LIFE OF ALEXANDER KILHAIL.
THOUGH curious enough in some of its particulars, the life of ALEXANDER KILHAM differs but little in its general character from that of many other ministers who taught under %Raz whilst it falls short of some of the earlier disciples in raciness and breadth. Like numerous others in the Wesleyan connexion' KILMAN was born of religious parents ; but falling into worldly company in the heyday of youth, was enticed into the path of sinners. The effects of early education, however, inducing frequent compunctious visitings, caused a return to the fold; but the flesh and the Devil brought about a relapse, till a final revival was effected by means of a neighbour's dream: shortly after, the future evangelist was enabled to fix the moment of grace; which occurred at a meeting, and is thus described by himself— e I was so much condemned and accused by my conscience, that I thought myself the worst of sinners. My companions surrounded me, speaking of the wonderful dealings of God with their own souls ; and told me that the Lord would speedily deliver my soul, if I would return to him. I was mtonisheri to see the change that was in them ; my heart, or rather I may say the Spirit of God, smote me, and I could not refrain from weeping ; there were several others also in great distress, who appeared more affected than I was: when the meeting had continued about an hour, I could not help weeping aloud as well as they. Our friends prayed with us ; some of them exhorted us to believe hi the Lord Jesus Christ, while others were playing alone for our deliverance. I continued two or three hours weeping without comfort, finding myself so ex- ceedingly sinful : sometimes my heart was broker, down, so that tears flowed plentifully ; at other seasons I was so hard and stupid that I could not weep. After I had remained thus for three or four hours, I found a sudden change on my mind—I could not have wept if I might have had the world for it; but I found a great love to every one around me, and my heart was filled with so- speakable joy. I did not know what had passed in me, only that my heart was changed from mourning to rejoicing: my friends rejoiced over me, exhorting me to cast myself on the mercy of God ; they warned me of Satan's devices, assuring me that he would endeavour to ensnare me with doubts and fears. I returned to my father's house, where we rejoiced together for what God bad done for our souls, and endeavoured to persuade all we saw to seek the tame happiness ; for the change I found was attended with a desire that all might experience the same."
Animated by these new feelings, ALEXANDER KILHAM com- menced unconsciously graduating for the ministry, by attending prayer-meetings, and expounding and preaching when two or three were gathered together. His success in this limited field exciting attention, Mr. BRACKENBURY, a landed gentleman of large fortune, who officiated as an amateur circuit-preacher, en- gaged Mr. KILHAM to travel with him, and preach when he was indisposed. In what capacity he was engaged, is a matter of dis- pute; the old Wesleyans, after he separated from the connexion, atlirming that he was a " servant " to Mr.BRACKENBURY, and had
entered the ministry by the " back-door." However, after many wanderings with his employer, he was appointed to the ministry
by JOHN WESLEY. This was in 1785, when Mr. KILHAM was. three-and-twenty ; and he died in 1798, worn out by his exertions as a circuit-preacher, and latterly by the labours imposed upon him as one of the founders of a new connexion.
In the incidents and characteristic circumstances of his career, there is nothing worthy of long commemoration. It is as an un- flinching advocate of' religious liberty, lay as well as clerical, and as a prime cause of schism amongst the Wesleyans, that his claim to attention rests : but to understand these points fully, it will be necessary to take a general view of a very curious portion of mo- dern ecclesiastical history.
