Two Calvinistic Methodist Chapels, 1743-1811: The London Tabernacle and Spa Fields Chapel. Originally published by London Record Society, London, 1975.
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88. [p.46] Att an association at Bristol, January 27 1747 (fn. 1)
Present: Brother Harris
Gibbs candidates to be examined
We read a letter from Brother Jenkins, Brother Stephens and Brother Baldwin.
We spoke to each other about our saviour's godhead and how 'tis the eternal word became flesh, and by vertue of the one in the godhead the father and spirit by being one with the word is in that man revealed to sinners, and to be preached as [p.47] misterious and misterious [sic] one which can't be explained by anything in nature, but to be received by faith as it is revealed in the scripture, and when we insist on the threeness not to darken the oneness, and when on the oneness not to darken the doctrine of the threeness.
We discoursed on having a true catholick spirit indeed towards all denominations and every branch of the reformation.
Brother Harris gave an exhortation about becoming nothing before the lord, giving up all our wills, wisdom, etc. to him, and about acknowledging the lord indeed God over all our looks, words, behaviour, temper, so as to be patterns of diligence in improving time and seriousness and all divine tempers.
We also spoke of the 3 various lights—the light of nature improved by means, the supernatural light of the spirit or prophetic light as Ballaam's was, and the saving, transforming views of faith.
89. We then spoke to Brother Wilkins about his call to labour and what sphere of action he seems to be called to and fitted for, and it was in the mind of the brethren that he should follow his occupation and discourse only to a few souls in [p.48] private, being not satisfyed of his call to be a publick preacher.
We spoke Brother Gibbs about his call to the knowledge of our saviour and about his call to the ministry and his reasons for joining with us, not with any other particular branch of our saviour's work, and he gave an account and the brethren were satisfyed and received him to connexion after we heard him preach to our satisfaction at the hall.
We opened our hearts one to the other about our unfaithfullness to each other and our deviation from the law of perfect love to each other, and profess to strive in our saviour's strength to aim at loving each other like ourselves, and to shew this in all our behaviour towards each other.
90. Agreed that Brother Adams go next week to London and stay there till Brother James Relly comes up to release him against March 20, and then through Portsmouth to Exeter against April 1, and return to Bristol against May 1 and come thence to association.
That Brother James Relly go now to Wales [p.49] and come to London against March 20, and stay there till the association.
That Brother Harris go to Wales till association.
That Brother Beaumont go now home and visit about there, and then go to Bath about his health, etc., and then go through Gloucestershire, Wiltshire and the north till association.
That Brother Smith go now to the west and stay till March 1, thence to Portsmouth and stay there a week, thence by London to Essex against March 10 and stay there 9 days and visit Chatham, and thence to Oulney by March 25 to stay there 9 days, and go thence by Birmingham, Brood, Salop, Ludlow, Leominster, Herefordshire and Tewksbury against association.
That Brother Jenkins stay at Bristol till February 22 and then go through Gloucestershire by Hampton, Gloucester, Tewksbury, Hereford, Leominster, Ludlow, Shrewsbury, Brood, Birmingham, etc. against April 1, and then to Oulney for a fortnight, and thence to Chinner, Oxford and so to Wiltshire and stay there till the association.
That Brother Stephens go against February 6 to Essex for nine days, thence to Chatham against 17, thence to Oulney against the 20 and stay there a fortnight, and so to Chinner against March 6 and stay there and at Oxford till 14, thence to Bristol [p.52] (fn. 2) through Gloucestershire against 25th and stay there till April 15, and thence to Herefordshire and Shropshire till the association.
That Brother Humphries go now with Brother Gibbs to Wiltshire, and return to Gloucestershire and visit Gloucester, Tewksbury and all the places in Gloucestershire, and Bath too, against February 21, then to Bristol for a fortnight against March 6 after Brother Relly and stay till 25, and then visit Gloucestershire and Wiltshire till the association.
91. That Brother Gibbs go to Wiltshire and Gloucestershire and thence to the west to release Brother Smith against March 1, and then visit all the places in the west till April 1, and then follow his trade and preach occasionally till the association.
That Brother John Relly go to London and thence to Oulney against February 7, thence to Chinner against 16th and so through Oxford and Gloucestershire to Bristol against February 21 and stay there two weeks, and then go to the west against March 6 and stay till April 1, and then to Bristol till 15 and stay till May 1, then to Gloucestershire and Wiltshire till association.
[p.53] That Brother Ingram go to the north till February 25 and then to London and Essex against March 1 and Chatham for 3 weeks after Brother Stephens, and so to Oulney against 25th and thence to Chinner against April 12, and thence to London and Portsmouth till the association.
