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his arrangements, a blessing, while it is maintained in that spirit, alike to ourselves and to the world. We think all priestly domination in the church has ansen out of the loss of the liberty of the church, and that just as every church loses the spirit of liberty, it sinks in the spirit of piety, so that true liberty is essential to true prosperity alike in the church and nation. While we, therefore, desire to spread independency for the good of mankind and for the welfare of the church of God, we have no wish to quarrel with others. We should be the last men to deny to others the liberty of thinking for themselves, even though they should think against our system. We have no wish to wage war upon other sects; for that religion that we require in every man that we receive into our churches, appears to us to give every man a claim to our christian affection who chooses to be gathered into the churches of another order. We, therefore, should be exceedingly inconsistent if we were not catholic. We love the people of God wherever we find them, and the prosperity of every other community we regard as our own, because we are but a portion, and we cannot conceal it from ourselves, but a small portion of the whole body of Christ's church; whatever future progress of our principles we may anticipate, we must at present admit that we are but a small section, and therefore to confine our love to ourselves, or to Independent churches, would be to confine it to a single limb or member, and to leave out the great body of the church of God. We love, therefore, the extension of true religion, and quarrel with no man for extending it according to his own convictions; for in that way alone a consistent man can be expected to act with zeal and energy in extending religion. We meet, then, to-day to promote the extension of our churches, without any hostile feeling towards others. Our great care should be to seek that dominance of pure religion among ourselves which is the surest pledge of its extension and prosperity among others. I will not detain our brethren further, as these principles will still more be developed in the course of the speeches which will be addressed to you; but I will dow call upon our brethren first to give themselves to prayer for the blessing of God upon our proceedings.
The Rev. H. J. Rook, of Faversham, then offered prayer, and the meeting having sung the 178th Hymn in the Congregational Hymn Book,
The Rev. J. Hill, of Gornal, continued the exercise of prayer.
It was then stated to the meeting that communications had been received from Rev. Messrs. Thomson, of Chatham, James, of Birmingham, Croft, of Pickering, Reed, of Newcastle, and Harrison, of Barnard Castle.
Copies of the papers proposed for the consideration of the meeting having been distributed on the preceding day the assembly now proceeded to their discussion.
The Chairman suggested, in order to avoid unnecessary debate, that in any case where it was intended to criticise the phraseology, and not the principle, it was desirable that gentlemen would make a note of the verbal criticism intended, and band it up to the Secretaries, who will give it their best attention when the paper is revised for the press.
The Rev. J. BLACKBURN then proceeded to read the following paper :“ The Home Missionary Duties of Churches, and the best arrangements for their
successful performance. "It is plain from the New Testament, that in the first ages of Christianity, the labours of the apostles themselves alone excepted, there were no means for the spread of the gospel in the world but such as were supplied by the apostolical churches.
" In the visions of the Apocalypse those churches are exhibited as golden lamp stands upholding the light of eternal truth, (Rev. i. 12, 13, 20,) for 'men,' said the Saviour, ' do not light a lamp, and put it under a bushel, but on a lamp-bearer, and it giveth light to all that are in the house." (Matt. v. 15.)
i To this duty the church of Philippi were exhorted by the Apostle Paul. They had been gathered by divine grace from the midst of 'a crooked and perverse generation ;' and amongst those ignorant and ungodly neighbours they were commanded to shine as lights in the world, holding forth the word of life.' (Phi
ii. 15.) The church at Thessalonica fulfilled this christian obligation, which won from the apostles of the Gentiles this honourable testimony, From you sounded out the word of the Lord, not only in Macedonia and Achaia, but also in every place.' (1 Thess. i. 8.)
“ It is obvious, from the earliest uninspired records of Christianity, that the primitive churches retained those principles and practices for several succeeding ages, and that its greatest triumphs resulted, under God, from the personal devotedness of the early Christians.
“ The teaching and preaching of the apostles and chief ministers of the gospel were not, therefore, directed to the edification and comfort of believers only, as if they laboured for their exclusive advantage, but with a view to prepare them for usefulness amongst those around them who had not yet received the truth. Paul, therefore, complained of the dulness and sloth of the Hebrew concerts, and chided them because when for the time they ought to be teachers, they had need that one should teach them again, which be the first principles of the oracles of God.' (Heb. v. 12.)
