Classic History Books

Great Britain and Her Queen - by Anne E. Keeling

came so mightily on them that all were awed into silence, some sank down insensible, and on recovering
they sang with one voice their Te Deum of reverent praise.

The centenary year being decided, a three days' convention of ministers and laymen was held at
Manchester to make the needful arrangements; its proceedings were marked by a wonderful enthusiasm

and liberality.

The Centenary Conference assembled at Liverpool in 1839. It could report an increase of 13,000
members. On August 5 it suspended its ordinary business for the centenary services - a prayer-meeting at

six in the morning being followed by sermons preached by the Rev. Thomas Jackson and the President,

the Rev. Theophilus Lessey. A few weeks later came the festal day, October 25, morning

prayer-meetings and special afternoon and evening services being held throughout the country. Never

had there been such large gatherings for rejoicing and thanksgiving; there were festivities for the poor

and for the children of the day and Sunday schools. These celebrations, in which the whole Methodist

Church joined, aroused the interest of the nation, and called forth appreciative criticism from press and


When the idea of this first great Thanksgiving Fund was originally contemplated, the most hopeful only
dared look for L10,000; but when the accounts were closed the treasurers were in possession of

L222,589, one meeting at City Road having produced L10,000; and the effort was made at a time of

great commercial depression. This remarkable liberality drew the attention of the Pope, who said in an

encyclical that the heretics were putting to shame the offerings of the faithful.

Not a few meetings took the form of lovefeasts, where generous giving proved the reality of the religious
experiences; for there has ever been an intimate connexion between the fellowship and the finance of

Methodism. Part of the great sum raised went to the Theological Institution, part to Foreign Missions;

Wesleyan education was helped by a grant, L1,000 were paid over to the British and Foreign Bible

Society; and the laymen desiring to help the worn-out ministers and their widows and children, L16,000

were set aside to form the Auxiliary Fund for this purpose.

It was now that the Missionary Committee were enabled to secure the Centenary Hall, the present
headquarters of the Missionary Society. The remaining sums were given to other useful purposes.

Methodism in 1839 in all its branches [Footnote] reckoned more than 1,400,000 members, with 6,080
itinerant preachers and 350 missionaries; 50,000 pupils were instructed in the mission schools, and there

were upwards of 70,000 communicants and at least 200,000 hearers of the gospel in Methodist mission

chapels. In England alone the Wesleyan Methodists owned 3,000 chapels, and had many other preaching

places; there were 3,300 Sunday schools, 341,000 scholars, and 4,000 local preachers. These figures,

when, compared with those given at the end of our sketch, will furnish some idea of the numerical

advance of Methodism throughout the world during the Queen's reign.

[Footnote: "Methodism in all its branches" must be understood of all bodies bearing the name of
Methodist, including the New Connexion and the Primitive Methodists. The membership of Wesleyan

Methodism alone throughout the world, according to the Minutes of Conference for 1839, was

1,112,519; and the total ministry, including 335 missionaries, 4,957.]

The centenary celebrations marked the high flood-tide of spiritual prosperity for many ensuing years, for
a time of great trial followed. Gladly would we forget the misunderstandings of our fathers; yet this

sketch would be incomplete without reference to unhappy occurrences which caused the loss of 100,000


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