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was assured that this was no ill augury. Through life he was always tremulous as he began his discourses, but there is no mention of his ever breaking down after the first effort. He became a most fluent speaker, and was always popular, though, as he never wrote any thing for the pulpit before preaching, he was at times too diffuse, though always impressive and often eloquent. IIe invariably commanded large congregations, and was soon in great demand.
In the year 1925 his brother William's health failed, which was the occasion of his being sent to supply the vacancy thus created. Egerton took for his first text the words, “ He that goethi forth and weepeth, bearing precious seed, shall doubtless come again with rejoicing, bringing his sheaves with him.” Psa. cxxvi, 6. A passage prospective of his future success. There were many discouragements in his path, but he persevered, believing that he was where God intended him to be. For eleven years he performed the duties of circuit preacher. Some of his circuits embraced several townships, but he had put his hand to the plow and never looked back. He had his share of the hardships and privations peculiar to the pioneer work of those early days. A lady states that she remembers that when he lodged at her father's house, in one of his early circuits, he was accustomed to gather a heap of pine-knots, by the light of which he pursued his studies in the morning before the household were awake.
Elder Case, “the father of Indian missions in Canada," made choice of him for the Indian work, as he was an adept in the study of languages, and was one of the best educated young men in the Connection. Ile remained only one year in the Indian work, but through life he was accustomed to speak of this appointment with no small degree of pleasure, as he enjoyed more quiet and real happiness and contentment than was his lot in city appointments and positions of greater emoluments. IIc labored with his usual zeal and diligence, and set the Indians an example of labor in the field, clearing and plowing the land. IIe kept up all the religious services, and studied hard to make himself familiar with the language of the people. A new church was also erected on the Indian reserve, largely through his instrumentality. More important fields of labor demanded his services, or else he would doubtless
have spent many years among the aborigines. During those years he was four times elected Secretary of Conference.
Egerton Ryerson next appears as editor of the “ Christian Guardian." This was in 1829. The Canada Conference was separated from the Methodist Episcopal Church in the United States in 1828, and now it was deemed necessary to have a connectional organ, and a capital of $2,000 was created, mostly by the preachers taking shares of $20 each. Mr. Ryerson wrote the first editorial, and when the journal had attained its jubilee, he wrote a suitable article detailing many reminiscences respecting its career. He was comparatively young when he ascended the tripod, but he wielded a vigorous pen, and during the years he was connectional editor he wrote many powerful articles which were of immense value to the Methodist Church, and greatly aided the cause of civil freedom in the country.
During the first year of his probation, when only 23 years of age, he was unexpectedly drawn into controversy with Archdeacon Strachan, who afterward became the first Bishop of the Anglican Church in Upper Canada. That gentleman, with a view to secure increased aid fro:n England on behalf of his Church in Canada, had published a gloomy account of the condition of the morals of the country, and greatly misrepresented other denoininations, but especially the Methodists. Mr. Ryerson and his superintendent were accustomed to meet once a month with a few friends in a social gathering. At one of these social meetings the “diatribe” of the archdeacon was read, when all present thought that an answer should be prepared immediately. It was agreed that the two preachers should cach prepare something against their next mecting, and out of what they should write something might be compiled that would be deemed suitable. When the next monthly meeting was held, the junior preacher only had complied with the request of the previous meeting. Ile read his paper, and the meeting demanded that it should be forthwith published. The author protested, but he was overruled and the essay was issued in pamphlet form, signed, “By a Methodist Preacher."
A wonderful sensation was produced by this little brochure. No previous publication had ever defended the Methodists of Canada, and nobody had presumed to question the arrogant
claims of the Established Church. In the course of a fortnight, four answers were published, three by clergymen of the Church of England, and one by a layman. All were full of bitterness. For a year the controversy thus begun was continued, during which the public mind was greatly excited. Public meetings were held in various places, and petitions were sent to the Legislature demanding that an investigation should be made as to the allegations respecting the effects produced by the teachings of the Methodist preachers, who were said to be "preaching the Gospel out of idleness,” they were “uneducated and preached withont any preparation,” and above all, the Imperial Parliament must come to the rescue, as“ republican principles will be instilled in the minds of the people by the religious teachers who come almost universally from the republican States of America.” “The Methodist Preacher ” denied this last allegation, for “out of the whole body of Methodist itinerant preachers there are only eight who have not been born and educated in the British dominions. And of those eight, ail except two have become naturalized British subjects, according to the statute of the province.” The other allegations were answered in an equally clear and conclusive manner.
