« ПредыдущаяПродолжить »
of the present condition and tendencies of the various religious denominations of England, and pointed out faithfully and vigorously the duties thereby devolving on Christian Unitarians. The statements and appeals were listened to with deep interest and earnest attention. They told of dangers to Christian belief, profession, and action, they spoke of obligations, of peculiar responsibilities which could not be shifted or put aside by those who would prove themselves faithful and true to the Gospel of Christ, their own consciences, human rights, improvement, freedom, salvation.
In the afternoon, the friends assembled in the Chapel to receive the Report of the Committee of the Association. The Rev. J. McDowell, of Stockton-on-Tees, gave out a hymn and engaged in prayer. Mr. George Brown, of Barnard Castle, was afterwards unanimously invited to preside, and after a few remarks on the nature of the meeting, and the purposes of the Association, called on the Secretary to read the Report. It commenced with referring to the deaths of esteemed and honoured coadjutors in the Committee, which had intervened since the last anniversary, and the priceless consolations of Christ and Christianity amidst the privations of death; took a passing reminiscence of the preceding annual meeting, and the honoured and respected individuals who then spoke forth the words of Christian truth and soberness; and noticed the correspondence on American slavery consequent on the paragraph relating to it in the Third Annual Report. The objects of the Association were stated as two-fold: tract distribution and Missionary preaching. Tracts had been given to more than forty congregations, or individuals, for distribution in Northumberland, Cumberland, Durham, Westmoreland, North Yorkshire, Scotland, amounting to 5739. The Report went on as follows:
"In connection with the Tract department, great difficulties and delay were experienced this year, as in former years, in obtaining many of the works which were required. Most praiseworthy exertions were made by Mr. John Mardon, of Ely Place, London, to overcome these difficulties; but their existence indicates a state of things which ought not to continue. It is equivalent to a prohibition of the sale of publications advocating Unitarian Christianity. This is a matter which the Committee of the British and Foreign Unitarian Association are competent to right, and which claims their prompt and vigorous efforts for its proper and adequate arrangement. In transmitting the annual subscription of £5 from this Association, the Secretary stated the views of the Committee on this subject, and urged their consideration and action. At the same time he also pressed on the attention of the Committee of the Parent Institution the employment of extensive Missionary operations, as of essential importance in these times, and the altered circumstances and feelings of the people of this country, to the increased diffusion of
Christian truth and righteousness, and as carrying out the original purposes of the Association.
"Of the Missionary operations of their own Society, the Committee would gladly have to report more largely. They believe such efforts to be of incalculable utility, in awakening inquiry, dispelling prejudice, spreading information, guiding to truth and duty, imparting consolation, peace, and happiness to numbers, whose minds and hearts the current theology has rendered dark, and stagnant, and hopeless. They believe the times are propitious to such agency, and that it would effect much for human well being. At Alnwick it has certainly been productive of good in many ways. In the course of the past year Mr. Harris has visited that town eight times, and on almost every occasion has preached to considerable audiences, on some evenings to a large attendance. Those visits have enabled him to offer Christian consolation to afflicted friends, to honour the memory of the righteous dead, to uphold the truth in Christ Jesus, to vindicate the character and dispensations of the Infinite Father, to expose the ignorance and misrepresentation of the gainsayer, and to build up the brethren in faith and godliness. These were actual present influences and results; it may be that seeds have been sown, bread of life cast upon the waters, that may spring up after many days, to man's happiness, to God's glory."
Sunderland and Malton were then noticed, and the labours of the Rev. M. C. Frankland at Oxclose and Barton, as well as at the places in which he statedly preaches, Wellburn and Malton. It proceeded thus:
"Friends in Barnard Castle, Gilling, Wensleydale, and Sunderland have given services in various localities, and the Committee would have had pleasure in dwelling on particular details had they been furnished. It is their hope that increased union and co-operation may bring nearer together those who are like minded in Christ, that the practicable may take precedence of the theoretical; and that, looking on the mass of ignorance, error, scepticism, superstition, bigotry, and infidelity unhappily so prevalent, and the wretchedness, vice, and misery they so frequently induce, minor differences may be merged in united effort to spread abroad that knowledge of God and of his Christ, which is present peace and eternal life.