“ The wants of perishing men still require the same efforts, and no church can be truly apostolical and primitive in its constitution, nor increasing greatly in numbers and usefulness, that does not in this respect conform itself to the practice and precedents of the early Christians.
“ It is therefore necessary that pastors should, like the apostles, direct their ministry to this object, and remember that it forms one important part of the duty of their sacred office.
" When their Lord and Master ascended to heaven, amongst his other bestowments, he gave some pastors and teachers for the perfecting of saints for the work of the ministry. (Eph. iv. 12.) But ministry admits of several degrees, according to the talents entrusted to each. “As every man hath received the gift, even so minister the same one to another, as good stewards of the manifold grace of God.' (1 Peter iv. 10.)
" To develope, increase, and direct these gifts of the people committed to his care is the obvious duty of the pastor, and the following methods have been found, in the experience of many churches, highly subservient to this end, though confessedly subordinate to the instructions of the pulpit.
“I. BIBLE CLASSES FOR THE YOUNG.–The ancient practice of instructing the young by the use of catechetical formularies having greatly declined in our churches, the establishment of Bible classes in some congregations has supplied that omission. In these classes the Bible is the only text-book, and obvious advantages result from appealing to the living oracles as the only standard of faith and practice. The objects to be secured are to ascertain, by sound principles of interpretation, the true sense of the passage, and then to show its bearing upon the characters and circumstances of mankind.
“ The exercise may be made alike attractive and useful to the young by illustrations of the manners and customs, and the places and productions, mentioned in the chapter before them. These exercises should, if possible, be conducted by the pastor, but in large churches gifted persons have advantageously presided over such classes composed of children and young people. By maintaining an interrogatory method, attention is kept awake, and the habit of reading the Scriptures with care and reflection is induced, and obscure phrases, which might be the source of perplexity through life, are made plain and intelligible.
“The evangelist Timothy was, from his childhood, trained to eminent usefulness by the study of the Holy Scriptures, and similar efforts will doubtless prepare many more for the work of God.
“II. MEETINGS FOR PRAYER AND FELLOWSHIP.-By the establishment of churches it was doubtless intended to use the social principles of our nature for the promotion of religion, first in the hearts of the associated believers, and then amongst all around them. To excite those principles, however, into effective action, it is necessary that Christians should unite in closer fellowship than that which the acts of public worship afford.
“ The first disciples met for social prayer, not only in the temple of the synagogue, but also in private houses. (Acts xii. 12.) The gift and grace of prayer were thus exercised, and the simple utterance of the heart was doubtless a means of refreshment and comfort to others, for "as face answereth with the face in a glass, so doth the heart of man to man. If church members are to be useful, they must
be encouraged and assisted to speak to God and to their fellow-men upon the great truths of personal religion. The well known efficiency of the private members of the Wesleyan Methodist connection is chiefly attributable to their frequent religious intercourse with their brethren at class and other meetings for christian fellowship.
" III. A CONGREGATIONAL LIBRARY,-Error often assumes the garb of knowledge by which to impose upon the ignorant and the credalous. It is by knowledge, therefore, that the imposture of its advocates can alone be detected and exposed. It is not enough that the people are instructed from the pulpit "in knowledge and understanding, but all the subsidiary means which scriptural and holy books afford should be placed within their reach. For if Timothy was commanded to give himself to reading,' (1 Tim. iv. 13.) and Paul requested that bis books and parchments might be sent to him, it is plain that ministers and Chris tians, inferior to them in gifts and grace, have need, with diligence, to study the best works on polemical and practical divinity.
“ Vestry Libraries, comprising Commentaries on the Holy Scriptures, Theological Treatises, Religious Biography, Church History, and the Narratives of Modern Missionary Enterprises, should be formed wherever practicable, and be made accessible at the lowest possible rate of subscription. For Sabbath School instruction, and other efforts to improve the people, have excited the appetites of myriads for mental food, and christian minds that crave for such aliment should be gratified, that they may be trained to instruct others. The arrangements of the Religions Tract and Bible Societies will render this more practicable in poor congregations, and a seasonable donation of books from a private friend often lays a good foundation for an excellent vestry library.
