« VorigeDoorgaan »
the State, and to assert and to defend liberty; in short, to mould and redeem, by its all-transforming energy, everything that belongs to man, in his individual and social relations.
It was the faith of our fathers that gave us this free land in which we dwell. It is by this faith only that we can transmit it to our children, a free and happy, because a Christian, commonwealth.
We hold it to be a distinctive excellence of our Congregational system that it exalts that which is more above that which is less, important, and, by the simplicity of its organization, facilitates, in communities where the population is limited, the union of all true believers in one Christian Church ; and that the division of such communities into several weak and jealous societies, holding the same common faith, is a sin against the unity of the body of Christ, and at once the shame and scandal of Christendom.
We rejoice that, through the influence of our free system of apostolic order, we can hold fellowship with all who acknowledge Christ, and act efficiently in the work of restoring unity to the divided Church, and of bringing back harmony and peace among all “who love our Lord Jesus Christ in sincerity.”
[But] recognizing the unity of the Church of Christ in all the world, and knowing that we are but one branch of Christ's people — while adhering to our own peculiar faith and order — we extend to all believers the hand of Christian fellowship upon the basis of those fundamental truths in which all Christians (may] agree. With them we confess our faith in God the Father, the Son, and the Holy Ghost, the only living and true God; in Jesus Christ the incarnate Word, who is exalted to be our Redeemer and King; and in the Holy Comforter, who is present in the Church to regenerate and sanctify the soul.
With the whole Church, we confess the common sinfulness and ruin of our race, and acknowledge that it is only through the work accomplished by the life and expiatory death of Christ that (we) are justified before God, [and] receive the remission of sins; and (that it is] through the presence and grace of the Holy Comforter [alone that we] [hope to be] delivered from the power of sin, and (to be] perfected in holiness.
We believe also in [an] organized and visible Church, in the ministry of the word, in the sacraments of Baptism and the Lord's Supper, in the resurrection of the body, and in the final judgment, the issues of which are eternal life and everlasting punishment.
We receive these truths on the testimony of God, given [originally] through prophets and apostles, and in the life, the miracles, the death, the resurrection, of his Son, our divine Redeemer a testimony preserved for the Church in the Scriptures of the Old and New Testaments, which were composed by holy men as they were moved by the Holy Ghost.
Affirming now our belief that those who thus hold “one faith, one Lord, one baptism,” together constitute the one catholic Church, the several households of which, though called by different names, are the one body of Christ, and that these members of his body are sacredly bound to keep “the unity of the spirit in the bond of peace,” we declare that we will cooperate with all who hold these truths. With them we will carry the gospel into every part of this land; and with them we will go “into all the world, and preach the gospel to every creature.”
May He to whom “all power is given in heaven and earth” fulfil the promise which is all our hope : “ Lo, I am with you alway, even to the end of the world.” Amen.
Dea. Charles Stoddard, of Massachusetts, moved that this substitute be accepted and adopted; and also that it be placed in the hands of a committee whose duty it shall be to suggest any verbal alterations that may seem to be desirable not affecting the sense, to report before the dissolution of the Council. The motion was carried.
It was further moved that this committee be composed of one member from each State and Territory represented in the Council, and that they be chosen by ballot immediately after the preliminary exercises of the session of tomorrow morning. This motion was carried.
After prayer by Rev. Dr. Daggett, of New York, closing with the Lord's prayer, in which the Council joined, the Council adjourned with the singing of the Doxology, to meet in the Mount Vernon Church, in Boston, to-morrow at 9, A. M.
Ninth Day; FRIDAY MORNING, JUNE 23, 9 A. M. The Council was called to order by the First Assistant Moderator, Hon. C. G. Hammond, who offered prayer.
The minutes of the Council for Wednesday and Thursday were read, amended, and approved. Gov. Buckingham appeared and took the chair.
It was moved to reconsider the vote of yesterday, by which the appointment of a special committee of one from each State and Territory, to be chosen by ballot, to make needed verbal changes in the Declaration of Faith, was ordered; and the motion prevailed.