"It seems to the Committee that the Missionary purposes of this Association should be carried out more vigorously and extensively. They would gladly, with the assistance of friends in different places, construct a Missionary Circuit, if labourers will offer, and if funds be forthcoming. They are persuaded the times are apt. There is a yearning for truth and freedom, for vital and practical Religion, in many hearts, which know not where to seek their light, and peace, and consolation. The duty of upholding the truth in Christ Jesus is imperative on the Christian Unitarian. There might be a Mission Circuit in connection with each Congregation, in which the Minister
and Lay Brethren might co-operate most effectively; there might be a Missionary District, combining all these into active and effectual union for good. What hinders the setting on foot these instrumentalities in the diffusion of Christian truth and righteousness? There is no lion in the path, if the will be there. Let the coming year witness both the will and the way, the design and its accomplishment. "The Quarterly Meetings of the Tract and Missionary Society have not been attended as they should have been. The Committee cannot account for the lack of interest which is manifested in their recurrence; they deplore it as an evil which calls for remedy. The attendance of all is wished who desire the spread of Gospel truth, or are anxious for Christian fellowship and communion. In connection with the Missionary plans which have been suggested, the transference of these Quarterly Meetings to other portions of the district contemplated in the sphere of the Society's operations, would seem desirable. By holding them in different places points of union might be formed, from which useful influences might radiate to surrounding spots, and conjoint efforts be thereby matured and carried out, more readily than by their repetition, with the celebration of the Anniversary, at one town only. The coming year may probably witness arrangements of this nature, which may happily be conducive to more extensive good."
The substance of the replies of Correspondents to the circular addressed to them by the Secretary, was given from Alnwick, Arkindale, Barnard Castle, Rothbury, Gilling, Darlington, Morpeth, Sunderland, Chirton, South Shields, Stockton-on-Tees, Malton, and Wellburn, West Burton, Wensleydale, Kendal, Shildon, Newcastle-upon-Tyne, &c. They were of varied interest, yet nearly all concurring in the desirableness and urgency of Missionary labour.
The Treasurer's Report presented details of income from anniversary collection, annual subscriptions, &c., amounting to £50 17s. 3d.; of expenditure, including balance against the Society at the preceding anniversary, £1 14s. 7d., of £3714s. 11d. leaving present balance in favour of the Association of £13 2s. 3d. The Report thus closed, "Such are the details which the Committee have to submit to the Members and Friends of the Association. They indicate no brilliant success, they speak of no marvellous conversions. They tell but of humble and unpretending effort, they betoken the day only of small things. Yet may the little leaven ferment the whole mass, and the minute seed become a luxuriant plant. To sow in hope is Christian duty, to labour earnestly is Christian privilege. În faith and trust be that labour continued, be it increased. To procrastinate when duty calls, is sinfulness. Whilst waiting the more convenient season, Life is wearing way. "Whatsoever thy hand findeth to do, do it with all thy might," is Scripture precept, and improvement, usefulness, honour and happiness are the results of its observance." The Rev. J. Mc Dowell moved the adoption, approval, and printing of the Report, and Mr. Revely of Newcastle seconded it. The Committee for the ensuing year was proposed and seconded by Mr.
James Clephan of Gateshead, and Mr. Landells of Alnwick. Cordial approval of Missionary labour and authorization of the Committee to prosecute it vigourously, in the various districts, in the future, was moved by Mr. Stott of Alnwick, and seconded by Mr. Braithwaite of Sunderland. The special thanks of the Association to Mr. Harris for his labours, proposed by Mr. M. W. Lambert of Newcastle, and seconded by Mr. Revely, as also similar testimony of respect to Mr. Brown as Chairman, moved by Mr. Harris, and seconded by Mr. Clephan, passed as did the other motions, unanimously. The meeting was closed by Mr. McDowell, with the Lord's prayer and benediction.
In the Evening a large audience assembled in the Chapel, when Mr. Gordon again conducted the whole of the services, preaching from Colossians I. 15. The person, character, and work of Christ were pourtrayed with powerful and Scriptural truthfulness and simplicity and earnestness, and monitions to work out Christ imitation were enforced with truly Christian unction, and could not fail of making a vivid, and, we trust, abiding moral and spiritual impression. The collection, £13 14s. 7d.
