having the form, and seeking the power of godliness, united in order to pray together, 10 receive the word of exhortation, and to watch over one another in love, that they may help each other to work out their salvation."
Philip Embury, a preacher from Ireland, began to preach in the city of New York, some time in the year 1766, and formed a society of his own countrymen and a few citi
In the same year Captain Thomas Webb preached in a hired room, near the barracks. About the same time Robert Strawbridge settled in Frederick county, state of Maryland, and formed some societies. Richard Boardman, and Joseph Pilmoor, came over from England, in 1769, to New York, in the character of missionaries; and toward the close of the year 1771, Francis Asbury and Richard Wright, came over also by the direction of Mr. Wesley, to assist the American Methodist preachers and societies.
At the close of the year 1784, the methodist societies, in these United States, were organized by a conference of preachers exclusively, nto what is called the Methodist Episcopal Church, and made independent of Mr. Wesley. The government was so framed by the conference, as to secure to the itinerant ministers, the unlimited exercise of the legislative, executive, and judicial powers of the church, to the entire exclusion of all other classes of ministers, and all the people. Subsequent general conferences exhibited marked dissatisfaction at the leading features of the government, and a very respectable minority struggled hard to effect some salutary improvements, but without producing any important changes. The opposition of the minority continued with unabating ardour, until the membership became more fully acquainted with the genius of the government, under which their spiritual guides had placed them, without their knowledge or consent. In 1820, a periodical was instituted, entitled the Wesleyan Repository, and was continued up to the sitting of the general conference of 1824. Numerous petitions were presented to that body, praying for a representation of ministers and layınen in the rule making department; but no change, either in the principle or in the practical operations of the government could be obtained.
Immediately after the rise of the general conference of 1824, a meeting, composed of some distinguished members of the conference, and of reformers from different parts of the United States, was held in this city, at which it was determined, to publish a periodical pamphlet, entitled, “ The Mutual Rights of the ministers and members of the Methodist Episcopal Church," "for the purpose of giving the Methodist community a suitable opportunity to enter upon a calm and dispassionate discussion of the subjects in dispute.” The meeting also determined to resolve itself into a Union Society; and recommended that similar societies be raised in all parts of the United States, “ in order to ascertain the number of persons in the Methodist E. Church, friendly to a change in her government.” This measure was followed by much persecution of reformers. In Tennessee, fourteen official members were expelled for attempting to form a Union Society.
Some time during the spring of the year 1826, the Baltimore Union Society recommend, cd state conventions to be held in the several states, for the exclusive purpose of making inquiry into the propriety of preparing one united petition to the approaching general conference of 1828, praying for REPRESENTATION; and to elect delegates to meet in a general convention for the purpose. Conventions were accordingly held, and delegates elected; in consequence of which, reformers, in different parts of the country, were made to feel the displeasure of men in power. In North Carolina, several members of the Granville Union Society were expelled for being members thereof. In the fall of 1827, eleven ministers were suspended, and finally expelled from the Methodist E. Church in this city, and twenty-two laymen, for being members of the union society, and supporters of the mutual rights. About fifty of the female friends of the suspended and expelled brethren immediately withdrew from the church, after addressing a letter to the preacher in charge, in which they say; "to find our dear compan. ions, fathers, brothers, children and friends, treated as criminals and enemies, persecuted suspended, and expelled; denounced as backsliders and disturbers of the peace, and ourselves treated coldly and distantly by our former friends, and by our pastors; and all for a were difference of opinion about church gooernment, is more than we feel bound in christian charity longer to endure; and, therefore, we feel it our duty, in the fear of God, to withdraw from the ch'irch.” The expelled brethren and their friends immediately organized under Mr. Wesleys' general rules, taking the title of, the Associated Methodist Reformers.
November, 1827, the general convention assembled in this city, composed of ministers and lay delegates, elected by the state conventions and union societies. This convention prepared a memorial to the general conference of May 1828, praying that the government of the church might be made representative, and more in accordance with the mutual rights of the ministers and people. To this memorial, the general conference replied, in a circular, by claiming for the itinerant ministers of their church, an exclusive divine right to the same unlimited and unamenable
which they had exercised over the whole church, from the establisiment of their government in 1784. Soon after the rise of the general conference, several reformers in Cincinnati, Lynchburg, and other places, were expelled for being members of union societies, and supporters of the mutual rights.