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and evangelical-free from lifeless formality on the one hand, and from inconsiderate extravagance and fanaticism on the other. When we mark carefully the gradual adoption of some of its parts, by Mr. Wesley and his successors, as suited to the wants and condition of the people; the astonishing success of their labors in the conversion of sinners and the sanctification of believers; the support they received in the midst of severe trials, afflictions, and persecutions; their triumphs over enemies of every kind; and the general unity and harmony of the great body, on both sides the Atlantic, can we doubt for a moment the special and continual interposition of that Being who notices the fall of a sparrow, and has said in his word, "Even the very hairs of your head are all numbered!" Candor will freely acknowledge the truth of both parts of the above proposition.
All the important circumstances connected with the rise, progress, and present state of such a system, wherever its hallowed influence has been felt and seen in the hearts and lives of men, ought to be fully recorded for the benefit of the present and every succeeding generation. A history of this kind-of Methodism, and especially of American Methodism-is certainly a desideratum in the Christian world. But such a history, if I have been correctly informed, is now in course of preparation by an eminent servant of the church in New-York, well qualified for the task. Every tributary stream of intelligence on this subject, however small, ought to be directed into this grand reservoir. This is, in part, the design of the present article.
But, in descending to particulars in the collection of materials for such a history, serious difficulties arise. We have but two sources of information-the recollection of individuals, and the records of the church. Without reflection, one might suppose that these sources are quite ample, and afford all the facilities necessary in the case. But this is not the fact. The bare remembrance of events by the aged members of the church-events which transpired forty, fifty, or sixty years ago—cannot, in all instances, be depended upon with sufficient certainty for transmission to posterity as a correct and impartial narrative of ecclesiastical affairs. And the records of the church,-by which we can properly understand nothing but the minutes and journals of the General and Annual Conferences, the reports of missionaries, and the notices of revivals published in our periodicals,—are necessarily so limited and brief that little knowledge can be gained from them, except the names of the preachers, their yearly appointments, trials, and appeals; reports of committees, the numbers in society, obituary notices of those laborers who have fallen in the work, and revivals of religion in particular parts of the country. True, information on these points is very desirable, and of great importance in writing a history of the church, or of any part of it. But ought not every preacher, local and travelling, to keep a journal? And ought not every circuit and station in the land to keep a church register? A few circuits and stations have a book, in which the number of members belong ing to the charge, the names of the official members, and the baptisms and marriages are recorded. And every one is required to "steward's have its "recording steward," and, consequently, a book." But each one ought, also, to have a book for the purpose VOL. IX.-April, 1838.
of recording, besides the above items, every thing of interest connected with the work in that particular charge. There are few things, indeed, relative to Methodism anywhere, but are worthy to be registered for the satisfaction of those immediately concerned; if not to be printed and published for the benefit of mankind.
Some of the preachers keep journals. But they bear, too generally, a particular reference to themselves, and not to the work. They are a mere memorandum of travels, appointments, and stopping places, with scarcely a single interesting fact, in several successive pages, to take away the dull monotony of a continued repetition of the same thing. This remark is true of even Bishop Asbury's journal. But he was a very laborious minister. Few, if any, have ever surpassed him, either in extensive travels, or indefatigable pulpit exercises. Hence his journal possesses an interest which those of ordinary men do not. But in his three volumes of journal little information is contained relative to the original boundaries of circuits and districts, &c., &c. Such information would now be very desirable.
After this introduction, it may be observed, that there are several facts in connection with this country and with the church which render a sketch of Methodism here worthy of special notice. Maryland was originally settled by Irish Roman Catholics. It was the first colony erected into a province of Great Britain; the first governed by a provincial legislature; and the last to subscribe to the articles of confederation adopted by the other states, and published by Congress after the declaration of independence. The first Methodist church built in the state, if I have been correctly informed, stands within the bounds of this circuit. It was erected, as is supposed, by a few who are now gray-headed veterans, and who still remember the time, upward of sixty years ago. It is of an octagonal form, and known by the name of the "Mountain Meeting-house," being located near the base of the Sugar-loaf Mountain. The statement, however, that this was the first Methodist meeting-house in the state, I feel inclined to doubt. Bishop Asbury writes in his journal, Monday, April 18, 1773, "This day the foundation of our house in Baltimore was laid." This was sixty-four years the 18th day of last April, being, as is probable, two or three years prior to the erection of the church just mentioned. The first native American Methodist preacher, William Watters, spent his third year in the travelling connection, in part, in this circuit; and one of the first foreign ministers, Robert Strawbridge, a local preacher from Ireland, resided here for some time; and, according to Bishop Asbury's Journal, vol. iii, page 27, he formed the first Methodist society in America, within the bounds of the circuit to which this originally belonged. This society was formed at Pipe Creek, now included in Liberty circuit, Frederick county, where the Rev. Mr. Strawbridge had his place of residence, and where a conference of preachers was held on the 1st of May, 1801.