On a former occasion,* we pointed out the dead and worldly state of Christianity when WESLEY and WHITEFIELD sounded
the trumpet of " regeneration" and " justification by faith." But
though each of those great -men did much for the revival of vital religion, neither of them, any more than LUTHER, can lay claim
to the praise of a true and philosophical perception of Scripture,
at least in matters of discipline and church government. Both WHITEFIELD and WESLEY were ordained ministers of the Church of England, and animated its dead letter rather than departed from it. WHITEFIELD, indeed, so far deviated from the practice of the cloth, that he would hear any minister and preach from any pulpit ; but, indifferent to forms, and wanting in worldly policy, he continued to the last a curate of the Episcopal Church, with-
out seeking to raise up a sect of his own. The qualities which WHITEFIELD wanted were possessed in an eminent degree by
JOHN WESLEY; but his professional feelings in favour of the Established Church, which had ordained him, prevented him from founding a rival empire. He held, that without ordination, no one could administer the sacraments; he forbade meetings of his followers during church-hours ; recommended that the "Me- thodist preachers should go to Church, and take their people with them ;" and it was one of his last injunctions, prompted perhaps • Life of Whitelleld; Spectator, 25th November On. by individuals about him, never " to separate from the Church of land for if they did, they would " dwindle away into a drys
dull, separate party: But though he did not himself found an independent dominion, he erected an imperium in imperio of a Byre despotic kind than ever any Pope possessed ; and exhibited in its erection a cautious wisdom,—never attempting to create nor institutions, but merely to shape and fit them as the neces- sity which required produced them, with a tenacity of gripe in the retention of power such as none dared but a spiritual poten- tate, who could consider it us a " burden " which " the providence of Ged had cast upon him." The nature of this power, its character, extent, and growth, with the incidental origin and advance d IVesleyan Methodism, have been so distinctly told by Mr. Witst.sv himself, that it will be best to wive his own words. The document is a formal reply to some discontent which had been gradually springing up amongst the preachers at the power be possessed ; aggravated, perhaps, in the case of the majority, by a want of that ordination which he considered so important. " Count Zintendorf loved to keep all things close I love to do all things openly. I will therefore tell you all I know of the matter, taking it from the very beginning. " In November 1738, two or three persons who desired to ' flee from the wrath to come,' and then a few more, came to me in London, and desired me to advise and pray with them. I said, If you will meet me on Thursday night, I will help you as well as I can.' More and more then desired to meet with them, till they were increased to many hundreds. The case was after- wards the same at Bristol, Kingswood, Newcastle, and many other parts of England, Scotland, and Ireland. It may be observed. the desire was on their puts, not mine. My desire was to live and die in retirement. But I did not 'see that I could refuse them my help, and be guiltless before God.
" Here commenced my power,—namely, a power to appoint when and where and how they should meet ; and to remove those whose lives showed that they bad not a desire to flee from the wrath to come.' And this power remained the same, whether the people meeting together were twelve or twelve hundred or twelve thousand. " In a few days some of them said, Sir, we will not sit under you for no thing; we will subscribe quarterly.' I said, ' I will have nothing, for I want nothing. My Fellowship supplies me with all I want.' One replied, Nay, but you want a hundred and fifteen pounds to pay for the lease of the Foundery (a place to preach in) ; and likewise a large sum of money to put it into re- pair. On this consideration I suffered them to subscribe. And when the so- ciety met, I asked, Who will take the trouble of receiving this money, and ming it where it is needful ?' One said, I will do it, and keep the account for you.' So here was the first steward. Afterwarda, I desired one or two more to help me as stewards; rind, in process of time, a great number. "Let it be remarked, it sass I myself, not the people, who chose these stewards, and appointed to each she distinct work wherein he was to help me, as long as I desired. And herein I began to exercise another sort of power,— namely, that of appointing and removing stewards.
"After some time, a young man named Thomas Maxfield* came and desired to help me as a son in the Gospel. Soon after came a second, Thomas Richards; sod then a third, Thomas Westell. These severally desired to serve me as sons, and to labour when and where I should direct. Observe— these likewise de- sired me, not I them. But I durst not refuse their assistance. And here com- menced my power to appoint to each of these when and where and how to la.
hour,—that is, while he chose to continue with me. For each had a power to go away when he pleased ; as I had also to go away from them or any of them, if I saw sufficient cause. The case continued the same when the number of preachers increased. I had just the same power still to appoint when and where and how each should help me ; and to tell any, (if I saw cause,) ' I do not de- sire sour help any longer. On these terms, and no other, we joined at first : on time we continue joined. But they do me no favour in being directed by me. It is true, my ' reward is with the Lord ; ' but at present I have nothing from it but trouble and care ; and often a burden I scarce know how to bear. " In 1774, I wrote to:several clergymen, and to all who then served me as sons in the Gospel, desiring them to meet me in London, and to give me their advice concerning the best method of carrying on the work of God. And when their number increased, so that it was not convenient to invite them all, for several years I wrote to those with whom I desired to confer, and they only net me at -London or elsewhere ; till at length I gave a general permission, which I afterwards saw cause to retract.
" Observe—I myself sent for these, of my own free choice. And I sent for them to advise, not govern ore. Neither dill I at any time divest myself of any part of the power above described, which the providence of God had cast upon me; without any design or chance of mine.
