Orange Scott forms the Wesleyan Methodists

Orange Scott was born on February 13, 1800 at Brookfield, Vermont. The eldest of eight children, he grew up in Vermont, USA, in an “extremely poor family”. He had little schooling; 13 months in all! Nor did he have any “Sunday” clothes … so he never went to church.

But at the age of 21 he attended a camp meeting at Barre, Vermont, was converted, and joined the Methodist Episcopal Church. (That branch of American Methodism had ‘bishops’, hence the word ‘episcopal’ in the name of the denomination.)

He was licensed as a local preacher in 1822. He was the presiding elder of the Springfield district, Massachusetts, from 1830-1834 and of the Providence (Rhode Island) district in 1834-35.

Before long Orange Scott was “a successful revival preacher.” Then he took a pastorate which gave him time to study – “his grammar and spelling book lay on the table beside his Bible and commentary.”

Scott was one of the most popular preachers of New England. He was not afraid to be controversial and his powerful voice was used to great effect. He “set the New England circuits afire with his eloquence”.

Then came the clash … for Scott believed in the abolition of slavery and was active on that cause in 1837. The Methodist Episcopal Church opposed him. At their general conference they even accused him of being “a reckless incendiary” or a “mental incompetent”!

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Orange Scott eventually severed all connections with his church (though not until 8 November, 1842) – and with some like-minded friends began publishing “The True Wesleyan”, a magazine that was truer to Wesley’s teachings than the church from which he had withdrawn.

On 31 May, 1843, Scott presided over the formation of a new denomination with the assistance of two others – the “Wesleyan Methodist Connection”, as it was at first called, at its first general convention at Utica, New York. Today the Wesleyan Church continues to hold high the banner of holiness, evangelism and missions.

Those early revival days relied much on camp meetings, where travelling preachers, rousing music and long meetings were the order of the day. In 1831 Scott compiled a compendium of hymns titled “A New and Improved Camp Meeting Hymn Book”, testifying to his active involvement in that camp meeting movement.

Evangelical, Arminian in theology, and gracious in demeanour, Wesleyans everywhere thank God for the courage and wisdom of Orange Scott. He died of consumption in Newark, New Jersey on 31 July, 1847 – at the age of 48.

“Let all our ministers and people keep the unity of the Spirit in the bond of perfectness, and there is nothing to fear!” Such are given as being among his dying words.

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This post is based on notes by my late friend Donald Prout. I have updated these historical posts with information gleaned from other sources. I am indebted to Don for awakening in me an interest in Church History. Don’s notes can be found at: www.donaldprout.com

Determined to be Slaves

While we celebrate the abolition of slavery and the work of such men as William Wilberforce we may fail to recognise the level of personal slavery that millions of people live in.

Michael Apted’s recent movie, Amazing Grace, starring Ioan Gruffudd as Wilberforce and Albert Finney as John Newton, celebrates one significant step in removing the scourge of slavery from the western world. Sadly, as the movie reveals, it was not any high moral impetus that won the day but a trick of legal restriction on certain types of shipping. Economic complications were the agency used to stop the English engagement in slavery.

But slaves were still traded by other nations and unscrupulous operators masked their slave trade by implied agreement from those they took captive. Thus Pacific Islanders were taken to Australia’s Queensland cane farms long after slavery was ‘removed’.

Personal Slavery

The point of this posting, however, is not the evils of enslavement of others against their will, but the personal choice to be slaves, by the personal will of those who would be slaves.

It’s an absurd proposition, isn’t it? Why would free people seek out the chance to be slaves? Surely no-one does such things.

Personal Slavery is Endemic

Personal slavery is not only something that happens, it is endemic. It is almost an addiction: a madness which captures the imagination of generations, drawing them into voluntary slavery.

For all I know YOU may be one of those who is drawn into slavery.

What is worse than the initial slavery itself is that people who have been slaves and then been set free are in danger of willingly submitting to slavery all over again.

The Apostle Paul actually wrote about the issue in his famous letter to the church in Galatia. He tells the people to stand firm in their newfound freedom and not to be enslaved again.

“Stand fast therefore in the liberty wherewith Christ has made us free, and do not be entangled again with the yoke of bondage.” Galatians 5:1

Drawn to Slavery

Believe it or not free people are drawn back to slavery. Whether you put that down to foolishness or some kind of addiction to slavery, it is a factor that we all need to recognise. It is a reality that impacts society. People are drawn into slavery.

Paul spoke of this slavery to things in another letter, this time to the believers in Colosse. He challenged their willingness to come under rules and regulations which free people do not need to be under.