The controversy on the Clergy Reserve Question was now fairly inaugurated. One seventlı portion of the public lands had been set apart for the maintenance of “the Protestant clergy, and the Anglican clergy claimed that they were the Protestant clergy," of whom there were then fifty-three in the British Colony of Canada, for whose special benefit nearly ten thousand pounds sterling were appropriated by the British Parliament, and the Propagation Society for the support of the Church of England in Canada; and yet a piteous outery was made for more money to save the Church of England from being swallowed up by “sectaries," and the country from becoming “republican.” All this while the Methodist ministers were not only denied the right of solemnizing matrimony, but the Methodist people were without a law to enable them to hold a foot of land on which to erect a place of worship or in which to bury their dead.
A Parliamentary Committee was appointed, which not only took into consideration the allegations previously named, but also “a Letter and Chart which had been sent to the Imperial
Parliament to procure additional grants for the support of the Church of England in Canada and a charter for a university.” Fifty-two witnesses were examined; among whom were ministers of various denominations, members of Parliament, and private citizens. The committee of “ the House,” after a careful examination made their report, on which an address was drafted to the King of England which makes respectful mention of the “Methodist preachers.” “The tendency of their influence and instruction is not hostile to our institutions, but, on the contrary, is eminently favorable to religion and morality; their labors are calculated to make their people better men and better subjects, and have already produced in this Province the happiest effects."
One benefit which resulted from this controversy was that "the IIouse” of Legislature passed an Act allowing all Christian denominations to hold land for public purposes. Land could now be conveyed to trustees for a congregation, not exceeding five acres for the site of a church, meeting-house, or chapel, or burying-ground. For this benefit the Methodist Church is largely indebted to Egerton Ryerson.
The controversy on the “Clergy Reserve Question” was continucd for many years, and called forth numerous combatants, but it was acknowledged that none wielded a more vigorous pen than Egerton Ryerson," the Methodist Preacher.” The question was finally set at rest, and thongh the finale miglit not be in every respect such as he and those associated with him desired, still, all denoininations now enjoy equal rights and privileges. Since 1831 the Methodists have been allowed to perform the marriage ceremony, and for many years the ministers were accustomed to appropriate the fees thus received to the funds of Upper Canada Academy.
Canada owes a debt of gratitude to the United States for planting Methodism in the country. For many years, at great personal sacrifices, its ministers followed the hardy settler to his humble home. When missionaries were sent ont by the Wesleyan Missionary Society it soon became manifest that two bodies of ministers preaching the same doctrines could not work harmoniously together. To avoid such an undesirable state of things, the late Rev.John Emory, afterward Bishop Emory, was sent to the English Conference in 1820 to effect
such a settlement of matters as might prevent collision and strife. It was agreed that Lower Canada, now the Province of Quebec, should be wholly given to the English Wesleyans, and Upper Canada be left to the care of the Methodist Episcopal Church.
For some years this plan worked admirably, but, by misrepresentations sent to England, the arrangement thus entered into was broken, and soon after the Church in Canada was declared to be independent of that in the United States. Missionaries were again sent out from England, and churches were erected in opposition to each other. Methodism in Canada again presented a divided condition, but, mainly through the influence of Egerton Ryerson, a union was effected between the Wesleyan Conference in England and the Conference in Canada.
When the said union was effected it was stipulated that the naine of the Church should be “Wesleyan Methodist," instead of “Methodist Episcopal.” Instead of “Bishops,” Presidents of Conference were to be elected annually. “Chairmen of Districts” were to be no longer designated “Presiding Elders," and local preachers were not to be ordained, and were thus denuded of all ministerial functions in respect to administering the ordinances and performing the ceremony of marriage. Some dissented from the terms of the agreement with the British Conference, and indeed they claimed to be the original Methodist Episcopal Church of Canada, and contended that the unionists had by their own act given up all their Church property, which was now claimed by the dissentients. Several cases of litigation respecting Churches took place. Able counsel was employed by both parties, but it devolved mainly on the Rev. Egerton Ryerson to supply the counsel for the Wesleyan body with the necessary information. To acquire this he traveled thousands of miles and procured testimony from witnesses who could not attend the various trials. The great question on which the dissentients mainly rested their case was, that the Church had no right to change its form of government from that of Episcopacy to an annual presidency; but Dr. Fisk and others declared that "Episcopacy” is not a doctrine or matter of faith-it is not essential to the existence of a Gospel Church, but it is founded on expediency, and inay be desirable and proper in some circumstances of the