indelibly attaching to the only civilized and christianized people in the world, that maintains the practice of domestic slavery-a nation that does but proclaim its own dishonour when it glories in pre-eminent liberty achieved by its own energies, but denied to millions within its own bosom. Nor can this Meeting forbear to express warm sympathy with the devoted abolitionists of America in their generous zeal to free their country from the more hateful crime of holding them in cruel captivity; and in the noble courage with which, amidst every disadvantage, they take their firm stand for truth, liberty, and benevolence. Yet this Meeting must add, in explanation, that it does not approve, but deplores the extravagance and bitterness, the violence and irregular proceedings, by which some American abolitionists have brought discredit on their holy cause, and placed difficulties in the way of its early, peaceful, and perfect triumph.”

The CHAIRMAN then said :- We are now come to the last meeting of the Union, strictly speaking, for this evening is devoted to the business of the Home Missionary Society. We cannot but have felt on this occasion the great advantages of our principles. We see here all the influence that is necessary to be given to weight of character, and thought, and reflection, and experience, and the perfect competency of these to answer every end, without the introduction of any lordly authority over brethren. We cannot but have felt that our principles are capable of the most perfect co-operative, concentrative, and united force, without the admission of that which we think has been the occasion of the great apostacy; for no one can contemplate the power that sits upon the “ seven hills,” without observing that its very basis is prelacy, or the dominion of one brother and pastor of the church over other brethren and pastors. We feel that we want no such authority; it can answer no valuable end. If secular authority is to be employed in casting out unworthy brethren, thai cannot weigh with the minds of men; it is this moral force which we exercise in associating only with those that are deemed worthy of the pastoral office that can operate upon the minds of Christians. We, therefore, have all the useful authority without any of that abuse which necessarily arises from the introduction of force. We must have felt that we are the more closely united in consequence of claiming no dominion over each other. We have met in the provinces on this occasion, because the Congregational Union is in fact no otherwise related to the metropolis than as a matter of convenience. Brethren are accustomed to meet there on other occasions, and therefore our annual meeting has been held there; it might have been held at Liverpool, or anywhere else, if other places had been equally convenient. But we have adopted the plan of holding our adjourned meetings in the provinces, and cannot but feel the advantage of doing so, It brings us into closer contact with brethren whom we never, perhaps, should have had an opportunity of seeing in the flesh, never had an opportunity of seeing their wisdom and their worth, and never have had our affections called forth so powerfully but for these occasions. We cannot but have felt, moreover, in our own element in this great city. The kindly recognition of our friends has endeared them to us, and made us feel that there is more than one metropolis in England. We cannot but contemplate such meetings in other parts of the provinces with great delight. Every additional meeting increases our interest in the Union, whilst it expands our benevolence and affection to the brethren throughout the land. The result of the deliberations of this day, I am persuaded, must be most beneficial to the cause of the Independent churches throughout our country; and if we are but happy enough to plant our seminaries in the destitute parts of our country, transplanting such men as John Frost to regions where they will diffuse not frost, but warmth, we shall have happier reports at our meetings from those places which have hitherto been called the destitute parts of our land, and the wilderness and the desert will blossom as the rose. We have, therefore, to bless our God that we meet in such happy circumstances. Every one must have been struck with the measure of discussion ;- it has been just enough to elicit mind, to improve documents, to prove to us that others have wisdom as well as ourselves, and to give us the satisfaction of knowing that some have more. While we feel the advantage of this discussion, it has been most delightful to perceive how perfectly it was under the controul of love that it has gone no farther than usefulness required it to go, and that whenever all that was valuable in the col. lision of mind has been brought forth, then came forth all that was sweet and constraining in the power of love to induce us to co-operate in that on which all were agreed, however we might otherwise have differed. These are happy auspices. Should this Union grow to that strength which some of us perhaps have anticipated, it never can be otherwise than a blessing as long as it is conducted in this spirit. All that have dissented from the Union will have only to be brought into its meetings to become immediate converts. Nothing that I could put forth in the way of argument would be equal to bringing some of our dissenting brethren-if we must call them so, while we ourselves are Dissenters -into these meetings; we should only say to them, as on another occasion, " Come and see." If, therefore, brethren could be induced, those of them who do not approve of the Union, to visit its meetings, I am sure that we shall very soon have to report concerning non-contents, non inventus ; that we shall have the satisfaction of seeing all the brethren co-operate in this great cause; and that that which has been the opprobrium of our churches to be a rope of sand, shall soon prove, on the contrary, a well-built arch; that we shall find sufficient cohesion to answer every purpose, and have the advantage of not having that element which goes further than that, and does much injury. We have reason to bless God for these meetings, and to thank him that he has given us wisdom, and grace, and strength to conduct them to advantage, and that we shall retire with more fervent prayers for our brethren throughout the land ; and that we shall indulge the delightful hope of seeing Independent churches estsblished all over the world. For I can conceive of no consummation but this; even our adversaries do not. Those who pretend to call themselves the christian church in this country, do not pretend that they are the whole church. 16, therefore, they are the church, they are the Independent church of this country ; in another land, another is the independent church; in another, another; so that you can never fill the world with churches, except fthey are lodependent.If, therefore, we hold these principles, there will be truth with liberty, tbere will be love with liberty, and we shall have reason to hope that we shall at length meet around the throne of God.