These considerations will, no doubt, be a sufficient apology for the length of the preceding remarks, and for the particularity of the whole narrative.
The geographical situation of this circuit, with its present boundaries, its extent while in connection with Frederick, from which it was separated in 1788, and the derivation of the names of the state and counties in which it is located, will first engage our attention.
Maryland-so called in honor of Henrietta Maria, youngest daughter of Henry IV. of France, and queen consort of Charles I. of England-was discovered in 1606, and granted by patent to George Calvert, baron of Baltimore in Ireland, in June, 1632. All that tract of country now embraced in Frederick, Montgomery, Washington, Alleghany, Carroll, and a part of Charles counties and Georgetown, was originally included in the limits of Prince George county. This county was so named, as is thought, in honor of George Augustus II., son of George Lewis I., king of Great Britain and elector of Hanover, who came to England with his father in 1714, where he received the title and rank of Prince of Wales. It was divided in 1748, and a part given to Charles county. Frederick county was formed in the same year. Georgetown, in the District of Columbia, was taken from Frederick in 1751. Montgomery and Washington counties were also separated from Frederick in 1776. Alleghany was taken from Washington in 1789. Montgomery court-house, mentioned by Bishop Asbury in his journal, as a place well arranged for public worship, was erected in 1788.
Montgomery circuit lies principally within the boundaries of the county from which it derives its name, extending also a short distance into Frederick and Anne Arundel counties. As Frederick county, which is the richest in the state, was, some years ago, inhabited chiefly by Germans, it is likely its name came from Frederick III., king of Prussia, commonly called "the Great," born at Berlin, January 24,1712, and died August 17, 1786, in the seventyfifth year of his age, and the forty-seventh of his reign; or, it may be, from Frederick IV., the last German emperor who was crowned at Rome, and who began his reign in 1440; in the beginning of which the art of printing was invented. Montgomery received its name in honor of the brave and intrepid Gen. Richard Montgomery, a native of Ireland, who fell before the city of Quebec, in November, 1775, the year preceding the formation of the county. Anne Arundel derived its name either from Anne, the wife of Earl Arundel, or from Anne, queen of England, second daughter of James II., by his first wife. The circuit itself, as it is now bounded, lying between Baltimore on the east, Washington on the south, and Frederick city on the north-west; sixteen miles from the first, fourteen from the second, and ten from the third, has eighteen appointments, and is about one hundred and eighty miles in circumference. But, in the first days of Methodism in this country, it was much more extensive; the exact boundaries, however, of the circuit, at that time, I am unable correctly to ascertain. Judging from the information I have succeeded in gathering on this point, it embraced the several circuits now known by the names of Frederick, Montgomery, Patapsco, Liberty, and Rock Creek; and, perhaps, even crossed the Potomac, a considerable distance into Virginia. A district was then as large as a conference in our day, and a circuit as large as a modern district. Those were days of the labors, travels, and sufferings of other men, and we have entered into their labors. Herein is that saying true, "One soweth, and another reapeth."
This circuit includes no mountains in its bounds, if we except a mere "knob" in one part of it, called "Sugar-loaf," referred to in the introduction. In this it differs from many of the circuits in
Pennsylvania and some other states. The country is, nevertheless, very hilly," or undulating, which makes the travelling frequently quite unpleasant. The soil, in some districts originally thin, has been so impoverished in many places by an injudicious mode of culture, and the raising of successive crops of Indian corn and tobacco, that the great number of superannuated or worn-out tobacco fields observable in several places give some parts of Montgomery circuit a very desolate appearance indeed. These uninclosed and uncultivated spots, overrun with blackberry briers, have often brought to my mind, while riding past them, the words of Solomon, "I went by the field of the slothful, and by the vineyard of the man void of understanding: and, lo, it was all grown over with thorns, and nettles had covered the face thereof, and the stone wall was broken down. Then I saw and considered it well; I looked upon it, and received instruction."
