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IN THE TWENTIETH CENTURY.

5 in many ways. But excluding events of this exceptional and revolationary character, we may take our time-telescope with confidence, and look into the state of the General Baptists at the dawning of the new century.

How changed the personnel of the Association! A new race has come to the fore, who know little of us and our work, although they have grown into strength by our deeds, and come to the places we have prepared. The preachers in India and Italy, the managers of our College, and Missions, and Magazine, the pastors and officers of our churches-indeed it is a new assembly in substance, with here and there a form and visage that link it with the gathering at Ealing of 1885. Bat we of this day will hold fast the beginning of our confidence to the end, come when it may, rejoicing in the inspiring assurance of that eminent believer and rebuker, John Ruskin, that “it is contrary to the laws of nature that any good work done with good intention should fail. But the time when it shall bear fruit is appointed by our Father in heaven.” The Lord of our lives has assigned as our task, as He will give the next generation its special work, and if we faithfully execute it, in no case disobeying His will, and bravely and clearly bearing our witness for His Son, Jesus Christ, those who in 1905 look for our memorial, will discover the divine commendation, “They did what they could."

But from conversations I have had recently with Baptists of "the other body," and letters that have reached me, I am obliged to linger a moment over the question, “Will there be a distinct General Baptist organization to fill the field of the telescope of that date ?” Is it not likely to be merged in the larger vitality of the so-called Particular Baptists, or even united with the Independents, to whom we are so closely akin? Certainly, something of this kind is possible. I accept finality in nothing human, least of all in the evolution of the religious life under the exhaustless inspirations of Christianity. I suppose it is only true to say, the Calvinism our fathers fought against is no longer able to walk uprightly, if indeed to walk at all; and certainly Pædobaptism is driven for ever from the pages of the New Testament; and therefore the ritual and theological conditions which wrought so mightily in giving us our organic shape cease to operate. Denominationalism is everywhere in a state of flux. The bases of Christian association need to be recast, and are, in fact, being recast. Our policy, in brief, is, as I have said again and again, to be ready for anion, bat to work our machinery and concentrate oor energies on our own department, as if union were known to be impossible. No debates, as in 1861 and 1862, or we shall, as then, have years of dissipated energy and marred work. Our chief solicitude should be to maintain perfect health, and so increase our efficiency, that when proposals for union come we shall be able to make the largest possible contribution to the organization with which we unite.

If our compact federation is vital in 1905, we may safely declare it will be more consolidated than it is now; the churches will be less isolated from each other ; the gifts, abilities, and property of all will be more freely and widely circulated; the weak will derive more aid

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GENERAL BAPTISTS

from the strong; the village churches will be linked together in twos, and threes, and fours, and shepherded by a pastor partly subsidized by the Association, and largely supported by a staff of willing and able lay preachers; the “Messengers" will visit the different communities with all the kindness and grace of a New Testament bishop; the “ Boards” will protect the churches from the unworthy, and guide them in difficulty; and a strong sense of living union will sway the activity of each one of our 40,000 members.

Is that all? Will there be no more radical changes in so republican a body? I think not. The memory of the imperturbable slowness of our movement during the last twenty years represses any expectation of violent or extensive changes in our associated life.

And now what about our creed" our beloved and trusted creed ?" Yes, what ? (1.) The drift in Theological thinking for the last halfcentury shows that our famous Trinity of “universalities” (the love of God to all men, the provision of Christ's sacrifice for all, and the work of the Spirit in all), will be triumphant over the whole field. The revival of particularism is an atter impossibility in our world. It cannot breathe our air. (2.) The doctrine of the Deity of Jesus may find a different setting from what it has in our “ Articles,” but the Incarnation is in the ascendant as the supreme sanctification of all our human life. (3.) The approach towards the New Testament idea of Baptism shown in the “ Note” appended to our statement of belief, will be greatly accelerated. (4.) Surely one may believe that whilst the “Articles” will still be printed from year to year in our Annual, they will find expression in twentieth-century English as well as in the obsolete language of the great Saint Dan.

On the points most fiercely in debate during these twenty years, we may be sure we shall not fail in courageous fidelity to the truth, and the whole truth of the New Testament, nor in a great love for the most strenuous intellectual activity and freedom. "Where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is liberty," and where there is liberty there is progress : progress in the interpretation of the Bible, in detaching from our minds the errors and pre-judgments of the past, in the reception of the new light that has to break forth from God's Holy Word. Who are we, that we dare to bow down to any man's exposition of Revelation, to Calvin or Arminius? Has not God made us men also ? Are we not His redeemed ones? Does not His Spirit lead us into truth? Is not the Bible given to us, and must we not search it for ourselves, and find in it a revelation to our own souls ?

In twenty years men will hold, as we do now, not the new dogma, that all the books of the Bible are of equal value, that every syllable is backed by the express authority of God; but that John's Gospel has a wealth of thought Leviticus could not possess, that the meaning of the Bible must be got at in precisely the same way as we get at that of other books, that all the books are given for ethical and spiritual ends, that they depict some characters that are despicable and some deeds to be rebuked, that they incorporate the hoary traditions in the literature of the Hebrews and of other peoples, that without endorsing

IN THE TWENTIETH CENTURY.

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the “fallible form” they give the eternal substance of truth, even the Revelation of God to men—that they all form an authentic witness to the Person, truth, doctrine and work of Christ, the Alpha and Omega of Revelation, and the Redeemer of man: that “all Scripture is given by inspiration of God," but that the most eminent proof of its inspiration is the Spirit of reverence and trust, of love and hope, of self-sacrifice and purity it infuses into those who read it.

