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fell into the toils of love. The Wesleyan Connexion owe it, perhaps, to the clever woman who became his first wife, that he did not devote himself to missionary labour. Nor is this the only obligation conferred upon them by the late Mrs. Bunting, who, both as a wife and as a mother, was peculiarly adapted to aid in the formation of a character for public life. Through the influence of the Rev. Walter Griffith,—a man who united the gentlest manners with the firmest principles, and of whom it is recorded that he deliberately refused to meet death with his faculties clouded by opiates,-Mr. Bunting passed from Macclesfield to London, where his reputation was already such that he preached before the Sunday-school Union, a discourse published by request under the title of A Great Work.' After a sojourn of two years in the metropolis, he was removed to Manchester, where he first distinguished himself as an advocate for ecclesiastical order, in a joint pamphlet against some troublesome insurgents called the Bandroom party. From this time, although still young, he may be regarded as one of the leading men in the Connexion. No man ever rose so rapidly. By unprecedented strides, he stepped successively into the highest offices. With every fresh circuit, he gained new and more extensive popularity; and, while a general favourite among the people, as speedily acquired the almost universal confidence of his ministerial brethren. They recognised in him one who had well studied the Wesleyan economy, who possessed a remarkable talent for government and administration, and who was capable of comprehending in his grasp the largest interests, prompt in fertile expedients for every emergency, and farsighted in his estimate of the future. Four times has he been elected to the chair of Conference; and for many years he has filled the two most distinguished permanent offices in the Connexion,-those of President of the Wesleyan Theological Institution, in its two branches at Richmond and Didsbury, and of Principal Secretary of the Wesleyan Missionary Society. Resident in London, but at liberty to travel when and where he pleases, his sagacious eye is constantly cast over all the interests of the Wesleyan church; information pours in to him from every corner of the kingdom and from every quarter of the globe; and often as the Conference comes round, he astonishes yet more and more his admiring and confiding brethren, with his intimate and perfect knowledge of the affairs of their whole body, and with the unhesitating and almost unerring wisdom that enables him to surmount every difficulty, anticipate every necessity, and satisfy every demand.
Of the mode and character of his administration there are various opinions, modified by the aspects under which it is
viewed, the feelings of parties, and their opportunities of information. Some are altogether eulogistic, others qualify their commendations with a dilution of censure, while others again see more to censure than to applaud. During the last thirty years,' says the late Rev. Edmund Grindrod,* our legislation bears intrinsic evidence of being the production of one superior mind. Other parties may have contributed original suggestions and emendations. But it is obvious that one master hand, for the last generation, has framed the great majority of the acts of our Conference. Besides many minor regulations dispersed through our annual minutes, the invaluable system of finance, particularly in the department of the Contingent Fund, the entire constitution of the Missionary Society, of the Theological Institution, and of our Sunday Schools, were framed by the same honoured minister. May the future leaders in our spiritual Israel be adorned with the same virtues which have so eminently characterised his honourable and useful career!'
With this brief testimony, which, though it proceeds from a gentleman who owed a great deal to the object of his eulogy, is by no means overcharged, may be contrasted that of another writert, who has had equal opportunities with Mr. Grindrod of forming a correct judgment, without, however, having equal inducements to take a favourable view,-who, indeed, acknowledges that, as an individual, he is in love with neither the spirit nor the policy of the gentleman in question.' By this critic he is regarded as a ruler, a politician, and a financier. As a ruler, he is deemed despotic both by nature and from art. This temper is thought to have involved him in numerous Wesleyan broils,-in the band-room fracas, at Manchester; in the squabble about teaching writing on Sundays, at Sheffield; in another Sunday-school agitation, during his second station at Manchester; in the miserable organ schism, at Leeds; and in the famous prosecution of Dr. Warren, wherein he was right enough as to the man, but very far wrong as to the principles. As a politician, he has credit for great foresight, caution, judgment, and what, but for the influence of religion, would degenerate into low cunning; and, 'being fond of his own measures, he is naturally jealous of those of others, and not always nice, either as to means or expression, in the way of opposition.' His chief excellence is thought to lie in the exchequer departHe is au fait at estimates, and considerably up to ways and means. His calculations can seldom be impugned, and his budget generally passes without a division, although the conse
Compendium of the Laws and Regulations of Wesleyan Methodism. Introduction. 1842.
+ Manuscript, 1844.
quent monetary pressure may sometimes elicit a few murmurs. It is questioned whether he has not devoted himself too much to the mint, anise, and cummin, and too little to judgment, mercy, and truth; too much to the income and expenditure of the Connexion, and too little to the spiritual advance or decline of the people; too much to the pocket, and too little to the heart. He is more than suspected of an idolatrous homage for the great and rich. His vote for Lord Sandon in 1833, is remembered against him by others besides anti-slavery men; nor do his selections for the chair at the annual meetings of the Wesleyan Missionary Society always escape animadversion. He may be influenced by the colour of men's politics as well as of their money; but, in the furtherance of his plans, he is observed too frequently to associate with himself men of large property and little piety. His eloquence is of a high order, but it is that of a pleader rather than an orator; and, especially in later life, his public career has been much more that of a man of business, than of a minister of religion. Among the connexional measures of which he is the author, are enumerated,-the sanction of organs in chapels; the law which qualifies ministers of fourteen years' standing to vote in elections to the high offices' of president and secretary; the holding of public missionary meetings, which began at Leeds, and which was for some time strongly opposed by many of the older and more influential ministers; the appointment of a separate house and premises for the missionary secretary and the business of the Missionary Society; the establishment of the Theological Institution, which, however desirable in itself, was carried with a high hand; the stationing of the president in London, on his election to office; with many other measures of minor significance. It is added, in proof of his forecast, that there is hardly one measure of his, by which he has not personally profited. The fourteen-year men, outvoting the 'grave and reverend,' but no longer 'most potent seniors,' immediately rewarded his successful exertions, by putting him into the presidential chair, to which he had paved for himself this shorter road. The missionary meetings resulted in the secretaryship. Mission premises gave additional permanency to the office, with a station in London. And the Theological Institution involved his appointment to the presidency thereof. His policy, it is remarked, never quits him.† By various contrivances, he has managed, without directly trenching on Methodist law, to neutralise, for the furtherance of his designs, the itinerant principle. Nearly half his connexional life has been spent in • Grindrod, p. 3.