“So, if you are dead with Christ from the rudiments of the world, why, as though living in the world, are you subject to ordinances, (Touch not; taste not; handle not; Which all are to perish with the using;) after the commandments and doctrines of men?” Colossians 2:20-22

Paul knew that Christians are not slaves to rules and regulations like others in the world and he wanted the church in Colosse to be free from the imposition of such rules upon them.

That church in Colosse, which was full of free people, was in danger of throwing away some of its freedom and coming into slavery to rules and regulations.

Bullied into Slavery

Imagine the scenario where some people wish to bring others under their rules and regulations. A free person resists, but then finds that others are rebuking them and pressuring them to be like everyone else.

It’s just that easy to make slavery into a popular idea.

That is what was happening to the church in Colosse.

God Sets People Free

Jeremiah the prophet struggled to show God’s people that God had set them free from slavery and that they had gone straight back into sin which enslaved them.

“For of old time I have broken your yoke (of slavery), and burst your chains; and you said, I will not transgress; when upon every high hill and under every green tree you wander, playing the harlot (being unfaithful to God).” Jeremiah 2:20

The Israelites worshipped idols on every elevated place and under the groves of trees, committing spiritual unfaithfulness, even though God had broken the yoke of Egyptian slavery off their lives and broken the chains of other things which bound them.

These people were drawn to slavery and were determined to be slaves, despite the fact that they had once been slaves and then been set free.

Iniquity is the Issue

The problem for the Children of Israel is the same problem for us all. It is iniquity which draws us into slavery. See what Jeremiah added to his warning just a few verses later.

“For though you wash yourself with nitre, and use much soap, yet your iniquity is marked before me, says the Lord GOD.” Jeremiah 2:22

Cleaning up your image doesn’t change the condition of your heart. Iniquity in your heart will enslave you and bring you back into bondage. You will have a heart to be a slave unless you deal with the sin that is within you.

So, are you a free man, or a slave? Worse still, are you one of those who heads back into slavery once you have been set free?

Barclay Buxton Impacts Japan

This is the day that …. Barclay Foxwell Buxton was born in Essex, England, in 1860. His father, Sir Thomas Fowell Buxton, 1st Baronet, was sole owner of Truman, Hanbury, Buxton & Co and an elected member of British Parliament for almost twenty years who helped found the Anti-Slavery Society and who was instrumental in the abolition of slavery.

The Buxtons also had a famous Quaker connection. Barclay’s mother was Hannah Gurney, sister to the famous Quakers Joseph John Gurney and Elizabeth Fry, the prison reformer (depicted on the Bank of England Five Pound Note in 2002). The Buxton family financially supported Elizabeth Fry’s prison reform work and became members of her Association for the Improvement of the Female Prisoners.

Barclay was converted (or came to assurance) during DL Moody’s eight-day Cambridge Crusade – it was Tuesday, 9 November, 1883, to be precise – and the gospel he had intellectually known for so long ‘now became crystal clear to him’.

In 1885 he was ordained to the Church of England priesthood … and almost immediately felt the call of the mission field.

Five years later we find him and his wife Margaret, with six others, sailing for Japan under the banner of the Church Missionary Society.

Barclay’s missionary impact was profound, especially considering others had laboured fruitlessly in Japan. He brought methods of evangelism and emphasis on the Holy Spirit not liked by all when he came to Japan in 1890. But people could not argue against his holy lifestyle and the results of his ministry. Within several weeks of his arrival over 700 people were attending his gospel services. By the end of the first year seven churches had been founded in the Matsuye and Yonago areas where he served.

He was a proponent of the doctrine of Entire Sanctification and of the Baptism with the Holy Ghost as a second work of grace, distinct from conversion, in the believers’ heart.

Eight years later Barclay Buxton and his fellow worker, A. Paget Wilkes, organised the Japan Evangelistic Band – an interdenominational mission dedicated to ‘evangelism, conventions and training national workers’.

The Buxton Estate is now home to All Nations Christian College, the largest Missionary Training College in Western Europe, which was co-founded by his son Godfrey Buxton.

Barclay Buxton died in 1946.

This post is based on the work of my late friend Donald Prout whose love for books and Christian history led him to collate a daily Christian calendar. I continue to work with Don’s wife, Barbara, to share his life work with the world. I have updated some of these historical posts and will hopefully draw from Don’s huge files of clippings to continue this series beyond Don’s original work. More of Don’s work can be found at www.donaldprout.com.