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kept him from being ordained, though he fully discharged all the duties of the pastorate. His ministry proved acceptable, and the congregation increased so much as to require an enlargement of the building, which took place in 1807. Mr. Green died, much respected and beloved, November 2, 1808.
Mr. Cheatle, the present pastor, at that time settled at Castle Donnington, in Leicestershire, was invited to succeed Mr. Green, and was ordained to the pastoral office June 22, 1813, after three years' residence with the congregation. The meeting-house was again enlarged, and re-opened in December, 1832. The chapel will now seat 600 people, and has school-rooms attached to it to accommodate four or five hundred children,
There was a church of this denomination at Bromsgrove, before there was any one at Birmingham, some members of which resided here, and feeling the inconvenience of going so far to enjoy the benefits of Christian communion, began to think of the desirableness of associating and forming themselves into a separate community. To this they were encouraged by the counsel of some neighbouring ministers, who promised them their sanction and assistance. This was formally and solemnly done on August 24th, 1737, when the following ministers were present, and took part in the services of the day :-Mr. Yarrold, of Bromsgrove; Mr. Overbury, of Alcester; Mr. Mower, of Bengeworth ; Mr. Streeton, of Foxton, Leicestershire; Mr. Overbury, of Tetbury, Gloucestershire ; Mr. Belsher, of Henley-inArden; and Mr. Marston, a General Baptist minister of Birmingham.* The church at its formation consisted of seventeen members, seven of whom were men and ten women. The place of meeting for this infant society was a room in a yard in High-street. In October the same year they chose for their pastor Mr. Craner, who remained with them only about a year, when he removed to Blunham, in Bedfordshire, and afterwards to London, where he died in 1772. He published a tract on Church Government and a sermon on the Blessings of National Peace.
A benevolent deceased friend having bequeathed a sum of money to purchase a site for a meeting-house, and subscriptions having been raised for building one, a part of Guest's cherry orchard was secured for that purpose. The whole of what is now called Cannon-street, and onwards to the east, including Cherry-street, was at that time a plantation of cherry trees, the circumstance which gives to the thoroughfare just mentioned its name.
As the methodists also have a chapel in the same locality, it may be truly said that other trees are now growing there of God's own planting, bearing the fruits of righteousness which are by Jesus Christ unto the glory of God. The Cannon-street meeting-house was opened for worship in 1738. This event did not pass unnoticed; a pamphlet was published on the occasion, as we have already stated, by Mr. Bourn, minister of the New Meeting-house, entitled “A Dialogue between a Baptist and a Churchman, occasioned by the Baptists opening a new meeting-house for reviving old Cavinistical doctrines, and spreading Antinomianism and other errors at Birmingham, in Warwickshire. Part I. by a
* This is a proof that the General Baptists were the first to establish themselves in Birmingham, and that Hutton's account of the foundation of the church in Freeman-street is incorrect.
Consistent Christian." This was a most gratuitous interference with the peaceable exercise of religious freedom, and evinced the pugnacity of Mr. Bourn's disposition. Moreover, it was a misrepresentation of the doctrines then held by the Baptist body in this town, for, though they were decided Calvinists, they were not antinomians either in theory or practice. Dr. Gill replied to the pamphlet, and inflicted a severe castigation on its author. A second part of the pamphlet appeared, which also was met by a reply from the opponent of the first, and here the controversy ended. The church was several
without a minister after the opening of their sanctuary, and passed through many difficulties on that account. Their first pastor was Mr. Thomas Bennett, who remained with them but a short time, and then removed to Coventry, and afterwards to St. Albans, where it is probable he died, “He was,” say the records of the church, a zealous, godly man, very clear in the gospel, and left this world in comfortable circumstances."
After the departure of Mr. Bennet the following ministers supplied the pulpit for a short season, a Mr. Tolley from Wednesbury, and a Mr. Oulton, but neither of them became pastor, so that on August 20, 1745, the church, greatly dispirited by their frequent disappointments and long waiting for a settled pastor, passed the following resolutions :
I. “In our present destitute circumstances, a regular church meeting shall be held, at least once in two months, when some neighbouring minister shall preside, and afford us his assistance and advice.”
II. " That no step of importance be taken with respect to the settlement of the church, or the choice of a minister, without first communieating our thoughts to, and asking the advice of, at least two of the neighbouring ministers of the same denomination."
III. “That if the Jndependents will become a part of our audi, tory, and join to support our minister for the time being, they
shall be allowed to have some weight in the choice of such minister, and also to call in the assistance of a minister of their own at proper seasons to break bread unto thein."*
īv, “ That if, after a proper season of trial, no other method be found out for the settlement and establishment of the Baptist church here, we think it will be proper to dissolve our churchstate, and join to some neighbouring church that may be willing to receive us and watch over us."
I must here stop the course of the narrative to make a few remarks on these wise, simple, and affecting, though somewhat too desponding resolutions. It is impossible, even at this day, not to sympathise with the sorrows and the cries of this infant and seemingly destitute and helpless community. And yet it was too soon, disheartened as they were, to talk of dissolving. It is, however, to be recollected that ministers were not so numerous nor so easily to be obtained then as they are now. Could the veil of futurity at that moment have been lifted up to them, and all the churches that have sprung from the one they talked of dissolving have been seen in the vista, how would they have blushed over their distrust, and have exchanged their tears, of all but despair, for songs of praise.
But what specially calls for comment and eulogy is their wise determination to defer, in their exigency, to the wisdom and advice of at least two neighbouring ministers. Unhappily this is not practised in modern times so often as it should be, nor as it was in by-gone days. Modern churches, both among the Baptists and Independents, are now too wise to need, or too proud to ask, or too jealous to receive, the advice of others. How many schisms would be prevented or crushed; how many unsuitable elections would be avoided; and how many separations would never take place, if this discreet resolution of the church in Cannon-street were universally adopted! And does not the wisdom of it commend itself to the judgment of all considerate men? As regards the resolution respecting the admission of Independents to their worship, it was going as far as a strict communion church could go; the only regret is, that they could not then go a step farther, and throw open the doors of the church, and the access to the Lord's Table, to those whom they invited to their pews, and to all the other ordinances of the sanctuary. They would admit them into the Lord's house, and would even allow them to set up there a table of their own, but still would not allow thein a seat at their table : and unhappily this one step, all the light of a century, and the eloquent and forcible argumentation of their mighty Robert Hall, has not yet enabled them to take—to throw down the separation wall of their ceremonial law, and to admit Pædobaptists to the table of the Lord and the communion of saints.
* It will be obserped, by comparing dates, that this was two, years before the secession from the old Meeting, of the persons who formed the church in Carr's-lane, and who were the very persons, thus to be admitted, if they were so disposed, to form a part of the congregation in Cannon-street meeting-house,
The time of severe discipline and probation was still continued to this church, and the day when their eyes should see their teacher was postponed for four years longer yet; and the wonder is, that these tried and disappointed christians did not put their own purpose in execution, and dissolve the church. At length the day of prosperity dawned upon them, and their hope seemed about to be realized of a settled pastor; but the clouds soon again collected upon their horizon, and the darkness returned.
In the year 1751 Mr. Morley was set apart to the pastoral office over the church, after a probation of eighteen months, and was the first ordained pastor during a period of fourteen years after they were incorpo