Before the Loyalists

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Before the Loyalists
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BEFORE THE LOYALISTS. The growth of the Methodist church, the proceedings of whose Montreal conference have lately boon published in our columns, has been no less remarkable in Canada than in the British Isles and in the United States. Like the Presbyterian Kirk and the Church of England, is was first planted in Canada by devoted loyalists. According to Dr. Ryerson, the first men who preached the gospel, on John Wesley’s plan, in British North America were connected with the British army.—[Montreal Gazette, 18th.] As our Church of England readers are aware the Canadian Episcopate had its rise in Nova Scotia, its organization being an indirect result of the American revolution. It is worthy of note, indeed, as we had occasion to point out a few days ago, that the Church of England, like the Presbyterian and Methodist communions, established its first footing in Canada through the instrumentality of united empire loyalists.—Montreal Gazette, 19th. The Gazette is one of the most accurate of Canadian journals, but if by Canada it means the present dominion it is quite out of the way in assuming that the three churches had no footing in Canada before the loyalists came. The first men who preached the gospel in British North America on John Wesley’s plan could hardly have been soldiers and certainly were not the men whom the Gazette mentions. Unless it requires a bishop to give a church "a footing," the Church of England had a footing in the provinces more than thirty years before the loyalists came even if we take no account of army chaplains. There were church missionaries in Nova Scotia as early as the middle of the century and two at least in New Brunswick before the landing of the loyalists. The Presbyterians had a number of churches in working order before 1783. In western Nova Scotia there were several preachers located in the early New England settlements who are sometimes called Presbyterians and sometimes Congregationalists. But there is no doubt about the order of the Truro and Londonderry congregations. Truro had Presbyterian preaching and a sort of church organization as early as 1765. In 1770, when a meeting house was well under way, seven elders and forty-three adherents of the church in Truro signed a call to Rev. Daniel Cook, who became their settled pastor with a stated salary and a grant of glebe lands. Mr. Cook had been in charge of the congregation twelve years at the time of the loyalist emigration. His congregation has continued its corporate existence to this day, and during 120 years has had but four pastors, of whom the last has been but four or five years in charge. In 1770 Rev. David Smith, a Presbyterian preacher from Scotland, was settled over an organized church at Londonderry, in the same county. He remained pastor of this church twenty-five years. There was also a Presbyterian church in Halifax before the revolutionary war. Pictou had no organized Presbyterian church with a regular clergyman of that order before 1783 —though it had many Presbyterians. It had its preacher shortly after, through Scotch instrumentality. There were many Methodist societies in the lower provinces before the arrival of the United Empire Loyalists. William Black was not an ordained preacher, it is true, but he had the same status as the two hundred Methodist preachers in the British Islands. It cannot be said that Methodism established its first footing in this part of Canada through the instrumentality of the loyalists.