The meeting having then sung a hymn, the CHAIRMAN offered up prayer, and the sittings of the Union closed a few minutes before three o'clock.

THE DINNER. The ministers and delegates then proceeded, as on the preceding day, to the Montague llotel, where an excellent dinner bad been provided, by the hospitality of the friends, for the accommodation of the company. When the cloth had been drawn, and the Chairman, Dr. Bennett, had returned thanks

The Rev. THOMAS James, of Woolwich, rose and said :-It is with no ordinary feelings of pleasure that I rise to propose the following resolution :

" That all the brethren present uuite in offering affectionate and grateful acknowledgments to the Churches and Pastors in Bristol, by whom they were so cordially welcomed to assemble in this city for the important and delightful services pow closed ; and in thanking them for all the christian hospitality they have manifested on this occasion. And they in particular gratefully appreciate the services of the committee of management in Bristol, in all those excellent arrangements adopted by them to promote, in every way, the comfort of the brethren, and the success of the meetings."

I am sure I need say nothing whatever to urge this resolution on the cordial reception of the meeting. I may venture to say, that our Bristol friends hare maintained their character for hospitality on this occasion, and they deserre what they will undoubtedly receive, our cordial thanks. I trust we shall hold similar meetings in the provinces from time to time, and receive similar kindaess

from our brethren in other towns which we may be required to visit. It will be remembered, by those whose happiness it was to be present, that last year we received at Birmingham a hospitality quite equal to ihat which we have met with here; and I trust that others will imitate the example thus set by our friends in Birmingham, and followed by those in Bristol.

The Rev.S.D. BERGNE, of Lincoln, in rising to second the resolution, said :I almost envy our Bristol friends the gratification which they must have experienced in having it in their power to extend their hospitality to their brethren. I am sure, Sir, that our friends in Lincoln would esteem it a very high privilege if it were in their power to make a similar demonstration of regard. We are deeply indebted to our friends here. I can say for myself, that I have had all the comforts and all the delights of home, where my lot has been cast; and if my brethren present have experienced the same hospitality as I have, they must feel as I do, deeply indebted to our friends in Bristol

The CHAIRMAN said :-- If I might be allowed to throw in my acknowledge ment to my friends here, I would say, that my kind host was the deacon of my first charge at Romsey, and now he is deacon of a church in Bristol. It gives me great pleasure to see him called to office in this great city-au office which he had honourably filled elsewhere. But he is my constant host-so that it is no new thing to me to be kindly received by him. To our friends who have not the pleasure of such an acquaintance, the hospitality has all the charm of novelty, and, I may say, the charm of antiquity too.

H.O. Wills, Esq., of Bristol, in rising to return thanks, spoke as follows:Mr. Chairman, I hardly know how to express myself. We have had such a meeting as we never had before- a meeting which has certainly been attended with the outpouring of the Spirit of God. I must, Sir, attribute it only to the influence of the Holy Spirit that we have had such an harmonious, such a delightful meeting. I deliberately think that we ought not to record our gratitude in words only, and I shall therefore most cheerfully contribute £20 as a thankoffering to God for having favoured us with the delightful, the important, the hallowed meetings which we have just concluded.