" By the blessing of the Holy Spirit on such means as these, in connexion with an intelligent, faithful, and affectionate ministry, a church will be prepared to enter upon every work of faith and labour of love' that a sanctified expe diency may suggest and actual experiment recommend. Amongst such efforts are the following:
“1. The EDUCATION OF THE YOUNG.–The care of the children of our families and neighbours is a duty which the opinions and experience of our churches alike commend. Domestic instruction preceded and almost rendered needless public teaching for nearly two thousand years, and it is the well-known opinion of Mr. Baxter that the preaching of the gospel would not be the chief means employed to bring souls to God, if christian parents would do their duty. Uninformed themselves, too many have been unable to instruct their offspring in the word of God. (Deut. vi. 7, 8.) Let but our churches consist of intelligent Christians, and we shall soon see well informed christian families.
“Sunday School Instruction will also form part of their means of doing good. Not restricting it to the poor, low object of teaching the children the power and use of letters on the Lord's-day, but making it the great business of the school to impart the knowledge, which maketh wise unto salvation. Such schools, where better accommodation cannot be obtained, may be held in our places of worship, and Branch Sunday Schools, of great efficiency and value, have been held in cottages or rooms, in the midst of a much neglected population, by two or three defoted brethren who have given themselves to it. Every Sunday School should have a Library for the children. The liberal offers of the Sunday School Union and the Religious Tract Society for this object, should, if possible, be accepted.
“Where a church is really too poor to purchase school books, the assistance of the Sunday School Society may be obtained.
“ 2. INSTRUCTION OF THE NEGLECTED.-Such is the apathy into which the minds of myriads of our countrymen have sunk respecting religion, that nothing short of personal intercourse with them seems likely to arouse them to a consciousness of their real position.
“ The voluntary and disinterested visits of private Christians of both sexes are believed to be most acceptable to the poor, and are found the best precursors to other and more effective agency. The systematic loan of Religious Tracts supplies an occasion for calling upon them; places within their reach the most important truths, and affords opportunities for conversation, inquiry, and advice, as circumstances may suggest. As those domiciliary visits are paid in given districts and sections, so it has been found useful to hold a local Prayer Meeting in some cottage or apartinent on the spot. Multitudes have first been induced to join in those exercises, who afterwards have attended the worship of the sanctuary with evident delight. These are duties in which Christians of both sexes engage. More than 2000 church members are, in the Metropolis, statedly visiting more than 60,000 families in this manner, with the most gratifying instances of usefulness. To sustain and extend these cfforts, several churches employ Stipendiary Agents, who, in some instances, devote the evening of each day, in others, their whole time to the visitation of the sick, the instruction of the inquiring, and the conducting of prayer meetings, &c. Tonon or City Missionaries, as they are usually denominated, are most effective when thus in co-operation with other Christians, by whose countenance they are encouraged and sustained. The system of visitation is explained in the Principles and Plan of the Christian Instruction Society;' and the Committee of that institution are ever ready to vote grants of tracts, covered and arranged for the use of visitors, who may be unable to purchase them for that purpose. These, and similar efforts, should be conducted with the sanction, and, if possible, with the superintendance of the pastor or one of the deacons of the church.
"3. PROVISION POR THE NEEDY.-It is probable that this part of christian duty and of church fellowship has not been sufficiently regarded. In our smaller churches, the collections at the Lord's table do not supply sufficient means for the relief of the sick and the aged, the widow and the orphan, amongst them. This deficiency results in part from a practical neglect of the apostle Paul's instructions on this very subject. Let every one of you lay by him in store, as God hath prospered him.' (1 Cor. xvi. 1, 2.) Our more prosperous brethren too often put into the plate a small gift, yielding to custom rather than to charity, conforming to the usages of others, rather than offering according to their means. The neglect of poor disciples is a grievous offence against the body of Christ, (James ii. 15, 16; i John iii. 17, 18.)
“ Societies for the Relief of the Sick and for the Clothing of the Poor, are highly valuable, not only as they exhibit the charities of our holy religion, but as they dispose the recipients of this bounty to listen to the gospel from the lips of those whose hands also minister to their necessities.
" It is highly important that our poor brethren should be encouraged to make provision for themselves against sickness, &c. Provident or Benefit Societies bave been formed in several churches, both in England and Scotland, with many obvious advantages.
" 4. CO-OPERATION WITH THE BENEVOLENT.-In this day of benevolent effort, societies are organized in almost every place for the extension of the work of God. It is painful to perceive, in the Metropolis and the other towns and cities in the kingdom, how large an amount of the business of those societies is left in a very few hands. Surely every church should be anxious to supply its proportion of agency to the execntive of such institutions; and it must be the duty of the pastors and the most intelligent members of our churches, to take their share in deliberations and labours so anxious and responsible.