It was further moved to amend the motion thus brought back to the consideration of the Council by fixing the number of the committee at three, and changing the mode of their appointment to nomination by the Moderator and his two assistants.
Rev Mr. Allen, of Mass., asked leave to present the following protest, and that it be ordered to be entered on the minutes. And leave was granted, and the record ordered :
Standing over the ashes of the Pilgrim FATHERS, and on the summit of this Hill consecrated to their memory, I solemly PROTEST against the adoption of the paper here and now presented, as being too sectarian for their catholic spirit, and too narrow to comprehend the breadth of their principles of Religious FREEDOM.
GEO. ALLEN. Plymouth, Mass., June 22, 1865.
The following nominated by the Moderator and his two assistants appointed to be the committee to make such verbal alterations as may be needful in the declaration of faith yesterday adopted upon Burial Hill: viz., Rev. Dr. Stearns, of Massachusetts; Rev. Dr. Budington, of New York; Rev. Dr. Patten, of Illinois.
The committee to whoin was referred the paper on Ministerial Support presented the following
The Committee to whom was referred the paper submitted to this Council by the preliminary committee, through its chairman, Rev. George Shepard, D. D., on the subject of " Ministerial Support,” have had the same under careful consideration, and beg leave to report it back to this body with their cordial approval, and with the recommendation that it be adopted by the Council, and that at least ten thousand copies be printed, (if within the province of the Council so to do,) and circulated among our churches, as an approved compendium of the relative duties existing between pastor and people.
EDWARD D. HOLTON,
DAVID S. WILLIAMS,
This report was accepted and adopted.
Cleveland, Ohio, June 22, 1865. To the Moderator of the Congregational Council :
The Convention of Non-Episcopal Methodists, in session at Cleveland, send their fraternal greetings to the Congregational Council at Boston.
W. H. BREWSTER,
The following reply was sent by them ; viz.: To the Moderator of the Convention of Non-Episcopal Methodists, at Cleveland, Ohio,
care of Rev. A. B. Knight:
The National Council of Congregational Churches, standing upon the basis of Christian union and of catholicity in faith, cordially responds to the fraternal greeting of the Convention at Cleveland.
W. A. BUCKINGHAM,
JOSEPH P. THOMPSON. Boston, June 23, 1865.
The committee to whom was referred the resolution on a Congregational House reported as follows:
First. The Desirableness of a Congregational House. Without attempting to present an exhaustive statement on this point, we would call attention to a few considerations.
(1.) A Congregational House is rendered desirable by the necessities of the Congregational Library.
(a.) The American Congregational Association have already in their possession a library of over five thousand bound volumes, and over fifty thousand unbound pamphlets, many of them exceedingly rare, and most of them of great value as illustrative of Puritan history, and of the faith and polity of the Puritan churches.
This library, as it is now situated, is liable any day to be consumed by fire; and it is an imperative necessity, which as Congregationalists we cannot fail to appreciate, that this treasury of knowledge should have a safe place of deposit.
(b.) There are many individuals who have carefully selected private libraries, or at least a few books, of special historic interest, and pamphlets rescued from the paper-mill, that great foe to antiquarian researches, who would gladly contribute them to the American Congregational Association, if a fire-proof building were furnished to guarantee their permanent preservation.
Thus, in a few years, this library could be made richer in ecclesiastical literature than any other in our land.
We owe it to our own denomination to provide a place where those who love our order, and possess relics of the Fathers, may come and present their gifts.
(2.) Again, a Congregational House is rendered desirable as the means of increasing our devotion to our own denomination.
We all know, our Western brethren feel, that we have not properly discriminated between sectarian zeal and denominational interest. In avoiding the former, we have neglected the latter. The American Congregational Association desires, by procuring essays and lectures on questions of a denominational character, to promote our appreciation, as a branch of the Church of Christ, of our distinctive peculiarities; and they would be greatly aided in this work by a house in which such essays may be read and lectures delivered.