The Rev. J. Jack, of Castle Green Chapel, Bristol, briefly expressed his concurrence in the feelings of Mr. Wills, and trusted that the brethren would separate with mutual wishes for each other's welfare, and earnest prayer for each other's success in the work of the Lord.

The Rev. J. BLACKBURN then rose and said :- I have great pleasure in proposing

“That the Meeting gratefully acknowledges the services rendered on this occasion, by the Rev. W. Jay, in the able sermon preached by him in the Tabernacle--and that the Meeting exceedingly rejoiced to receive among them their venerable brother, and to hear once more from his lips those glorious truths which it has been so long his honour and joy to proclaim; and cannot but offer prayer that the evening of his valuable life may be eminently blessed and useful."

If, Sir, there be any one man out of the immediate circle of my own friendship whom I venerate and love more than another, it is that excellent individual who addressed us last night. Until I went to the hospitable home of my honoured friend on my right, (Mr. Ash,) I was never in Mr. Jay's company; yet I have been a diligent reader of his works, and a frequent attendant on his ministry in the metropolis. When a student, I heard him preach a sermon at the seltlement of Dr. Burder, at Hackney, from that text,“ Brethren, pray for us," -a sermon that was eminently blessed to my own soul in connection with the ministry of the gospel, and I have loved him almost as a father from that day until now. It was to me a matter of extreme pleasure to see him ainongst us; and especially as he was looked upon, I know not why, as a leader amongst our anti-unionist brethren. Some of these good brethren throughout the country have frequently invoked his dame, and therefore I felt it was a great point gained to have his venerable sanction, I said to one of these gentlemen, “ Well, Mr.



[ocr errors]

Jay has consented to preach before the Union :" he said, “ Ah, take care that he does not open a fire upon you-he is a masked battery, depend upon it." I own I felt somewhat anxious as to the result; but when I heard the text, I knew that we were safe. It was an old piece of ordnance-(great laughter,)-but obviously a sound one, and the report of it I heard with very great satisfaction, (Continued laughter.) Mr. Chairman, I trust the merriment I have excited is not unseemly. We have all been engaged in solemn and intense thought and feel. ing both to-day and yesterday, and, as Solomon says, “ a merry heart doth good like medicine;" so I really think that the gladness of heart we all dow feel does not trespass upon the gravity of our christian profession. With all sincerity, Sir, I propose this resolution, for I love and honour that dear man, and may his life-- it was my prayer last night, and is so still-may his life continue in unabated vigour for many years.

W, D. Wills, Esq., of Bristol, in seconding the resolution, said ;-I feel very great pleasure in expressing my gratitude to our excellent friend, Mr.Jay, for favouring us on this occasion, by occupying that pulpit in which he stood fiftyfour years ago. He seemed to me like one of the fathers of the last generation, who had gone to his rest, returning to appear before us. He seemed to bring scenes and circumstances, which have become matters of history, fresh before our eyes. I sincerely rejoice in the meetings with which we have been favoured during the week. They have been to me a source of great pleasure, and I hope I feel grateful to God for them. I trust, however, it is only a foretaste of what we shall yet be permitted to enjoy. We have heard much said of the advantages of union ;' we have often expatiated upon the importance of union; but we have looked in vain for it among our own denomination. But I think I may now say, that we not only hear of it, but that we see it, for here we have it before us a union of heart, of object, and of operation-and we can exclaim with the Psalmist, “ Behold, how good and pleasant a thing it is for brethren to dwell together in unity."

The Rev. J. REYNOLDS, of Romsey, proposed :

“ That the Meeting cannot separate without a closing record of its gratitude to Almighty God for the harmony, delight, and benefit that have attended all its public and social proceedings – for the journeying mercies of those who have travelled to it in safety, and the pleasures of fraternal intercourse with beloved brethren equally united in personal regards and public interests. And the Meeting separating with a delightful remembrance of its hallowed proceedings, and a prayer that its results may be equally lasting and beneficial, expresses also its earnest desire and hope that a similar meeting inay take place next year in some appropriate city or lown."

The Rev. Genileman said, that the meetings which had taken place had served to confirın bim in the conviction, that from the beginning the Union was right, and he felt even now that as it advanced, the rectitude of its proceedings would be demonstrated to all who would give them a candid consideration.

This resolution was seconded by W. C. Wells, Esq., of Chelmsford.

