HERE is great propriety in selecting the Minutes of the earliest Conferences as the first publication of the Wesley Historical Society. It was in these Conferences that the foundation-stones of Methodism were laid. There the doctrinal teaching was defined, the method of procedure in the great work determined, and the disciplinary regulations fixed. Wesley gives the following brief account of these early meetings - In June, 1744, I desired my brother and a few other Clergymen to meet me in London, to consider how we should proceed to save our own souls and them that heard us. After some time I invited the Lay Preachers that were in the house to meet with us. We conferred together for several days, and were much comforted and strengthened thereby. The next year I not only invited most of the Travelling Preachers, but several others to confer with me in Bristol. And from that time for some years, though I invited only a part of the Travelling Preachers, yet I permitted any that desired it to be present. This I did for many years, and all that time the term Cojlfereelzce meant, not so much the conversation we had together, as the persons that conferred namely, those that I invited to confer with me from time to time. So that all this time it depended on me alone, not only what persons should constitute the Conference,-but whether there should be any Conference at all. Then, as now, the term Conference was used to designate the persons who were present. The Minutes were always entitled during Wesleys life hfinutes of some late Conversations between the Rev. hfr. Wesley and others, and afterwards hfinutes of several Conversations, C. In the republication of the Minutes in gvo., begun in the year 1812, they were called Minutes of the Methodist Conferences. The phrase, The Minutes of Conference, is now familiar to hfethodists in all parts of the world. Thozcghts zcpon some late Occzrrrences, in IVorkr, xiii. The first printed Minutes appeared in the year 1749 but a record or all the proceedings of the Conferences up to that time had been made in writing, though it is not known who acted as official Secretary or Recorder of the several meetings, and it is probable that other members of the Conference wrote out copies of the, hiinutes for their own use. One of the most valuable of the MS. copies. of these early hlinutes is preserved in the Headingley College Library. The Rev. G. S. Rowe describes it as a small book 6 ins. by 4 ins. and adds, It is accompanied by a document, which authenticates it satisfactorily as the copy used by Wesley and carried in his pocket until he began to publish the hlinutes. Its appearance agrees herewith, the paper boards in which it is bound being much worn. The contents are in four handwritings and, here and there, are corrections in J7esleys own hand. The record begins with the Wednesday of the Conference of 1744 and as this appears on the first page, the pages being consecutively numbered, it would seem that the printed Minutes of the two preceding days were taken from another report. The following is an exact copy of the document referred to, which is in the hand-writing of Miss Tooth, a lady well known in London hiethodism in the earlier half of this century -The successional integrity of this little valuable book is thus ascertained and accurately traced i. Mr. MTesley, who reposited it with his step son-in-law, ii. Mr. Smith, of Newcastle, at whose death it fell into the iii. hands of his daughter, Mrs...
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