The whole subject of “the last things” will have been recast. The notion of the personal " return of Christ—in His body, to this earth will be set back as fulfilled according to His own word in the first centary; and the future of Christianity expected will be its gradual but sure possession of the mind and life of all men. The question of the fate of those who die sunk in sensuality and soaked in selfishness will be answered in the light of the facts in the midst of which we are living—of all the facts; for they are God's facts—and men will have learnt to discriminate between “ the larger hope,” aye, even the largest hope, and the assured and well-reasoned conviction of truth; and even if they fail to read an endless doom for an endless sinning in the texts of the Bible, will discover a tendency to fixedness of character written in the hard and undeniable logic of human life that will compel them with pathetic earnestness and solemn importunity to warn men to flee from acts which themselves create “a coming wrath."

But the vision of Work—what is it? Will this brief summary of results be reported by the Secretary of 1905 ?–Missionaries doubled in India and quadrupled in Italy ; capital of the Building Fund raised to £10,000; College has sent out eighty men in twenty years aflame with the love of God and souls, thoroughly drilled in the art of speaking directly to their fellows that which they have learnt of God; the churches mould and direct the social life of all the people, and give a spiritual impact to all their movements ; Sunday schools are perfected, and three-fourths of the church members attend them; children are in “the fold,” and not simply near it; nine church members out of ten are total abstainers, and not one has any connection with “the trade.” And best of all, the Home Mission has at last ascended to its true rank. The whole of the churches having opened their eyes to the persistent folly of avoiding LONDON—London with its five millions of people, one-seventh of our entire population,—have wrought with one will for the founding of churches in the metropolis, and found it more reproductive than all their previous toil. Amongst the ten million metropolitans of 1905, we have trebled our churches, increased our members fivefold, and enriched our evangelizing associations with the means of progress to an unprecedented degree.

To what extent this New Year's vision becomes a fact depends, first upon the thoroughness of our fidelity to the Lord Jesus and to the impulses of His Spirit, and secondly upon our obedience to the fundamental denominational maxim—WHATSOEVER THY HAND FINDETH TO DO, DO IT WITH THY MIGHT; AND DO IT FORTHWITH.

John CLIFFORD.

Samuel Yobuson. A LIFE which has yielded the best of all biographies may well engage our attention at any time; but it would be unpardonable to let the centenary of Dr. Johnson Pass without a reference to his name and

fame. Born at Lichfield on the 18th September, 1709, he succumbed to the three diseases, asthma, dropsy, and seventyfive, on the 13th December, 1784.

At an early age he suffered from scrofula, or king's evil, which the touch of Queen Anne was powerless to remove. This affection not only marred his visage, and impaired his sight, but subjected him to those convulsive starts and ungainly movements which rendered his lean and lank, but afterwards burly frame, so unconth.

After proving himself

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Dame Oliver's best boy, he was whipped into further learning by Mr. Hunter, and subsequently went to Oxford. Poor as the great Hillel, he had the same passion for knowledge. He attended lectures with almost shoeless feet, and after a stay of about three years he was compelled to leave college owing to the poverty induced by the failure of his father's business.

In 1736 he married Mrs. Porter, a widow, nearly twice his own age. Shortly afterwards he determined to seek his fortune in London. For many years it was a very poor fortune indeed. But Johnson seldom grumbled. When leading the miserable life of a Grub Street hack, he found satisfaction in an eightpenny dinner; and he was never more cheerful than when walking the streets all night for want of a lodging.

SAMUEL JOHNSON.

9

Constitutionally indolent, he had always & preference for doing nothing. His first published work had to be finished in bed, and his Dictionary was so long in hand that when the printer received the last sheet, he is reported to have said, " Thank God, I have done with him." To which Johnson replied, “I am glad that he thanks God for anything.” But how manfully the great lexicographer fought down his inherited weaknesses, is plain from the amount of work he did in the period of his life of which we know the least—from twenty-eight to fifty-four; for it was between those years that he made the reputation which the crown acknowledged by a pension of £300 a year. The fact is, that when he did work he wrought intensely. His was a temperament which knew no moderation. Like a pendulum, he was always swinging to extremes. He would eat like a lion, or fast like a Pharisee. No soul could be more thirsty, and on the other hand, none could more rigidly abstain. He drank immense quantities of tea, but he had the like insatiable thirst for books. He could work all night, and he could be idle all day. He would spend any amount of time at the Mitre, or at the Club, but when necessity compelled, he would write far more than this number of the Magazine contains at a single sitting.

To the popular mind he is best known by his Dictionary, a stupendous work, which it took eight years to accomplish. As to his writings generally, they are remembered to-day, not so much by their matter as by their style—that ponderous style which made people say, he used hard words in the Rambler to make his Dictionary indispensable.

PERSONAL PECULIARITIES. Thanks to the faithfulness of Boswell, the massive frame of Johnson looms before us across the century with singular distinctness. We see his rolling gait, his twitching features, his slovenly dress, and his unpowdered wig. We hear his thundering tones, and his mighty laugh. We have presented to us all his oddities and superstitions, his trick of touching the posts as he walked along the streets, his getting into step so as to cross the threshold of a door in one particular way, rious treatment of orange peel, his strange susceptibility to everything ghostly, and his austere observance of Good Friday, on which day he would partake of tea without milk, and cross buns without butter.

his myste

TABLE-TALK,

Johnson lived by his pen, but he survives by his tongue. To see him in his element we must look in upon him at the Club. There he reigned supreme. Boswell he tossed as a bull might toss a terrier. Goldsmith tried in vain to cope with him. Burke was the only one who called forth all his powers. With him conversation meant discussion. He had strong convictions, but many a time and oft his opinions were like the early politics of Lord Macaulay, viz., the opposite of those held by the person he talked with. Notwithstanding this, he had the strictest regard for truth. His soul was as pure as his manner was rough, and it is no little thing to say that obscenity and impiety found no room in his company.

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