Mystery! Controversy! Conspiracy?

When I was researching John Wesley’s BCP I found a bit of a controversy. I didn’t think much of it, yet in the past there may have been some heated discussion.

The challenge comes from this: There are several variations in the bindings of the first edition. The main cause of controversy were the “Cancels” or substitute pages. The page differences are found in the original on pages 135-36, 141-44. The first pertains to the manual acts in communion. The second the sign of the cross (signation) in infant baptism. The variation is included in the Appendix of John Wesley’s The BCP.

Who changed what? Did Wesley initiate these changes? Should these pages be there or not?

The opportunity for flexibility in the binding was there because the pages were printed in London and bound in the US. The advantage of this was that each book could be customized to the need of the individual parson. Most likely this was the intent, much like in more recent times a parish ordering custom hymnals. The volumes could be an Order of Service, a Hymnal, and Discipline (with inclusion of the Minutes from the first conference). There are all different variations in bindings of the first edition. One book even had the original pages and the cancels bound in the same book.

Another good question would be “What do subsequent editions do with these pages?”

I love uncovering a mystery so I’m not going to spoil the ending for you. Instead I’ll give you a couple links to some articles covering the matter.

The first link comes from the UMC Archives & History page: The Two Versions of the First Edition of John Wesley’s The Sunday Service of the Methodists in North America. [ LINK ][ Download ]

The second link comes from the Proceedings of the Wesley Historical Society Vols. 31 – 35 (1957 – 1966) go down to issue 32.5 [LINK][Download]