« PreviousContinue »
had never entered into his mind, that individuals putting down their names for sums of money should instruct the committee as to the part of the country to which their money should be appropriated. He thought that would be superseding the use of the central committee; whose great object he thought, should be to provide, or assist in providing, education in destitute districts, where congregations were not able to support schools, and where the pressure upon dissenters was most severely felt. He confessed that he did not see that any great advantage could arise from sending money to the central committee, when it was to be immediately applied to local purposes; it was merely sending money to be returned. The object would he conceived be fully unanswered, if a statement were sent to the treasurer of the amount subscribed, and the manner in which it was to be appropriated. He entirely participated in the hope expressed in the resolution, that the large amount specified would be realised within the five years. No one could imagine, that the exertions now making, would overtake the necessities of the people for years to come; there was scope for all denominations, and many years would probably elapse before they would be justified in relaxing in their efforts. He trusted that, as a denomination, they would feel the importance of making their schools, as far as possible, subservient to the diffusion of right views of ecclesiastical polity. On this subject he had always had a strong conviction, that they owed a large debt to their own principles, and to the great principles of truth and righteousness. If they neglected the opportunity of training their children in correct views of ecclesiastical polity—if they did not teach them the sinfulness, and the incompatibility with the word of God, of religious establishments--they would fail to accomplish one of the most important objects of schools of this description. He contended that they ought, in all their schools, as far as it was practicable, to give the children instruction in the principles of church government, and in the nature of the church of Christ, as well as in the nature of personal Christianity. They might gradually lead them from instruction as to what a church is, and who ought to be its members, to instruction as to the nature of Christ's kingdom, and the means which ought to be employed to extend that kingdom throughout the world. If they were true to themselves, they would produce a most important change in the electoral body of this country. By training up a large number of persons, whose opinions would eventually tell on the House of Commons, they might hasten that period, which they all regarded as necessary to the consummation of their wishes, when it would be left to the unaided efforts of Christians, to diffuse the knowledge of the truth.
The Rev. Dr. MATHESON seconded the resolution, which was carried unanimously.
J. C. Evans, Esq. was then proceeding to make a statement in reference to the Dissenters' Chapels Bill; but in consequence of the lateness of the hour, it was adjourned until the afternoon sitting.
The Rev. SAMUEL M'All, of Nottingham, having prayed, and the benediction having been pronounced by the Chairman, the Meeting adjourned to the Congrega. tional Library.
SESSION AFTER DINNER.
The meeting dined in the large room of the Congregational Library.
The Chairman proposed “ The Queen and the Royal Family,” which was loyally responded to.
The business of the Annual Meeting was then resumed.
The Rev. EBENEZER PRout, of Halstead, proposed the following resolution, which was seconded by the Rev. J. REYNOLDS, of Romsey :
“That the meeting entirely approves of holding the Autumnal Meeting of this assembly at Norwich, and has learned with great pleasure, from the Report of the Committee, the cordial willingness of the churches and their pastors in that city to receive the proposed visit of the Union. It is therefore agreed, that this assembly, at the close of its present session, shall stand adjourned for a meeting in Norwich, at such time in the month of October next, as may be arranged between the Committee of the Union and the brethren in that city."
The Rev. J. S. Russell, of Yarmouth, and Rev. J. Davis, of Denton, expressed the satisfaction felt in Norfolk, at the prospect of a meeting of the Union being held in that county.
The Rev. J. CARLILE said he felt great pleasure in moving a resolution in reference to the appointment of a Committee for the ensuing year. Having before stated his conviction, that the mode of appointing Committees admitted of improvement, he begged now to state his unbounded approval of the impartiality and fairness with which his brethren, in whose hands the matter rested, had in this instance made the nomination. He had great pleasure in moving,
“That the former Committee of the Union be re-appointed, subject to the following changes : to substitute the Rev. Messrs. Stoughton, Gilbert, and Mannering, instead of the Rev. J. Jefferson, Dr. Leifchild, and Dr. Jenkyn; and Messrs. Hugh Owen, Christopher Lund, and James Leavers, instead of Messrs. Challis, Jackson, and Stapleton.
The Rev. RICHARD FLETCHER, of Manchester, in seconding the resolution, said he was exceedingly sorry that they had not the satisfaction in prospect, of having the next autumnal meeting in Manchester; but, as had been already intimated in the correspondence with the Committee, they fully expected to have that satisfaction next year.
DISSENTERS' CHAPELS BILL.
J. C. Evans, Esq., then proceeded to introduce the resolutions of the Committee on the Dissenters' Chapels Bill. He commenced by referring to a meeting of deputies of the three denominations in the Metropolis, which had been held on the previous day. At this meeting a resolution was adopted, to which only ten individuals, four of them being Presbyterians, were opposed, recommending that petitions should immediately be presented to the House of Commons to prevent the bill from passing into a law. When the bill was first introduced into the House of Lords, it had been thought desirable to ascertain, by private interview, what was the feeling of the legislature with respect to it, and to endeavour to persuade the members not to support it. A deputation was appointed, which waited upon Sir Robert Peel They learned from him the astonishing fact that the bill was brought forward as & cabinet measure. “ We have brought it forward,” said Sir Robert, “ to prerest litigation." They then waited upon the Lord Chancellor; and he must say that the interview which they had had with his lordship, bore a very striking contrast to the speech which he delivered when moving the adoption of the bill in the House of Lords.
