Wednesday, November 24, 2010
Local Preachers Rebel against JW and Appeal to Conference
Mon 22 Nov 1779: My brother and I set out for Bath, on a very extraordinary occasion. Some time since, Mr. Smyth, a clergyman whose labours God had greatly blessed in the north of Ireland, brought his wife over to Bath, who had been for some time in a declining state of health. I desired him to preach every Sunday evening in our chapel, while he remained there. But as soon as I was gone Mr. McNab, one of our preachers, vehemently opposed that; affirming it was the common cause of all the lay preachers; that they were appointed by the Conference, not by me, and would not suffer the clergy to ride over their heads—Mr. Smyth in particular, of whom he said all manner of evil. Others warmly defended him. Hence the society was torn in pieces and thrown into the utmost confusion. On Tuesday 23, I read to the society a paper which I wrote near twenty years ago on a like occasion. Herein I observed that ‘the rules of our preachers were fixed by me, before any Conference existed’, particularly the twelfth: ‘Above all, you are to preach when and where I appoint.’ By obstinately opposing which rule Mr. McNab has made all this uproar. In the morning, at a meeting of the preachers, I informed Mr. McNab that as he did not agree to our fundamental rule, I could not receive him as one of our preachers till he was of another mind. On Wednesday 24, I read the same paper to the society at Bristol, as I found the flame had spread thither also. A few at Bath separated from us on this account; but the rest were thoroughly satisfied.