That Brother Godwin go now to Oxfordshire, thence to Oulney by February 3 and stay there till the 10, and thence to Portsmouth against 13 and stay there a week, and be at Essex by 22 and stay there 9 days and be at Chatham by March 4, and return through Oxfordshire and Wiltshire and so to Portsmouth by April 3, and then about London till the association.
That our next association be at Morton hill farm on Wednesday, May 18 1748.
92. [p.54] At an association held at Hill Farm, Gloucestershire, May 18 1748 (fn. 3)
Present: Mr Howel Harris
Absent: Brother James Relly
Agreed after reading a letter from Brother Cennick about Kingswood school that Mrs Charles, who [p.55] gave £50 towards the building of it, should be spoke unto wither she gave it to the Methodists or to Mr Cennick in particular. The stewards and people at Kingswood should be spoken to, wither able to retrieve it by paying Brother Cennick. Otherwise if Mr Cennick, etc. have it, as most part of the people adhere to us, that he should be writt unto that we preach there upon condition that we pay him the interest of his money till Mr Whitefield comes, and if he does not agree to this that we should agree to his proposal.
That as the brethren are not free Brother James Tomkins, who proposed now to join us, should [not] be received into connexion with us, at least not till next association, but go on as before to work at his business and preach occasionally.
That Brother Henery Hall, after we examined him about his grace and call to preach, should go on to exercise his gifts as before in a private capacity till the association on tryal.
That none of the brethren shall print anything without bringing it before the association from henceforward.
That as Brother Gibbs thinks it his duty to join the baptists, he may not preach in our societies, as it may be a means of bringing some confusions among the people, and [p.56] that Brother Harris or Adams write a letter to him, and to Brother Kinsman to the society at Plymouth of our mind how to act. (fn. 4)
93. Whereas Brother Jenkins has in heart and light been alienated from the brethren and has weakned their hands for some years several ways, and the brethren have found an alienating, strange spirit come on the people where he has been, and as he has severall years to think about the matter, either of leaving us or joining us wholly, and has now for some time been determined to leave us, and whereas he himself wrote his mind to Brother Whitefield and he again sent an answer to him and to Brother Harris, in both which he neither desired him to stay nor the brethren to let him stay (since his light was changed) till he came, but on the contrary desired him to come over to him to America, telling him travelling would do him good before he setled and make him more capable of serving Christ's church, and if he should setle in England on the independent plan, his sphere would be much confined, and too wide a breach (fn. 5) made between him and some of his old friends, and also whereas we are of the established church and have and do declare ourselves to be so, and he has wholly left it; we [p.57] agreed, after speaking over and over again to him the first evening, to endeavour to perswade him that it might be a temptation from the enemy to draw him from a work where he had been blessed, and to show our hearty love to him and willingness to receive him we deffered setling the matter till the next morning—in the mean time giving up ourselves wholly to prayer. And the next morning the question (upon the mutuall agreement of all the brethren it should be so) being put to him—Wither he was fully perswaded in his mind it was his duty to leave us when Mr Whitefield comes? If so we thought the sooner the better and his staying amongst us longer in that light would but breed more division and confusion among the people when he was not one of us nor faithful to us as a fellow labourer, and we also proposed—if he was in doubt and desired to stay till Brother Whitefield came, to see if he could satisfy his doubts, we were free to bear with him and to let him go on as before. And on his answering, he was determined to go away and was unshaken in his mind, we agreed all to part amicably and lovingly, hoping (though we were afraid it was a temptation) the Lord might call him to another plan as he called Peter to the circumcision and Paul to the uncircumcision. Withall declaring that we loved him the very same as a brother and a labourer in another branch of the vynyard, and would behave accordingly [p.58] to him; and whilst he had the Lord with him and preached Christ crucifyed and would not breed division among the people whenever he came occasionally, that we were free he should preach among them when he and the people desired it; and this minute was read before him and he agreed to it, only saying we should add that the brethren did also weaken his hands. (fn. 6)
94. That as Brother Ward had prejudice to some of the brethren and had dropt some words in some places that were like to cause divisions, and on his being reproved he was humbled and own[ed] his fault and that he would endeavour to observe his place and walk humbly and in love with all the brethren, we were satisfyed. And as the society in Wednesbury did not receive the sacrament any where and did meet in time of divine service, which is contrary to our conduct, we agreed to propose to them if they will be under our care, that they would not meet in time of divine service and that they should also receive the sacrament either in church or meeting, as it may otherwise much hurt the cause.