Nothing could be more candid, nothing more friendly, than his language to the deputation during the interview; but he must say, with regard to his speech in the House of Lords, that a speech more full of gross misrepresentation, of perversion of law, and fact, and argument, it had never fallen to his lot to hear; unless, indeed, it were the speech of Lord Brougham on the same subject. When Lord Denman was waited upon, it appeared that he was not acquainted with the provisions of the bill, and he certainly did seem open to conviction. They next went to Lord Cottenham, and found that he had pledged himself to vote for the bill. They also applied to Lord Campbell, who refused even to present their petition to the House of Lords, on the ground that he had made up his mind in favour of the bill. They endeavoured to get interviews with many other members of the House of Lords, but most of them made excuses, and up to that day they had not succeeded except in very few instances. They had had the mortification of finding that Lord Melbourne had given his vote in favour of the bill; and Lord Fitzwilliam, besides taking the same course, had made a speech, which did much to change the opinion which they had previously held of that noble lord's mind and character. No personal application had yet been made by the Committee to the Bishops in the House of Lords, although certain documents had been laid before them. The great majority of the prelates of the Church of England had, however, deemed it consistent with their duty not to oppose the bill. Thus it had passed the House of Lords, and it would that evening be introduced into the House of Commons. It was for them to consider what course it would be their duty to pursue with respect to it. He then proceeded to state briefly the provisions of the bill. It consisted of three clauses, which had originally been intended to apply only to England, but which, in going through committee, had been made applicable also to Ireland. The first clause simply stated, that in case any endowment had been granted before the Toleration Act, it should not be rendered void from the mere fact that the particular form of worship used was not lawful at the time when the endowment was created. The third clause, which was that which they felt bound to oppose, provided that in every case in which the doctrines to be taught in any chapel were not laid down in express terms, the usage of the congregation for a certain number of years, which was now fixed at twenty-five, should supersede and stand instead of the original intentions of the founder. Now it was very common for the advocates of this bill to take for granted that wberever the intentions of founders were not laid down, in express terms, they were doubtful in their nature, and could not be ascertained ; but it was a principle of English law, uniformly acted upon in courts of equity, that in all cases where the intentions of founders were not declared in express terms, they might be ascertained by those rules of interpretation to which the law had given its sanction in such cases. As the intentions of the founders could be ascertained by such rules in the present instance there was, be contended, no necessity for the bill which was then under their consi. deration. When these chapels were founded, the state of the law and historical circumstances rendered particularity in trust deeds unnecessary. In the first place, nearly all the chapels were built within ten or twenty years after the passing of the Toleration Act in 1689. It was assumed by the advocates of the bill, that they were built about the middle of last century, when Arianism and Unitarianism had gained considerable ground in this country; but the fact was, that most of them were erected during the reign of King William or Queen Anne. At that time no minister could exercise the functions of his office without subscribing the doctrinal articles of the Church of England; and they knew from Dr. Calamy, as a matter of fact, that they did sign those articles. They inferred from this, that nearly all the Presbyte. rians of that day held Trinitarian sentiments. There was, it was true, a certain degree of latitudinarianism prevailing; but it did not include Unitarians, for the law had forbidden the propagation of Unitarian doctrine under pain of severe penalties. Now he maintained that if the law provided that no man should preach until he had N. S. VOL. VIII.
declared his approbation of Trinitarian sentiments; whatever endowment was left, was left for the maintenance of Trinitarian views. Upon that principle the courts had acted in deciding that these chapels were intended for the propagation of such views. How could twenty-five years' usage be conclusive evidence of the opinions of parties who had died one hundred and fifty years ago ? The bill was brought in, in order to give certain parties a right, which they did not possess by law, and as such, it was unjust to themselves.
B. HANBURY, Esq. moved the adoption of a series of resolutions on this question, too long for insertion here, but which appears in the official minutes.
The Rev. Dr. Hewlett, of Coventry, in seconding the resolution, said, he thought they were much indebted to Mr. Evans, for the clear and lucid manner in which he had addressed them. He, for one, had never seen so much the hideous nature of the bill, as whilst listening to this able exposition, and he trusted it had had the same effect upon others.
After a short discussion, the resolution was unanimously adopted.
The Rev. J. BLACKBURN proposed a congratulatory resolution, in reference to Dr. Stewart, the Moderator of the Presbyterian Church of Ireland, which wa seconded, and briefly acknowledged.
It was moved by the Rev. ARTHUR TIDMAN, of London; seconded by the Rev. d. BLACKBURN, and adopted :
That the cordial thanks of this meeting, be presented to the Rev. Messrs. Keanedy and Shoebotham, delegates from the Congregational Union of Scotland; and to the Rev. A. King, delegate from the Congregational Union of Ireland, for their welcome presence, and valuable communications and services in the several sessions of this assembly.
