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How truly may it be said of that place of Christian worship, only with an alteration of the future, into the past time, 'I have laid thy stones with fair colours, and thy foundations with sapphires, and I have made thy windows of agates, and thy gates of carbuncles, and all thy borders of pleasant stones.'
"Such was Lady Huntingdon. How correctly has it been said by her biographer, 'The value of such a life can never be ascertained till the heavens and the earth be no more; and when temporal happiness and misery shall have vanished like the illusion of a dream, thousands, and tens of thousands, will be thankful that she lived so long, the faithful servant of God, and the happy instrument of their conversion.'
To this may be added an extract from "The Life and Times of Selina, Countess of Huntingdon, by a member of the Houses of Shirley and Hastings."
"Not long after the opening of St. Mary's chapel, Lady Huntingdon sent some of her students to Birmingham, and other places in the neighbourhood. In process of time, a congregation was raised, and a chapel. opened in Paradise-street, in which many of the early ministers in the connexion proclaimed the unsearchable riches of Christ, and were heard with deep and earnest attention. Some years after, her Ladyship purchased the old play-house, and sent the Rev. John Bradford, formerly of Wadham College, Oxford, to preach in it. This gentleman was curate of Frelsham, in Berkshire; and, soon after he began to preach the gospel, paid a visit to Bath, where he attempted for the first time, to preach without notes.
“On my return (says he) from Bath, I found the church shut againt me, and a letter from Lady Huntingdon, from whom I afterwards received many favours,
and more spiritual edification than from all the books I ever read, or all the preaching or conversation I ever heard.'
Mr. Bradford was at this time extremely popular, and his ministry was usually attended by very great crowds. The following extract of a letter, relative to the converting of the play-house into a place of worship, deserves to be recorded:
"One thing (says the writer of it) I well recollect, and which I certainly never shall forget for the singularity of it, which is this:-When the play-house was first purchased by her Ladyship, a pulpit was erected upon the front of the stage, in which Mr. Bradford used to preach. People used to go into the boxes, pit, and gallery, as usual, to hear him, and also upon the stage; and it generally was pretty full, sometimes crowded. The people used to hear with great attention; and whenever any thing was spoken by Mr. Bradford which the people approved, and considered as solid argument or genuine religion, built upon the Rock of Ages, and consistent with the revelation of the Bible, they immediately clapped hands for a short time, as at a play! Mr. Bradford submitted, and held his peace till they had done, and proceeded as calmly as if nothing had happened. This was repeated several times during the discourse; it continued for some time, till the people became more serious, and it was properly converted into a meeting.'
"The theatre was soon changed to a chapel, and has since been supplied by the ministers in Lady Huntingdon's connexion. The late Mr. Bennet, who was educated at Trevecca, was minister of this place for many years. The present minister is the Rev. John Jones, from Cheshunt College."
The lease of the chapel in King-street having expired, the congregation for several reasons not choosing to renew it, preferred the erection of a new place, which they effected by building the present chapel in Pecklane this, however, is about to be taken down, being included in the site selected for the new station of the London and North Western Railway; and in what part of the town this congregation may erect their future place of worship is at present unknown.
WOOD-STREET, ST. THOMAS'S DISTRICT.
In the year 1842 a small place of worship was erected in Peck-lane, contiguous to Lady Huntingdon's chapel, and chiefly by the influence of Mr. Jones, for the use and service of the natives of the Principality, many of whom were unable to understand the English language, or not sufficiently to profit by the public instructions of the pulpit. A considerable accession was made to the Welch inhabitants of our town at the time of the building of the Town Hall, which being constructed of Anglesey marble, required workmen accustomed to that kind of stone. The Welch chapel, like its greater neighbour, having been required by the Railway Company, has been taken down, and another built in Woodstreet, which was opened for worship in the present year, 1849. It is in connexion with the body of Christians called "The Welch Calvinistic Methodists." Their present minister is Mr. Price.
THE QUAKERS OR FRIENDS'
The founder of this small but eminently philanthropic and truly respectable section of the Christian community, was George Fox, who was born in 1624, at Drayton in Leicestershire, of respectable parents, who were members of the Church of England. Being of a meditative and serious turn of mind, and having been often occupied at one time in the solitary employment of keeping sheep, which afforded him opportunity for reflection and contemplation, he devoted much of his time to fast ing, private prayer, and studying the scriptures. He was thus brought into deep religious concern, and applied for solution of his doubts and relief from his oppressive solicitude, first of all to his own parish priest, then to other episcopal clergymen, and last of all to the Puritans; but finding no relief from the counsels of any of them, he withdrew from them all, entered into much solitary communion with God, and at length believed that he was divinely commissioned to become a public teacher of those views of religion which he had received from the Lord, and which on divers points were contrary both to the creed of the Church of England and of the various bodies which dissented from it. In 1647 he commenced his itinerant labours, which soon became incessant and exhausting. He first made known his views to such small companies as he casually met, and afterwards to larger assemblies convened for the purpose of hearing his statements. As his opinions were antagonistic to those of all parties, all parties combined not only to oppose them, but to persecute their advocate. He was or wished to be a reformer of all, a character very sure to be more or less hated of all. But though
threatened and maltreated by mobs, assailed by ministers, insulted by magistrates; though often imprisoned and often arraigned, Fox went forward in his career with the courage of a hero, and the constancy of a martyr, and with such success that, before many years had elapsed, he found himself surrounded by a numerous band of fellow-labourers and a widely-diffused and respectable society of religious friends, some of whom quitted, for the sake of his principles, livings in the church, commissions in the army, and seats upon the magisterial bench.
The Quakers are generally Arminian in doctrine ; they assert also, that man for his religious guidance has not only the outward revelation in the Bible, but an inward revelation or communication of divine light, which they affirm to be necessary for the production of true faith, and which, though it neither does nor can contradict either the outward testimony of the scripture or sound reason, is something different from, and in addition to. They profess to wait for the guidance of the Spirit in the affairs of life, but especially in what concerns religion or the worship of God. Hence they are opposed to all liturgical services, all predetermined extempore prayers, and all precomposed sermons. They practice neither baptism nor the Lord's supper, believing that these, though practised by the first Christians, were the relics of the Jewish ceremonial law, and not intended to be permanent Christian institutes. The early members of the body did not hold the divine obligation of the Sabbath, which is still the view of many of the Friends, as it is of some ministers and members of other denominations, but they still held most strenuously the expediency of the day as a season for rest and worship. Joseph John Gurney contended for the divine obligation