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The Ecclesiastical Observer.
A WORD TO OLD FRIENDS.
EAR after year we have been permitted to address you, with best wishes, at the time of the passing away of the old year. The British Harbinger which last January greeted you, bore on its cover the words 66 FIFTH SERIES : VOL. XXIII." To-day we present an Old Friend under a New Name. But most certainly our work and purpose are not new. The old work has to be done and the old purpose faithfully carried out. We are set for the defence of the Faith once delivered to the saints. Our exposition of Apostolic Christianity and our plan for a complete return to the Primitive Faith and Order-which have ever been kept in foremost position-will still be found the leading thought in every issue. Change of title has been considered desirable; change of style comes as a necessity and an advantage; change of form may follow after another year; but our purpose and thorough devotion to the good old ways must know no change.
Some correspondents are at a loss to determine whether certain communications which have been hitherto acceptable will find a place under the new arrangement. The answer is clear and simple. No class of contributions formerly received will be excluded; there is still room for each to be represented. The proportion, in certain particulars, will be otherwise than formerly, and other minor changes will be needful; but Prose and Poetry, Reviews and Criticisms, Items of Intelligence and Comments thereon, Christian Evidence and Attacks upon Christianity, Open Council and Family Room, will all have their place—perhaps not every month, but so often and in such proportion as the cause we plead may require. The leading change will appear in that "the larger portion" of each issue will relate to current events, in the form of Record or Comment. Of course we shall not seek to embrace all topics, but confine our attention to those which bear directly upon the Church, the Bible, and the religious condition of the peoples. In this wide field the help of our readers is invited.
The present number directs attention to deeply important questions. "The Spirit of the Nineteenth Century and Creeds" is a well-written article, which should be pondered in this day of unrest by every anxious believer.
Observer, Jan. 1, '71.
Wisely directing us to the Bible and away from the creeds, it points also to the only road by which we can obtain deliverance from the confusion resulting from false interpretation.
"Report on Union of Churches."
Under this heading will be found remarkable statements, clearly showing that the principles pleaded in our past volumes are laying hold of people, so as to produce, ere long, their legitimate results.
The Cry for Union," read in connection with the foregoing, will show that Presbyterians on both sides of the Atlantic are considerably exercised in the same direction. In America they have the clearer insight, but here they have greater difficulties to contend against, They cannot come right by one step-at least not by one that they can at present take. But the present is preparatory to the future, and their changes will bring them nearer to Primitive Christianity, and when thus nearer they will see and desire more.
"Disciples of Christ and Baptists." Every Baptist should read and ponder the address of the disciples of Ohio to their Baptist brethren. The whole transaction is pleasing, and the address itself is replete with sound statement.
But we must close, not because other articles do not deserve like passing notice, but in view of claims upon our space.
READER! Receive our best wishes for a good, a useful, and a most HAPPY NEW YEAR.
THE LIBERATION SOCIETY IN BIRMINGHAM.
A MEETING of leading Nonconformists of Birmingham and district was held on the 15th ultimo at Carr's Lane Chapel, Birmingham, in connection with the Liberation Society, to confer upon the forthcoming campaign for the separation of Church and State.
Mr. Carvell Williams, the Secretary of the Society, addressed the meeting, giving much valuable information concerning the movements, Parliamentary and otherwise, of the Society, which afterwards formed the subject of discussion by those present at the conference.
The principal movement to which he called the attention of the meeting was that Mr. Miall, M.P., would, in the next session of Parliament, move a resolution to disestablish the Churches of Scotland, England, and Wales. The motion is to be seconded by a member of the Church of England. A resolution approving of such a course was proposed by Mr. Chamberlain, a leading Liberal, seconded by Rev. G. B, Johnson, and carried unanimously.
The Secretary of the Liberation Society gave a sketch of its history and the principal liberation movements during the late sessions in Parliament, remarking that the disestablishment of the Church of Ireland was recognised by the Church party as part of the plans of the Liberation Society. Notwithstanding the "lover's quarrel" between Mr. Miall and Mr. Gladstone, the party were still of opinion, and the course of events bore them out, that both the Premier and leading Liberals would, ere long, advocate the necessity of the measure, both for the sake of the Church itself (torn with internal divisions) and in the interests of truth and justice to the nation at large.
The policy of the Society is to be carried out by educating public opinion, by lectures, the circulation of a million of tracts and pamphlets,