Finally, it was moved by the Rev. THOMAS SMITH, A.M., of Sheffield ; seconded by the Rev. J. BLACKBURN, and cordially adopted by the meeting :
That the most cordial thanks of this Assembly, be given to its beloved Chairman, the Rev. Dr. Burder, for the impartiality and kindness with which he has presided over all its proceedings.
Dr. BURDER having briefly acknowledged the resolution, the assembly adjourned till October next, and most of its members proceeded to attend the Annual Meeting of the Colonial Missionary Society.
OPENING OF A NEW CHAPEL. The Independent Chapel, lately erected in the village of Woodham Ferris, Esses, from designs by Mr. Fenton, of Chelmsford, was opened for public worship a Tuesday, the 2nd of April, 1844. The cost of the building is estimated at £500, and has a remarkably neat and tasteful appearance. The Rev. A Reed, D.D. of London, preached in the morning, from 10th chap. of Numbers, part of 29th verse, most eloquent discourse, powerfully affecting the minds of all present. In the evening (in the lamented absence of the Rev. G. Smith, of Poplar) Mr. Robinson, of Witham, kindly consented to take his place, and preached from 1 Cor. 9th chap. 16th verse, a sermon, characterised by expansive views of truth and ministerial faithfulness. The congregations were most numerous and respectable, and the collections amounted to upwards of £50.
About 100 ladies and gentlemen sat down to an excellent dinner, at which Dr. Reed presided until his departure for town; after which, the Rev. J. Gray, of Chelmsford, occupied the chair. The afternoon was passed in hearing addresses from the ministers and gentlemen present. Thus, after the occasional ministry of the word in this village, nearly 45 years, a house for God has been erected, capable of accommodating 300 persons on the ground floor. In addition to the public means of grace, other plans of usefulness are in contemplation; and it is confidently expected, that the many hearty prayers of those present on this occasion, will be answered by increased prosperity to the infant interest. The Rev. J. Gray, E. F. Bodley, J. B. Law, E. Price (Sheerness), Jacob J. Ward (Baptist Minister of Stoke, Kent,) - Higgins, — Williams, and Mr. W. Barnes, took part in the delightful engage. ments of the day. The Rev. E. F. Bodley, of Rochford, administered the Lord's supper to the newly-formed church on the 7th inst.
ORDINATIONS, ETC. The ordination of the Rev. John Hall took place on Thursday, the 28th of March, at Crossbrook-street Chapel, Cheshunt, Herts, when the following ministers engaged in the service :--The Rev. Philip Smith, B.A. classical tutor at Cheshunt College, read the Scriptures and offered prayer; the Rev. A. J. Morris, of Holloway, delivered the introductory discourse; the Rev. M. A. Garvey, of Kentish town, asked the usual questions; the Rev. M. Jeula, of Old Gravel lane, offered up the ordination prayer; the Rev. J. Blackburn, of Pentonville, delivered the charge; and the Rev. T. Aveling, of Kingsland, preached to the people.
The ordination of the Rev. Thomas Coward, of Manchester, as pastor of the Independent church, assembling in Hatherlow Chapel, Bredbury, near Stockport, took place on Friday, April 5. The Rev. John Clunie, LL.D., of Manchester, com. menced the service, after which, the Rev. Jonathan Sutcliffe, F.A.S., of Ashtonunder-Lyne, delivered the introductory discourse, and asked the usual questions. The ordination prayer was offered by the Rev. Richard Fletcher, of Manchester; the charge to the pastor was given by the Rev. Robert Vaughan, D.D., President of the Lancashire Independent College; and the sermon to the people was preached by the Rev. James Griffin, of Manchester. The Rev. R. Kirkus, of Marple Bridge, concluded the service with prayer.
On Wednesday, April 24th, Rev. G. B. Johnson, formerly of Coward College, late of East Retford, was ordained to the pastorate over the Independent church in the town of Doncaster, York. The Rev. Thos. Stratten, of Hull, delivered the intro. ductory discourse, which was a lucid and able defence of the order of the Congre. gational ministry. The usual questions were proposed to the church and pastor by Rev. J. E. Millson, of Pontefract. Rev. W. H. Stowell, of Rotherham College, offered the ordination prayer. A very impressive charge, founded on Ilosea ix. 8, was given to the pastor by Rev. Dr. Hamilton, of Leeds. In the evening, a faithful and affectionate discourse, from 1 Cor. xvi. 10, was preached to the church and congregation by Rev. S. M'All, of Nottingham, their late beloved pastor. The devo. tional parts of the services were conducted by Rev. E. H. Delf, of Coventry, Storron, of Bantry, Beddowe, of Barnsley, M. Docker, of Melton, J. Hill, of Knottingley, and G. B. Johnson. The full attendance at each service, and the affectionate gratulations expressed, were such as to confirm the hope of future extended prosperity.
The Congregational church meeting, in Barrack-street, Bridport, have tendered a cordial and unanimous invitation to the Rev. T. Wallace, late of Petersfield, Hants, to become their pastor, which invitation he has accepted, and commenced his labours among the people on the first Sabbath in May.