"What is that power ? It is a power of admitting into and excluding from the societies under my care ; of choosing and removing stewards ; of receiving or nut receiving helpers ; of appointing them when, where, and how to help me, and of clearing any of them to confer with me when I see good. And as it was merely in obedience to the providence of God and fur the good of the people that I first accepted this power, which I never Fought, so it is on the same consideration, not for profit, honour, or pleasure, that I use it at this day. " day. ' several gentlemen are offended at your having ao much power.' I did not seek any part of it. But when it was come unawares, nut daring to ' bury that talent, I used it to the best of my judgment. Yet I never was fond of it. I always did, and do now, bear it as MY btlidell—the burden which God lays upon me, and therefore I dare not lay it down. " But if you can tell me any one, or any five men, to whom i may transfer this burden, who can and will do just what I do now, I will heartily thank both them and you. "But some of our helpers say, This is shackling free-born Englishmen ; ' and demand a free conference, that is, a meeting of all the preachers, wherein all things shall be determined by most votes. I answer, It is possible, after my chub, something of this kind may take place ; but not while I live. To me the preachers have engaged themselves to submit, to serve me as sons in the Lapel; but they are not thus engaged to any man or number of men besides. TO me the people in general will submit; but they will nut thus submit to any ot.
"It is nonsense, then, to call my using this power' shackling free-born Eng- lishmen.' None needs to submit to it unless he will ; so that there is no !hackling in the case. Every preacher and every member may leave me when he Pleases. But while he chooses to s
stay it is on the same terms that he joined me at first.
" But this is making yourself a Pope.' This carries no face of truth. The Pope affirms that every Christian must do all he bids and believe all he says, under pain of damnation. I never affirmed any thing that hears any the moat distant resemblance to this. All I affirm is, that the preachers who chose • It was withgreat reluctance that WESLEY admitted this lay preacher ; and only after consultutiou with Aim WESLEY, (his mother.) who assured him that MAX/3E1'9 s as rulkd. to labour with me, choose to serve me as sons in the Gospel. And the people who chose to be under my care, choose to be so on the same terms they were at first.
" Therefore all talk of this kind is highly injurious to me, who beat the bur- den merely for your sake. And it is exceedingly mischievous to the people, tending to confound their understanding and to fill their hearts with evil cur- misings and unkind tempers towards me ; to whom they really owe more for taking all this load upon me, for exercising this very power, for shackling my- self in this manner, than for all my preaching put together ; because preaching twice or thrice a day is no burden to me at all, but the care of all the preachers and all the people is a burden indeed."
This manifesto was published about two years before its author's death ; when Mr. WESLEY'S age and infirmities, with the know- ledge that a party amongst the preachers, called hi', Favourites and flatterers, and the body of the " people," would stand by their father in the gospel, induced the opposition to keep quiet, trusting that his "removal " would throw a greater share of power into their bands. But, in a certain sense, they reckoned without their host ; for at his death three parties developed themselves. 1. The " favourites and flatterers " of Mr. WESLEY, who were anxious to succeed to his power; and who covertly endeavoured to create a sort of priestly aristocracy amongst themselves, by drawing a distinction between ordained ministers and preachers, and sticking close to the Episcopal Church. 2. The preachers, who wished to share amongst the Conference — that is, amongst themselves — the power possessed by Mr. Westin', and to push it further than he intended, by alloi% ing every preacher to administer the sacra- ment, if requested by their congregations : many of this party also professed to desire, more or less, further administrative im- provements for the people, but not by the people. 3. A very few, of whom KILHAM was the boldest, the most active, and the most industrious, considered the power of the Conference too great, or at least that it was too priestly in its composition; and they wished to give the laity some control over the management of their affairs.
The primitive elements are very few : things differ in form rather than in essence; and it is curious to trace .n this ecclesiasti- cal struggle the counterpart of political contentions. The pure Wesleyane, or Tories, evidently feared and hated KILHAM,- hated him for his principles and the sturdiness with which he stuck to them—feared him for his courageous plain-speaking, his powers of sarcasm, and his means of doing " mischief" in the then state of opinion : the preaching Reformers, when striving for power, and as long as they thought they could use him for their purposes, constantly flattered him, and egged him on, but left him and their principles in the lurch when it came to a pinch : whilst the lay leaders, who really desired ends, shrunk from using the necessary means, and quietly submitted when their preachers banded together, as fearing "the people might make ill use of their power." In what manner all this was exhibited, may be read in the volume before us, with a full and sometimes a tedious minuteness; as well as how the quarrels of Mr. KILHAM with the Conference originated. There also may be read the beha- viour of that body upon his two trials ; the last of which ended immediately in his expulsion, and very shortly in the establish- ment of' a sect—the Methodist New Connexion—now numbering, it is said, 100,000 souls. The curious may trace, too, the sources of this separation, in the trimming conduct of the Conference on WESLEY'S death, respecting the sacrament ; neither of the two great parties standing to their own opinions, nor yielding to that of their adversaries, but adopting a juste-milieu course the first year, and even when the mischief was begun and the pressure from without rendered procrastination no longer possible, still shrinking from decision, and " committing the matter to God," or in other words casting lots.