That as Brother Ingram laid before the brethren the affair of his marriage with Sister N. Thomas [p.59] from Wales, the brethren had no objection to it as her mother consents, only desired them to wait some time.
A letter was wrote to Brother Edwards and brethren in the name of the association in answer to theirs.
95. Agreed that Brother Ingram go directly to Salop, Ludlow, Radnorshire, Herefordshire, etc. and be at Bath against June 2, and come thence to London directly and be there setled by Brother Harris till the association.
That Brother Harris go to London against Whitsunday and stay there and the places about there till association.
That Brother Beaumont go to Bristol against next Sunday and then to Bath, and return to Bristol against Whitsunday, and thence to Bath, to Wales and so to London to association.
That Brother Adams go against Whitsunday to Portsmouth and stay a fortnight, and return through Wiltshire to Gloucestershire against June 23, and thence through Herefordshire and north against association.
That Brother Humphries go against Monday night to Bristol and against Wednesday to near Bridgewater and stay there till over the following Sunday, and then to the west and so through Somersetshire till the association.
That Brother James Relly go to Wales now and return to Bristol against July 9th, and come thence to association.
[p.60] That Brother Vines go next Whitsunday to Wiltshire and the Tuesday evening to Bristol and stay there till June 14, and then come back to Gloucestershire and Wiltshire till association.
That Brother Smith go against Whitsunday to Tewksbury and Gloucester and thence to Wiltshire and Gloucestershire for a fortnight, and then to Bristol to release Brother Vines against June 15 and stay, and at Bath to the 29, and then through Herefordshire, etc. to London to association.
That Brother Godwin go as soon as he has printed his book to the north, and through Herefordshire and Radnorshire to Gloucestershire and Wiltshire to the association.
That Brother James Relly be spoken to about his round by Brother Harris if he is free to go to the west and Bristol, etc.
That Brother Hogg go to Bristol against July 2, and stay there over Wednesday night.
That Brother Stephens be settled in the places about London by Brother Harris.
That our next association be kept at London July 20.
96. [p.61] At an association held at London, 20 July 1748
After prayer and singing, Mr Whitefield, after opening his mind of general views in coming over now, declared as he can't as yet know how to act for several reasons which he gave, till he shall look about him and hear from all quarters—and as he had seen so much confusion by young mens going rashly out beyond their line, he was determined not to labour with any that would not shew [p.62] a teachable mind and willingness to submitt to use all means for improving all their talents and abilities, though he hated to affect to be head, etc. Yet he must see everyone acquainted with their own places and to look on themselves as candidates or probationers. And each of the brethren answered and declared their willingness to submitt to use all means for improvement, etc.—having been before convinced of the absolute necessity of it, and look on themselves as helps and on him as a father.
97. Agreed that Brother Harris go to Wales till association.
That Brother Adams stay here in London till Mr Whitefield returns here from Wales (fn. 7) to release him. Then for him to go by Portsmouth to the west till the association.
That Brother Relly go now to the west till he is called up by Mr Whitefield to London and stay there till the association.
That Brother Smith go to Chatham against this following Sunday and stay there over the following Sunday, and then return by London and go to Essex against Sunday August 7th, stay there over [p.63] two Sundays to August 15th and then return to London, and go to Oulney against August the 21st—and go to all the places there abouts for a fortnight till September 1st. And then go thence to Chinner for some days and go thence to Portsmouth against September 10th and stay there till September 20th, and go thence by Bristol to the association.
That Brother Ingram go now to Essex against this Sunday and stay there till August 3, and go thence by London to Oulney against Sunday August 7 and stay there over the following Sunday till August the 16th, and go thence by Chinner to Wiltshire and Gloucestershire to Birmingham, Ludlow, etc.—through Herefordshire to the association.
That Brother Beaumont visit Herefordshire, Gloucestershire and Radnorshire and Salop. (fn. 8)
That Brother Stephens assist Brother Adams in London and visit Chinner now for near a month and then go to Bristol against August 21 and stay there a month till September 19th, and then be farther ordered by Mr Whitefield till the association.
That Brother Humphreys be spoken to by Brother Relly to come to Bristol against August 7th and stay a fortnight, except Mr Whitefield orders otherwise, and come thence to Wiltshire and Gloucestershire for a fortnight, then go to the west again against Brother Relly comes away, and stay there till Brother Adams comes there, and then to come to Bristol, etc. till the association.
[p.64] That Brother Godwin be spoken to go to Herefordshire and Staffordshire and come through Gloucestershire to Wiltshire, and be farther directed by Mr Whitefield.