“ Equally to be regretted, is it, that any church should withhold its fellowship from sister churches in County or District Associations. Had combined efforts of this order been vigorously and perseveringly made by Congregational churches in all parts of the kingdom, a much more prosperous and healthy state of things would have been secured than now generally obtains.
“5. EXTENSION OP OUR CHURCHES.-It is humiliating to observe how large a proportion of the chnrches that have been formed during the present century have originated in party alienation rather than in christian zeal. The churches in America have learned, and some in England begin to perceive, the wisdom and truth of the lesson, that, to extend the cause of Christ successfully, large churches must voluntarily and harmonionsly separate to build new places of worship where they are needed, and so, by a system of spiritual colonization, to occupy the waste places of the land. .“ The British Mission, which the Congregational churches have adopted for Home, Ireland, and the Colonies, claim the systematic and liberal support of our people. Originating and sustaining churches in these important parts of the British empire, will, eventually, supply the best means for sending the gospel' to the regions beyond them.
" But churches cannot be multiplied at home, or in the colonies, without an increased number of able ministers. Every church, therefore, should desire to find, amongst its own fellowship, those, who possessing adequate abilities and eminent piety, are willing to consecrate themselves to this service; and should be ready to sustain, by their prayers and pecuniary assistance, any who wish to enter upon academical studies for the christian ministry.
“ It is possible that some may imagine that these efforts are impracticable, in a small and feeble church like their own. Such must be reminded that, time was, when all the believers in the world formed but one church, and that a small con munity; yet, though sew in numbers and feeble in gifts and grace, by the blessing of the Holy Spirit, in answer to united and earnest prayer, the little one became i thousand, and the small one a strong nation. May such believing prayer be repeated, and similar success will, doubtless, follow."
The Rev. J. C. Gallaway, of Westbromwich, then said — I rise to more the following resolution :
“That the paper on the home missionary duties of churches now read, be received by the meeting for free and open discussion, chiefly on the principles and plans embodied in it, but that verbal criticism be restricted to the mention of errors or improvements, without attempting to adjust finally forms of expression."
I may, perhaps, be permitted to make one or two remarks upon the paper which has just been read, partly with a view to get information, partly to add a little testimony in favonr of some of its very important statements. The document says, “ The wants of perishing men still require the same efforts, and do church can be truly apostolic and primitive in its constitution, nor increase greatly in numbers and usefulness, that does not, in this respect, conform itself to the practice and precedents of the early Christians." I feel able, Sir, in connection with the church over which God has placed me, to give my full concurrence in that sentiment. I have found, that just in proportion as the sentiments laid down in the previous part of this paper, the duty of labouring for the cause of Christ and for the conversion of our neighbours, has been urged upon the people, they have been ready to come forward; and, considering the poor condition of those among whom God has stationed me, I have been very much struck with the effect which has been produced by pressing these principles upon their minds. They have come forward with various efforts to extend the gospel in our neighbourhood, which, I must say, have astonished me, when I have considered their previous listlessness and inactivity. In reference to the second topic mentioned here-meetings for prayer and christian fellowship-I have endeavoured, taking the suggestions contained in that excellent book, “ Jethro," to form associations in different parts of the parish for this purpose, and, after a trial of nearly twelve months, I have succeeded to a great extent. Nothing has occurred that has at all tended to promote divisions, but the meetings have tended to create brotherly love, and promote great activity in the respective localities. It struck me, when the Sunday School system was referred to, that one point was omitted. It appears to me that it should be so constructed as to admit the children of the congregation generally, without confining such instruction entirely to the offspring of the poor. I believe this principle has been adopted by some of our ministers, and if it had been introduced here it might have been attended with good effects. I regret, also, that no reference is made to lay preaching - a subject which is brought to our attention in the excellent work to which I have already alluded. I may, perhaps, be permitted to say, and I hope I do so with a right motive, that I have endeavoured to encourage lay preaching, and found it not attended with any painful consequences. There is one subject upon which I should be glad to receive information from my brethren, namely, the working of provident and benevolent societies in connection with churches, how far they have succeeded, and in what manner they have been conducted.
The Rev. D, E. Ford, of Lymington, then rose, and said - With great pleasure, Sir, I second the resolution, assured as I am that the glory of Christ in the salvation of souls, and the prosperity of our churches, will depend, under God, on carrying out the principles stated in this paper. If we can but