The inhabitants of this region, however, are beginning to awake on this subject; they are striving to improve their land by introducing lime, and, some of them at least, essentially improving their mode of husbandry.
The celebrated "Falls of the Potomac" are about three miles from one of our appointments. I had the satisfaction of visiting this natural curiosity, in a pleasant excursion a few weeks ago. The most commanding points of observation are difficult of access on the Maryland side. An admirer of nature, however, is amply compensated by the sight, for all his fatigue and danger in his efforts to reach them. The scenery in the immediate vicinity of the falls is wild and romantic. The water rushes in foaming torrents over the rugged rocks that oppose its course, sending out its deafening roar, in the calm hour of evening, for miles around; while the whole inspires the beholder with feelings of awe, and impresses him with a solemn sense of the power of God and the wonders of his works.
The inhabitants of the states south of Pennsylvania are proverbial for their kindness and attention to strangers and for their universal hospitality. This disposition strongly manifests itself by corresponding conduct in Maryland, especially in this circuit; and toward no class of persons does it flow more freely than to ministers of the gospel. They find a welcome home in every family they visit. This is as it should be; and while too great a familiarity is guarded against on the one hand, by which a preacher might lose the dignity and influence of his ministerial character, too much timidity and fear is avoided on the other, through which he might be prevented from ascertaining the true moral condition of individuals, and of administering that advice and instruction necessary for particular cases.
The subject of education obtains considerable favor and encouragement among the people in this part of the country. The state has established a primary-school system, which, however, is not yet very extensively in operation. There are in the circuit two male and one female academies. The latter, and one of the former, are located in Rockville, the county seat of justice; and the other is situated in Brookville. The female academy has, for its principals, two Misses Buchanan, of Baltimore. This school has been for the past season in a very flourishing condition. The superin
tendents are young ladies of respectability and well-improved minds; and one is a pious member of the Presbyterian church.
Were I not afraid of drawing this account into a tedious length to the reader, my pen would freely trace a few lines more in favor of female education. Whether morally, religiously, socially, or politically considered, it is of the utmost importance; and one of the characteristic signs of the times is, a knowledge of its interest connected with all the relations of life, and a vigorous prosecution of the work itself in every state in the union. May every lady in the land have the hands of Martha, the heart of Mary, the head of Hannah More, and the perseverance of old Anna the prophetess! And may the two female seminaries, to be located in Maryland and Virginia, under the patronage of the Baltimore Annual Conference, be speedily erected, and meet with that prosperity the long-neglected cause of female education so richly merits!
After these remarks on the geography of the country, the manners of the people, and the state of education within the bounds of Montgomery circuit, we may next approach, more particularly, the subject of religion itself. It has already been observed, that this state was originally colonized by Irish Roman Catholics. This colony consisted of about two hundred persons. And as a consequence of this early settlement-the country having been well supplied, from that day to this, with the devoted servants of his holiness-Maryland is generally supposed to be the strong hold of popery; and, indeed, if they have a strong hold in the union, it is certainly here. Here is their large and splendid cathedral; here are their chapels, their academies, and colleges; their nunneries, their priests and bishops, and the highest dignitary of the church in the United States. Yet, notwithstanding this array of schools, churches, and ecclesiastics, their grasp on the public mind is not very firm, and this grasp is relaxing. Their efforts, though vigorous and untiring, will be as unsuccessful in this land of light and Bibles, in disseminating their principles and in proselyting Protestants, as was the feeble arrow of old Priam when he sought the life of his enemy, that fell harmlessly at his victim's feet.
But it will appear by the following extract from the proceedings of a provincial Catholic legislature that, when this country was first settled, these persons were not as ignorant, degraded, and bigoted as they are commonly thought to be in the present day. The Assembly of Maryland, then composed almost exclusively of Catholics, enacted in 1649, and the act was confirmed in 1676, among the perpetual laws of the province,-" That no persons professing to believe in Jesus Christ should be molested in respect to their religion, or in the free exercise thereof, or be compelled to the exercise of any other religion against their consent; so that they be not unfaithful to the proprietary, or conspire against the civil government: that any person molesting another in respect of his religious tenets, should pay treble damages to the party aggrieved, and twenty shillings to the proprietary: that those reproaching any with opprobrious names of religious distinction, should forfeit ten shillings to the persons injured: that one speaking reproachfully of the blessed Virgin or the apostles should forfeit five pounds; and that blasphemy against God should be punished with death." This last offence, in the United States, is not now considered as a capital crime, though