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The New Zealand Evangelist

The Wesleyan Conference And The “Fly Sheets.”

The Wesleyan Conference And The “Fly Sheets.”

A good deal of excitement has been occasioned in England by the expulsion of the Rev. Messrs. Everett, Dunn, and Griffiths, Jun., from the Wesleyan Conference, on account of their supposed connexion with the Fly Sheets. The Fly Slects, some of our readers may not know, were certain anonymous publications, attacking in a most violent manner the Wesleyan Conference and its leading men, such as Drs. Bunting and Newton, and accusing them for mal-administration, especially in the appropriation of their mission funds. No 1 of the Fly Sheets, was published in 1844 or 5; No. 2 in 1846; and No. 3, and a second edition of No. 1 in 1847. The Conference of 1847 passed a resolution, from which there were only two dissenting voices, strongly condemning the Fly Sheets, and the Rev. G. Osborne was permitted to present to the ministers for signature a short declaration, disavowing all connexion with the authorship of the Fly Sheets. This declaration was largely subscribed, but a considerable number declined subscribing, on the ground that the resolution of the Conference was sufficient. The writers of the Fly Sheets continued their opposition unabated, and the promoters of the declaration seeing the advantage that was taken of the minority of 256 ministers, out of the whole connexion, who did not sign, opened the declaration anew, and procured a great number of names to be affixed to it. The minority was gradually lessened, till the three ministers already mentioned, still refusing to submit to this page 348 method of procedure, were finally expelled from the Conference.

From our neutral position as members of the Evangelical Alliance, we can neither be the defenders of the expelled ministers, nor the apologists of the Conference, The three ministers are men of considerable standing, in years, talents, and acquirements; a great amount of sympathy is expressed towards them, both among other denominations and in their own; and the proceedings of the Conference certainly bear a rather inquisitorial appearance, and are of a somewhat unprecedented character. On the other hand, the Fly Sheets were published without the name of either the writers or printers, but they furnished internal evidence of being the productions of Wesleyan preachers. If it was a real desire to redress the evils complained of why not bring the matter openly forward in some constitutional way? Why resort to this stiletto warfare? The perfect unanimity of the Conference in expelling them, appears strange, if they were innocent. In such a large body, where the circumstances were all well known, if the sentence had been really unjust, humanity and christianity are both, changed, if some independent spirits had not stood forth in their defence; but for two of them, only one hand beyond their own, and for one of them, not a single hand was lifted up.

We mourn on account of this painful occurrence, but rejoice to learn that in all other respects the prospects of the Wesleyan Conference in its efforts to advance Christianity, were peculiarly cheering.