+ See Fly-Sheets,' No. II., p. 15, respecting Mr. Fowler.
London. The law is, that no man shall stay longer than three years in a circuit, nor return to it till after the lapse of eight years; but, by dividing London into many circuits, he has made it possible for a minister, like Cowper's fire-side traveller, to pass a great part of his itinerant career without once getting into a railway train, or, like the hand of a clock, to reach the utmost circumference without straying from that influential centre. By these and similar arts, he has obtained such a position as to get himself and his immediate friends placed on all the connexional committees. Thus the metropolis has become the seat of empire for the imperium as well as for the imperio;* only, the former being an ecclesiastical affair, the council chamber is found, not in Downing-street, but in the more appropriate locale of Bishopsgate. Some of the arts attributed to him are vulgar enough, and would almost be dignified by being described as 'low cunning.' He waits till others have spoken in the Conference, to have the advantage of making the last impression. He defers, till near the close of its sittings, when the majority of the brethren have gone home, his more questionable measures. At the Conference of 1843 or 1844, for instance, he is said to have obtained by this wretched stratagem, a veto for the London committee, authorizing them to reject a candidate for the ministry, after having passed not only the Quarterly Meeting, not only the District Meeting, but even the Conference itself,-a point opposed by different district committees the year before, when hinted to them in a printed circular. He is regarded as having too much lost sight of the true ends of Methodism, as a system for the conversion of men, in his prevailing desire to aggrandise it in the eyes of the public. Hence, it is alleged, there is a great deal of glare and glitter about his measures. Every thing is calculated to strike and impress. The Centenary Hall was designed to make folk stare. Is not this great Babylon that I have built?' Every connexional office, from the highest to the lowest, has participated in his spirit, and been invested with an authority challenging awe, and adapted to extort obedience from fear, rather than to induce it from love; he himself being more feared than loved by his brethren. His close study of public events, and his frequent attendance in the gallery of the House of Commons, are thought to have been made subservient to his purposes. He is charged with having brought the politician and the statesman into the church, and with turning to account any hint or lesson in tactics, policy, finance, or government, which his quick observation may have picked up in the purlieus of parliament. It is not denied that his Southey, in the Preface to his Life of Wesley, designates the Wesleyan body as an imperium in imperio.'
administration, with all its blemishes,' has been productive of 'great good;' but it is bitterly lamented that his line of procedure has had the effect, even within the walls of the Conference, of fostering the spirit of suspicion,' in place of the frankness of brotherhood.' In fine, so far as the present authority deponeth, 'Dr. Bunting's power is unbounded, and is often withering in its effect on free discussion,-too great, indeed, for the safety of the body and for the comfort of his brethren; and he will serve as a warning to them in future, to check the risings of any other aspirant who may seek to tread in his steps. So much for the ONE MAN who is alone amidst the thousands of our Israel, standing like a tall column in the centre of a vast plain, seen by all and over all.'
The foregoing sketch of the man who has mainly contributed to make Methodism what it has become during the first half of the nineteenth century, is obviously one-sided; and, though, it may be, perfectly true in each particular, is so largely composed of objections, apart from what is praiseworthy, as to produce an effect which neither honest truth nor equal justice would quite warrant. We have seen each side presented by itself: let us now see both sides together-if possible, a true picture of the whole man, nothing extenuating nor setting down aught in malice. There lies upon our table an anonymous volume,* in which, under the mysterious heading 'No. . ** ** ** *, we find a sketch of character which we have no hesitation in applying to the subject in hand. The volume itself excited, on its publication, so lively an interest in Wesleyan circles, that every one was curious to ascertain the pen from which it had proceeded; and we believe an investigation not easily to be paralleled beyond the walls of the Holy Inquisition, was instituted in the Conference itself, with the view, if possible, to decide the interesting question. For our own part, we never had a doubt upon the subject. It is said that only an Apelles can paint an Alexander: sure we are that none but the man himself could paint with such literal fidelity as we discover in one of the hundred portraits of this Wesleyan gallery. Why the Conference should have been in such a taking about these takings,' we never could make out. The limner holds a free, yet faithful pencil; and his sketches, though spirited, are not exaggerated even when sarcastic, he is not acrimonious. Dr. Bunting's sycophants may foolishly resent any thing which intimates his kinship to the fallen race of Adam; but he is himself too magnanimous to wish, like Wolsey, to be portrayed only on the better side of his face, well aware that such a step would warrant less flattering painters in exhibiting the worse alone. The fair-dealing artist of whose full-length painting Wesleyan Takings, 2d edition, 1840.