The Chairman having vacated the Chair, which was taken by Richard Ash, Esq., of Bristol,

The Rev. Dr. REDFORD, of Worcester, rose and said - If you have felt these meetings to be very delightful, I am sure you will all feel with me, that we are much indebted to our respected friend and brother, the Chairman, for the very able and the very kind manner in which he has presided over all our movements. I cannot on this occasion move this Resolution without referring to the honour which we, as a denomination, derive from that venerable, learned, and able brother. His services in past years have been great, and I am sure his last service rendered to the cause of evangelical religion, by his refutation of the Puseyite opinions on justification, you will all agree with me, is oae of the most important and valuable of all the valuable and long-continued services which he has rendered to the cause of God, and 10 the interests of our churches.

It is an honour to us, as a body, that the first elaborate argument in refutation of the Papistical doctrine that is now issuing from Oxford should come from a brother of our own. (Hear.) I can say, that I have perused that work with unfeigned satisfaction, and I do think that, under the blessing of God, it will be highly useful in the country at large. It will, I trust, open the eyes of many, I do not expect that it will open the eyes of those at Oxford, for, in all probability, they will not condescend to look at the light, and, therefore, they must remain blind. We cannot but rejoice in the uniform attachment of our churches to the great truths which are taught in that work – the distinctive truths of the gospel, which we hold, I trust, as with one heart and one mind, and which are the glory of our connexion; and that we can say that these truths are preached throughout the length and breadth of our whole denomination. We are not split, as they are, by the most conflicting notions on the most important and fundamental points; hut into whatsoever part of the kingdom we go, if we ask for an Independent chapel, although strangers to the place, we know what we shall hear-we know that we shall hear the truth as it is in Jesus. I therefore do feel to-day very great satisfaction in moving this Resolution:

“ That this Meeting acknowledges with much respect and grateful feeling, the very valuable services of the Chairman, the Rev. Dr. Bennett, throughout the whole of its proceedings; and assures that beloved brother of its high regard for his character and services through the lengthened period of his ministerial course; and of its prayers that the closing season of his life and labours may be eminently honoured and useful ;' and I am sure you will feel as much in passing it. (Cheers.)

The Rev. A. WELLS rose and said, I have reserved to myself the pleasure and honour of seconding this Resolution, because it was my happiness to make application to Dr. Bennett to preside over us, and holding the situation which I do, it is a great support and gratification to me, as well as to other brethren, to find honoured and able men, like Dr. Bennett, willing to preside over our proceedings, and to give the advantage of their experience, character, and abilities to this Institution. (Cheers.) I particularly rejoiced in the solemn and delightful close which our Chairman gave to our meeting-the exquisite devotedness and good sense, and kindly feeling of that closing address and prayer, and the sweet hymo that we sung-it was nearly worth travelling to Bristol for that sweet gleam of sunshine upon the close of our assembly. And I must also observe, that it gives me additional satisfaction and joy to second this Resolution on the present occasion, after the observations which my dear friend Dr. Redford, has made about our venerable father's defence of our common Protestantism. Our honoured friend, Mr. Jay, too, could not close bis sermon last night without bearing testimony on behalf of that moderate system of Calvinism, that well-balanced view of truth, which has prevailed from the days of the Puritans down to the present time, and which I no more wish to see damaged by extreme statements of human responsibility, than by extreme statements of divine sovereignty. I rejoice to hear a man like him bear testimony to truths which are in themselves glorious and divine, but still more so, when we know from history, that they have never yet been departed from without damage to the cause of Christ. I feel, therefore, very great satisfaction in seconding this Resolution, which I could not help reserving for myself. (Cheers.)

The Rev. Dr. BENNETT returned thanks, in the following address :- My dear brethren, you will easily sympathise with me when I say, that there are two occasions on which I feel myself unable to speak - one is when I feel 100 little, and the other is when I feel too much. Ou the latter occasion you will easily perceive that I must be quite unable to express my sense of your kindness in receiving my services on this occasion. I can see only one reason why I should have been placed in the chair, and that is what every man may attain if he should live as long as I. (Laughter.) But to have presided on this occasion I do deem one of the honours of my life. I have, perhaps, no other claim but that of having lived long, which I hope many of my brethren around me

« VorigeDoorgaan »