(3.) We need a place where those societies which are doing the work of our denomination may have their centers of operations, whether they make provision for the feeble Churches, publish theological works for ministers, Sabbath-school books for children, or tracts for the congregations.
(4.) We need a home to which, as Congregationalists, we may resort.
This city, as the home of our Fathers, is endeared to us by the most sacred associations - the most hallowed memories. It is on this account that we are convened here on the present momentous occasion.
We need a home here to which we can repair, not as a Council once in a century, but as individual members of the Congregational family, as often as God in his providence shall favor us with the opportunity.
Such a home will give “a local habitation” to what might otherwise have only “ a name.” It will serve to promote union among the churches of our order in this city, and thus strengthen the denomination where it was first established. It will give fresh interest to our anniversaries. It will also promote union between the East and West. It will enable the sons of the Pilgrims, the adopted sons, and the sons-in-law, when they come from their distant homes, to rekindle the torch at the old fireside, and bear forth its light to any Egyptian provinces where they may be called to sojourn.
It may, in this connection, be well to call to mind that the erection of such an edifice by us will be nothing peculiar.
The Presbyterians, of both assemblies, have such houses in Philadelphia; the Methodists in New York; and our Congregational brethren in England have just raised by subscription two hundred thousand pounds sterling, as their bi-centennial fund, out of which, among other objects important to their denomination, they propose to erect such a building, for purposes similar to those which we contemplate, with the title of the “ Memorial Hall.” It will be a happy circumstance if we can have such a memorial, not only of the Fathers, but of the meeting of our present National Council.
Second. The Agency for the erection of a Congregational House.
We have no occasion for any new organization. The American Congregational Association, incorporated in 1854, under the title of the Congregational Library Association, which name was changed in 1864, is authorized to hold property to the amount of $300,000, and “ to do such acts as may promote the interest of Congregational churches, by publishing works, by furnishing libraries and pecuniary aid to parishes, churches, and Sabbath Schools, by promoting friendly intercourse and coöperation among Congregational ministers and churches, and with other denominations, and by collecting and disbursing funds for the above objects.”
This society, already in the field, is everything, so far as respects an agency to secure a Congregational House, which could be desired.
Third. What has already been accomplished.
The American Congregational Association have at the present time property in real estate to the amount of about $10,000, and have recently secured a subscription of $20,000 in Boston and vicinity towards the erection of a Congregational House; and such is the facility with which this has been accomplished, that the conviction is expressed that it will not be difficult to secure an increase of this subscription, in this city and vicinity, to $50,000.
Fourth. The plan proposed.
It is thought that $100,000 will be needed for this object, and it is suggested that, should the subscription in this city and vicinity be increased to $50,000, the remaining $50,000, should be secured chiefly from Massachusetts, or at least New England.
(1) It may be objected to this proposition that the raising of this amount of money for this object will interfere with the raising of the $750,000 already proposed for other objects. To which we reply, that the raising of the $750,000 proposed is not so formidable as at first appears, for we have been accustomed to raise large sums for the American Home Missionary Society and the American Missionary Association, and something also for the American Congregational Union. And the past year we have raised a very large amount for the Freedmen; and as the $750,000 includes the objects of all these societies, the portion of the $750,000 which is over and above what we have been accustomed to raise is not appalling.
Again, as the Congregational House is designed to conserve and foster an interest in our own denomination, its erection will be the means of rendering it easier in the end to raise money for other denominational purposes.
(2) It may be objected that the existence of such a house will involve continued annual expenses; but this it is estimated will be met in part, or entirely, by the rents which such a building will yield. With the understanding that the money shall be raised chiefly from persons in New England, and particularly in Massachusetts, who are able to contribute large sums, and that the Congregational House shall not be a “ House of Bishops," nor the source of a centralized power for the control of Congregational bishops or churches, but a home for all the brethren, to form or renew acquaintance, promote Christian fellowship, and the interests of the great denominational family to which we belong, we commend the American Congregational Association and its enterprises to the confidence and cooperation of our churches. (Signed)