« VorigeDoorgaan »
goodness toward them through the first century of their existence. The result was a determination to add a chapel to the school rooms already erected on the site in Heneage-street. By the joint contributions of the churches in Cannon-street and Bond-street this purpose was effected, and the building erected at a cost of more than £4000. The foundation-stone was laid by Mr. Knibb, in 1840, whose name will ever stand in most honourable association with the Baptist mission and the emancipation of our slaves in the West Indies. The chapel was opened for divine service in 1841. Soon after this Mr. Roe, the present minister, commenced his labours, which have ever since been prosecuted with great success, as is evident from the following statistics. “ Seven hundred members have been added since Mr. Roe commenced his labours, and there are 613 now in fellowship. There are eight deacons--20 class leaders -six local preachers-1200 children, adults, and teachers in the day and Sabbath schools, a young man's mental improvement society—and more than 30 religious meetings held in the district weekly."
This is an extraordinary amount of successful labour, and shews wbat, under the blessing of God, may be accomplished by the erection of one place of worship and the energy of one earnest minister.
THE CIRCUS CHAPEL, BRADFORD-STREET. Great praise is due to the Baptist denomination in Birmingham for their public spirit and liberality in the erection of places of worship in their own town. We have just related their efforts in Heneage-street; we have now to mention another in Bradford-street. It would seem as if the building of amphitheatres, as they are called, were not a very good speculation among the
caterers for the public in regard to amusements. Liverystreet chapel was built for this species of entertainment, and we have now to direct attention to a second transmutation of a place of this description into a house for God. At the bottom of Bradford-street stands what was Ryan's amphitheatre, but what is now a Baptist chapel. A wealthy and generous individual connected with the Cannon-street congregation, aided by others, and especially by the counsel, energy, and co-operation of Mr. Roe, of Heneage-street, purchased this building, and had it altered and arranged for the service of God. It was opened for worship in 1848; and there, where multitudes were wont to assemble to witness feats of agility and low buffoonery, hundreds now meet weekly to hear the glad tidings of salvation, and from lovers of pleasure to become lovers of God. This spirited effort had the sanction and patronage of an influential body of Christian men connected with the congregations assembling in Cannon-street, Bond-street, and Graham-street chapels; and it received the pecuniary support of many persons of other denominations.
Among the hearers at the Circus chapel is an individual now officiating as door-keeper, who formerly acted as the priest of Momus in the character of the clown. This chapel is yet unsupplied with a minister.
THE CHURCH OF THE SAVIOUR. This large and elegant place of worship was erected by his friends, for Mr. Dawson, when he resigned the pulpit of Graham-street chapel, and is filled by a respectable congregation drawn together by his talents as a public instructor. Mr. Dawson is a graduate of the University of Edinburgh: he came to Birmingham in the year 1844, as a Baptist minister, and succeeded in soon raising a large congregation, most of whom followed him to his present place of worship, which was opened in 1847. Mr. Dawson has established a high and an extensive reputation as a public lecturer, and is generally listened to with great admiration by large audiences whom his fame never fails to collect, whether he deliver his instructions in the metropolis or in the provinces. He published the sermon which he delivered at the opening of his chapel, which is entitled “ The Claims of the Age upon the Church,” and also an Inaugural Address delivered at the formation of the Eclectic Society.
LADY HUNTINGDON'S CHAPEL, PECK-LANE. I preface the account of this sanctuary with the following brief history of that distinguished woman whose name it bears, and which is transferred from the pages of my work, entitled “ The Church in Earnest.”
Selina, Countess of Huntingdon, was from a child of a grave and serious disposition, and maintained, amidst all the elegance and gaiety of Donnington Park, a devout turn of mind. She was, however, for a long time labouring hard to establish her own righteousness; till by conversation with Lady Margaret Hastings, a near relative on her husband's side, she received the knowledge of justification by faith. Whitfield and Wesley were then in the midst of their labours and the zenith of their popularity and usefulness. Lord and Lady Huntingdon immediately patronized the new doctrine, and were the followers of Whitfield wherever he preached. Connected by her rank with nobility, and by her habits with literary men, wits, poets, and statesmen, what decision, fortitude, and even heroism it required, not stealthily and by night, but boldly in the face of day to connect
herself with the sect everywhere spoken ill of, and ridieuled as a band of ignorant fanatics. Such qualities were possessed by the subject of this sketch. She became to a certain extent the patroness of the despised preacher at the Foundry. Her saloon was thrown open to his preaching, where Lord Chesterfield, the high priest of the god of fashion, Lord Bolingbroke,
and peeresses, would not unfrequently be found at her ladyship’s solicitation, listening to Whitfield, then appointed to be her chaplain. It was while this great man was on a visit to Lady Huntingdon's seat, at Ashby-de-la-Zouch, that the Tabernacle in London was planned, and chiefly at her instigation. By this time, her fortune, never very large, and her influence, which was much greater, were both put in requisition to meet the expence of the erection of the Tabernacle, Tottenham Court chapel, and other places of worship. Mr. Berridge of Everton, Mr. Rowland Hill, Mr. Matthew Wilkes, and all others of their style of preaching, whether in or out of the Church of Eng. land, became her protegés. She was still professedly a member of the Established Church, but loved the gospel and all who preached it, infinitely more than she did the Church. Lay-freaching and out-of-door preaching met with her entire concurrence and liberal support. Chapels now were engaged by her, wherever she could obtain them, to the full extent of her means : and it was her special delight to buy theatres, when they were to be obtained, and so turn those places into houses for saving souls, which had been formerly employed for destroying them. Wherever a revival of religion took place in the Establishment, or in any other denomination, her influence was sure to be engaged.
"After studding the land with chapels, supplying them with ministers, and supporting them in many cases from her own purse, she aimed at nobler game, and established a college at Trevecca, in South Wales, for the education of ministers; and I have lying before me, at this moment, a list of the names of ministers, and many of them of considerable celebrity, amounting to one hundred and twenty-five, who were educated in this seminary. When the lease of the premises at Trevecca expired, the college was removed to Cheshunt, Herts, where it now continues under the able presidency of Dr. Harris : and already have nearly two hundred ministers been educated for the preaching of the gospel, in that seat of holy and general literature. A religious connexion was formed, which bore, and which still bears, the name of this distinguished lady. Her personal exertions in these works of faith and labours of love, were unbounded. She lived for nothing else. Rank, fortune, and influence were valuable in her eyes only as they enabled her to glorify God, advance the kingdom of Christ, and save immortal souls. All she possessed she consecrated to the Redeemer of the world, and his cause on earth. She kept no state, she incurred no expence, in order that she might give all to the Saviour. She was often involved in considerable difficulties for want of money, not like many of the nobility to meet her debts for gambling or extravagance, but for buying or erecting chapels. Having determined to erect a place of worship at Brighton, and being at the time rather straightened for money, she came to the noble resolution of selling her jewels, and with the produce, amounting to nearly seven hundred pounds, she built the chapel in North-street, in that town, now occupied by the Rev. Joseph Sortain. This was one of the most interesting sacrifices of vanity ever made at the shrine of religion.