" We accordingly prepared the lots, and four of us prayed. God was surely then present ; yea, his glory filled the room. Almost all the preachers were in tears ; and, as they after wards confessed, felt an unbounded assurance that God himself would decide. Mr. Adam Clarke was then called on to draw the lot ; which was, You shall not administer the sacrament the ensuing year.' All were satisfied. All submitted. All was peace. Every countenance seemed to testify that every heart said, It is the Lord, let him do what seemeth him good.' "
Referring to the volume for the particulars of all these points, we will take from it a few passages illustrative of the peculiar modes of the religionists of that age. For it must be remembered, that the novelty of the theme, the zeal and ignorance of many new converts, and the ridicule cast upon them by the light and worldly-minded, gave a race and richness to the language of Methodism, which exist no longer, at least to the same extent : the phrases which in comedies and Humphrey Clinker seem over- charged, were in reality the style of the time, or rather under it. Here is part of a letter from KILHAM'S old employer, Mr. BRACKENBURY : the Italics are in the original.
" My dear Brother in the Lord—Your favour was extremely welcome. Glad am I to bear of your soul's prosperity, and more especially of your providential appointment to labour in the vineyard ; not doubting but he that called you to the good work will supply you with all necessary qualifications. I rejoice to think you are called to labour in our circuit ; and humbly pray God to render your preaching and example a blessing to the people. You judge very right to set out on the principle of being a zealous preacher and lover of the truth;' and, as you request my advice, the following hints, which I have gathered from observation and experience, may not, with the blessing of God, be altogether useless. L Do not entertain any thoughts, unless necessity compel, you, of changing your state. Think it happiness enough to be espoused in the Lord Jesus Christ. Begin to think of loving the creature, and then all that Is burn- ing and shining in your character will presently be at an end. 2. Redeem the time by spending great part of it in private ; or, when you cannot have conve- nience of retirement, read and study, instead of talking familiarly with the people: don't mind if they think you reserved ; your example will speak louder and do them more good than religious gossiping, and your preaching will there.
by be more lively and powerful, as you will find more freedom and confidence towards God."
Notwithstanding this warning against " loving the creature," Mr. KILHAM turned his attention towards matrimony; when .another brother favoured him with this sketch of the requisite
POINTS IN A PREACHER'S WIFE.
I will now draw you a picture of a preacher's wife. 1. She must he a of solid piety ; or she will be a burden to her husband and a stumbling- J others. 2. She must be well established in the Methodist doctrine, aloes for our discipline; else there will be danger of her doing harm 1 the people. 3. She should be a woman of gifts as well as grace, able to 1 .each by the fireside and in the class, or by a sick-bed, as her husband is in the pulpit. 4. She should have a good natural disposition ; else, should she fall from grace, she will be a very devil. 5. She must be of a free, open spirit ; if not, the people will dislike her, and perhaps the husband too for her Bake; yet she must be able to keep a secret, and not ehow too meat freedom with the other sex. 6. She must be of a meek spirit, to bear contradictions, which she must expect to meet with. 7. Of a bumble spirit ; or she will take too touch on bertelf. 8. Possessed of Christian fortitude, or she will sink under tile's. 9. Zealous and active, that she may be useful wherever she goes. 10. Gene- rous, without prodigality. 11. Notable and frugal, without covetousness. 12. Cleanly, both in her house and apparel. 13. Exceedingly exemplary in her dress, not using gaudy nor costly apparel ; if she does, her husband need never say one word against dress, as it will be all lost labour. 14. Fully reconciled to a travelling life ; or she will be perpetually teasing her husband to settle, and never let him rest till be yields to her entreaties. 15. It would be well if she had a good constitution, that the husband may not be hindered in the business of the circuit by nursing his sick wife. 16. If to all these good properties she have as much fortune as will maintain herself, her husband, and children, if need be, she will be noworse, but better. I hope you will be cautious how you take such a step: much player, with fasting and perfect resignation to the will of God, is necessary in such an important affair."