That Brother Baldwin follow his business and exhort in private as before.
That Brother Meredith go to Chatham against August 7 and stay there for 2 Sundays, and go thence to Essex and continue [deleted].
98. That the private society be kept at the Tabernacle on Tuesday evening and no preaching on Wednesday evening nor Friday evening. (fn. 9)
That our next association be kept at Abergavenny October 9th 1748.
That Brother Edwards, if able, let him visit Portsmouth and Wiltshire or Chatham or Essex or Oulney.
That Brother Meredith go now to Wiltshire and Gloucestershire against August 12 and stay there 20 August, and go to Chatham against August 28th and stay there over two Sundays, and go thence to Essex against September 11 and stay there 9 days, and come through London to go to Oulney against September 25th and stay there till October 4th, and go thence to Chinner against October 8th, (fn. 10) and if he is not to come to the association to go thence to Chatham and Essex. (fn. 11)
That all the brethren bring in the money to the next association toward the weekly hystory. (fn. 12)
99. Mr Whitefield not being able to come to Abergavenny the time mentioned above, we brethren did not meet till January 26 at Gloucester 1748/9. [pp. 65-6 blank]
100. [p.67] London, April 27th 1749
Present: the Revd Mr Whitefield
Mr Howell Harris
Mr Thomas Adams
Mr James Relley
Mr James Ingram
Absent: Brother Stephens
Agreed that Mr Whitefield, Harris, Adams and Relley continue in connection.
That Mr Harris will take the oversight of the Tabernacle and other English societies and preachers.
And that Mr Whitefield will do all he can to strength his and their hands, consistent with his going about preaching the gospel either at home or abroad. (fn. 13)
Agreed that all the absent brethren in connection should meet on Wednesday May 31 at Abergavenny to settle matters.
101. That Brother Adams should come to London by May 9th and stay 5 weeks till June 15th, and then go through Wiltshire and Gloucestershire to the west till association.
[p.68] That Brother Relley go next week through Wiltshire and Bristol to the west and stay there till July 10—then come to London and stay there till the association.
That all the other absent brethren go on in their rounds as has been verbally agreed till the association at Abergavenny, and there be further settled.
Agreed that Brother Adams, Relly and Stephens help Brother Harris at the Tabernacle, and that the other brethren for the present should assist in other places after examination and approbation at Abergavenny; the next association to be settled then and there.
102. [p.69] Att a meeting of some of the brethren at Abergavenny, June 21 1749 Present: the Revd Mr Whitefield, Brother Howell Harris, Brother Thomas Price, Brother Thomas Williams, Brother Thomas James, Brother Thomas Meredith, Brother Joseph Smith, Brother James Ingram, Brother William Humphreys, Brother William Jones, chatechist.
After putting some home questions to Brother Meredith, Smith and Humphreys about their hearts, etc., whether they are determined in their minds to go on in this work through all difficulties and tryals, having no future views of preferment, etc. And if they are willing to come under discipline and to be directed how to spend their time in using all means of improvement by reading, writing, etc.—and they answered satisfactorily.
It was agreed that for the present it appears best to continue about a fortnight at Chinner and Oxfordshire and a fortnight at Chatham, Maidstone, etc., about 3 weeks at Oulney, Kettering, etc., 3 weeks at Braintree, Cogs Hall, Tiptery Heath, etc.
103. Agreed that Brother Humphreys go now to Bristol and stay there 2 weeks till Brother Adams comes there, and then go to the west, then return to Wiltshire and Gloucestershire till the association.
[p.70] That Brother Meredith go now to Oxfordshire for a fortnight and then to Oulney and Kettering for 3 weeks, and then through London to Essex for 3 weeks and thence to Chatham for a fortnight, etc. till further settled.
That Brother Smith go directly to Essex and stay there 3 weeks, and go thence to Chatham for a fortnight, and thence to Chinner fortnight [sic], and thence to Oulney for 3 weeks.
That Brother Ingram go now through Herefordshire, Lemster and Ludlow to Wednesbury, etc. 3 weeks, and thence back to Radnorshire and Herefordshire for a fortnight, thence to Glamorganshire for 3 weeks, and thence through Gloucestershire and Wiltshire to Wednesbury and Ludlow for a month.
That Brother Adams come from Portsmouth through Wiltshire and Gloucestershire to Bristol to release Brother Humphreys against next Sunday fortnight, and Brother Smith send him word of it, and stay there a fortnight till Brother Relly come from the west to release him, and then come to London till Brother Harris comes there in two months time.