On Monday afternoon the members and friends of the Association assembled in the Music Hall, Nelson Street. Every arrangement had been admirably made for the reception, accommodation, and comfort of the company. Profusion of flowers and verdant foliage everywhere met and cheered the eye. Thirty young men of the Hanover Square Congregation, acted as Stewards. Notwithstanding the occurrence of circumstances which rendered the attendance of many valued friends impossible, fully three hundred individuals were seated at the tables. On the motion of Mr. Harris, the Mayor of Newcastle was called by acclamation to the chair, and Mr. Brown of Barnard Castle, Vice-President. The Rev. M. C. Frankland of Malton, offered prayer, and after tea the company joined in thanksgiving by singing a hymn. The Mayor briefly addressed the meeting, and proposed "The Religion of love, of power, and of a sound mind," enumerating many of the Christian worthies who had advocated its purity, despite of persecution, imprisonment, expatriation and wordly sacrifice. The Vice-President replied in some excellent observations illustrative of the sentiment, and pregnant with the Christian spirit. The Tract and Missionary Society "with increase to its members, its agencies, and its usefulness," was given by the Chairman, who called on Mr. Harris to respond, as Secretary of the Association. His appeal on its behalf was followed in the course of the evening, by the enrolment of thirty-six new annual Subscribers, and the proffer by several previous members, of considerably increased subscriptions, if a Missionary could be procured. "Civil and Religious Liberty all the world over" was afterwards proposed by the Chair
Mr. Harris brought before the meeting the claims of Mr. Gordon to heartfelt welcome, honour, and regard, and amidst cheers which showed the response they drew from the hearers, proposed in earnest and eulogistic terms, "Our respected Friend and Preacher, cordial welcome to this Association, honour for his conscientiousness, thankfulness for his valuable and truly Christian services of yesterday, earnest wishes for his continued and increasing usefulness and happiness, the Rev. John Gordon of Coventry." Mr. Gordon addressed the meeting in a very powerful and animated
manner, dwelling on the principles, the duties and opportunities for usefulness, appertaining to Christian Unitarians; the perils to which they were exposed, by adverse influences, the advantages which they should seize on and employ, the favourable circumstances which were rising up, and the duty of embracing their instrumentality for the diffusion of the truth, liberty, and love of the uncorrupted Gospel of the grace of God. The address could not but be powerfully conducive to good.
Fruit was placed upon the tables by the Stewards, and after some brief interval the Mayor called on Dr. Hayle, of Newcastle, who in very felicitous phraseology and illustration, spoke to the sentiment, Piety at Home, the source of happiness to families, of peace to individuals, of fervency of spirit in the Christian Temple." The Rev. M. C. Frankland of Malton was then introduced to the welcome of the assembly by Mr. Harris, as the faithful pastor and the Christian advocate, a workman who needed not to be ashamed, and hearty welcome greeted him on his rising to propose, and during his truly excellent remarks on, "The Missionary spirit, the spirit of Christ; the spirit by which the waste places are to be reclaimed, the ignorant enlightened, the vicious brought back to virtue, error uprooted and Christian truth diffused." Mr. C. Burney of Gateshead spoke very ably to "The Sunday School, increase to its Labourers, a still wider sphere, and higher aim to its instrumentality." He noticed the miserable ignorance so prevalent, urged the duty of its removal, dwelt on the privilege of aiding this holy work, paid a tribute of respect to the memory of a lately deceased coadjutor in this labour, Mr. T. I. Proctor, and called on all who could, to participate in similar efforts to spread knowledge and virtue. Rev. J. McDowell, in speaking to the sentiment "The honoured and righteous dead," dwelt on the gratitude owing to the forefathers of Protestant Nonconformity, and our duty whilst cherishing and acting up to the principles of individual judgment and Christian liberty, to emulate their virtues, and do in our day the work befitting us, as they in the old time were faithful to theirs. Mr. Guthrie of Newcastle addressed the meeting on "Adult evening schools, thankfulness for their past exertions and success, continuance and multiplication of their agency for human good," detailing the effort made in the past year for this object in connection with the Christian Brethren place of meeting, Hanover Square congregation, and Gateshead. Mr. Gordon was commissioned to propose a sentiment not in the Mayor's list, but which duty claimed to be given, and which their acceptance would prove to be heartfelt. laborious and highly esteemed Secretary of this Society, the Rev. George Harris. Honor and thanks to him for his unwearied efforts in the cause of Christian truth and benevolence, and long may he be spared to bless the Congregation with which he is here connected, by his pastoral aid, and to diffuse, in connection with this Association, the cheering influences of pure Christianity throughout the North of England." Mr. Gordon expatiated on the sentiment very warmly, and it was received as heartily as it was proposed. Mr. Harris responded, dwelling on the means of congregational usefulness, the essential importance in the building up of a truly Christian church, of union of effort, sympathy of purpose, personal aid in all the institutions, diligent use of outward instrumentalities, faithful cherishment of inward yearnings for the good and the true, the re