The odium theologicum has a proverbial antiquity of many ages ; and certainly divines sometimes call very hard names in the most endearing; manner, and sometimes in plain language. We give an example of the quiet mode, from the pamphlet for which Mr. KILHAM was first tried.
GIBING ONE'S FRIENDS.
" It is more honourable to attend service at the Church, than to worship among the Dissenters; it takes away a good deal of the scandal of the cross; it may be advantageous to our business in the world ; it may bring us to fill up .places in the 'tattoo, which may be greatly helpful to our families, that we could not occupy were we Dissenter, of any denomination. Our being connected so closely with the Church cannot he looked on in any other light than a species of trimming between God and the world. We never met with any arguments for continuing closely united with the Church, but what are political,—or, in other words, carnal, and sold under sin."
After KILHAM quitted the old connexion and set up a new one, no measures were kept. He was accused of breaking his first wife's heart by his sinful conduct towards the Conference, and of poisoning the principles of his second : that pious body, in an address to the Irish Wesleyans, represented him and his followers "as turbulent disturbers of our Zion, who have embraced the sen- timents of Paine, and place a great part of their religion in con- tending fur (what they call) liberty ; " and it was generally spread about, (for it was the period of loyalty and life; and-fortune men,) that Mr. KILHAM had publicly wished "damnation to all crowned heads." Some stronger terms of reprobation shall be stated by himself, in a defence written but never published- " When I first wrote against the abuses and corruptions of the Methodist connexion, some of my friends imagined I should receive the thanks of the Conference, and every thing be set right at once; but I had read ecclesiastical history, and a different prospect opened to my view. Since the conflict began, I have been represented as weak and insane, as mail, us possessed of the Devil, as given up to a reprobate mind, as the greatest deceiver and hypocrite upon the face of the earth, as the Man of Sin which the Scriptures mention, as a Devil with a Bible under my arm, yea as worse than the Devil. In a dis- course delivered about a week ago, the travelling preacher confessed one article of his faith to be this—' 1 believe Mr. Kilhant is that man, that he would prefer a high place in hell before a low place in heaven.' These, and a thousand other things, have been said of me by the preachers, and those who are subject to them in all things ; many pray, and expect to be answered, that God would .hasten my destruction. They quote this passage to justify their conduct—' 1 would to God that they were cut off who trouble you.' If I had lived at the dawn of the Iseformation, such declarations, from persons so exalted in profes- !ion, might have alarmed my poor conscience. But at present my heart re- joices in being counted worthy to suffer fur the sake of Christ and his religion. I believe priestcraft, branched out into the different nations, and prevailing in almost every country, if not in every sect and party, is the greatest curse that ever God Almighty suffered to befall his creatures; and until it is removed, the nations will groan, being oppressed. Could I give a deadly blow to one hair of this seven-headed monster, I should think it amply rewarded all my sufferings. If I could live to the age of Methusalem, and be fed every day with the bread and water of affliction, I should exceedingly rejoice if I could, in all those years, be instrumental in banishing this evil from the face of the earth."
As a bold contender for that freedom in religious matters, which, though claimed by all churches for themselves, is never conceded to those who differ from them, ALEXANDER KILHAM is entitled to praise. Yet the motives of men rarely bear a very close ana- lysis : it is probable that his zeal fur the laity, and his opposition to all human modes of church regulation, were stimulated by the impossibility of his attaining any distinction in, or even entering the Establishment. In consequence of one of the many oppo- sitions to their preaching encountered by the Methodists of his day, he was compelled to take out a licence from the Sessions ; and his opponent, a clerical Magistrate, having vainly tried to prevent its being granted, put the question, do you apply for it as a Churchman or as a Dissenter? and, the law only granting it to the latter class, KILHAM was obliged to swear to his dissent. His temper, none of the tamest or humblest in public matters, might also have something to do with his exertions : nor can it be denied that he provoked the Conference, or at least some of its members, by charges and language which, however true, were not the most agreeable. His biographer excuses his sarcasms and doubt it—there is an unction about them, not
personalities, as being the suggestions of other people :but we produced by second- hand inspiration.