That Brother Relly be in the west till Brother Humphreys release him, then come to Bristol and stay there for a month till Brother Stephens comes to release him, then go till the association to Wednesbury, Gloucestershire, Wiltshire, etc.
[p.71] That Brother Stephens stay in London a month till Brother Adams comes up, then go to Portsmouth and Wiltshire till the association.
That Brother Harris come to London in about 2 months time to release Brother Adams, then meet Mr Whitefield and with him settle the exact time of the next association in about 3 months time.
104. Att an association held at London September 1,2,4, 6 and 7th 1749 (fn. 14) Present: the Reverend Mr Whitefield, Brother H. Harris, Brother Thomas Adams, Brother James Relly, Brother James Beaumont, Brother John Stevens, Brother Thomas Meredith, Brother James Ingram, Brother James Smith.
Mr Whitefield having declared his conviction to go about preaching the gospel over the nation at home and abroad as he is called and not to take the immediate care of any place, but having committed the care of his labours in England to Brother Harris, and the other brethren to assist each according to his abillity, he owns himself in connexion with the brethren in this branch and to do all he can to help carying on the work here suitable with his general plan and his care of the Orphan House, (fn. 15) etc.
As there had been want of a true close heart fellowship among the brethren, we continued to meet every day to pray and to confer about the work and to open our hearts to each other, and at length on Thursday 7th we came to a determination to stand by one another and to go on in connexion, preaching the Lord Jesus Christ [p.72] in a catholick spirit to all the churches, but as we are called in an especial manner in the established church to continue in its communion. And whereas Brother Stevens has been rebaptized, we agreed as his heart is in this work and is determined to go on in connexion, only desiring the liberty of his own private judgment, that he should go on with us on condition he should not propagate judgment about baptism least confusion arise, and if any speak to him about it to give his opinion gently and to acquaint Brother Harris and the other brethren of any person being in doubt about their opinion, that they may hear both sides, nor joyn himself to any church but on condition of his having his free liberty to go on with this work with us like the other brethren, and be at his liberty to receive the sacrament as he occasionally does in the established or any other church when occasion offered.
105. It was mutually agreed that as we are fully satisfyed of one another as to our doctrine and catholick spirit to all, and all our jealousies are removed, that we should defend each others carracters, and if any thing should seem blamable in any in spirit, conduct or expression, that the brother should be spoken to or wrote to to clear himself and explain what might appear dubious, agreeing in all gospel truths and our catholick spirit to all.
[p.73] We agreed also to go on with the Tabernacle plan as before setled by Mr Whitefield at the beginning, vizt:
to have letters of the progress of the gospell read when any news worth communicating offered,
to have love feasts kept up as we find them used by the apostles, and have been used and peculiarly blessed among us,
to preach punctual at the stated hours,
that none come in on Tuesday evenings to private society but the members, and each to shew their tickett without any respect of persons.
The brethren that assist at the Tabernacle agreed to visit one each in his residence the different choirs, vizt. the marryed men and marryed women, the single men and single women and widows, and visit the classes if they are able and have freedom and don't find it too much, or if so leave it till Brother Harris comes. And meet the conference Sunday morning and Tuesday night for a little while, and the door keepers once a month.
106. Being made sensible of our utter inabillity to perform the duties of love to each other, trusting wholly to the Lord for strength to carry us through, that we may feel each others burthen each as his own and rejoyce in each others gifts and graces, and have but heart, mind and soul; we setled our rounds, being we trust eternally united to one another to go with our lives in our hand, having last up the [illegible], having no temporall view while here but to poor [p.74] and despised, and having nothing in our view but to preach Christ crucifyed to poor sinners apprehended by a living faith of the opperation of God, productive of all the fruitts of the spirit and all gospel obedience to all the divine commands according to the tenet of the doctrine of the Church of England assemblies, chatechism and of all the reformed churches.
That the new house near Hampton, Gloucestershire be setled to the society for the payment of the debt on it till the money be raised by collecion, vizt. £35 to the brethren there and £20 to Brother Williams here in London, as is minuted on the society book. (fn. 16)
That Mr Whitefield setle the affairs of the Tabernacle and the new house with Mr Brown.
That Deptford at 8, Lambeth at 2 and Bird Street at 6 be supplyed on Sundays every other Sunday by the brethren that supply the adjacent places to London.
That our next association be kept at Bristol on Wednesday, December the 20th 1749.
107. In (fn. 17) November (fn. 18) following, Brother Harris came to London with [illegible] and declared his freedom only to discourse among us [illegible] ask him (vizt. Moravians, Wesleys, etc.) he parted and discoursed his last discourse [illegible] in December and ditto all we [illegible].