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esting and increasingly important branch of British Missions to the liberality and prayers of the churches and their pastors.”
This is a report, (said the rev. gentleman,) which does not require me to detain you by any extended observations; and yet it relates to a subject upon which one or two should be made, for if ever there existed a people in the world whose own welfare has been dependant upon the welfare of their colonies, that people is the British people. There is a marked difference between the colonial relations of states now and in ancient times. The colonies of antiquity were so many independent establishments, the only connexion which they retained with the parent states, was the connexion which arose simply out of fraternal feeling and affection. With us, it is widely different. These colonies are retained as part of our empire, by means of charters and laws for the purpose, and though oceans roll between us, they are, in fact, portions of our common country. Added to which, the parent state has grown up to an amount of population and demand, that would not have existed to half the amount that it does exist, but for that wide empire which we have beyond the seas. If we are not, therefore, to break down at home, we must take care that we do not break down abroad. We have, as a nation, every thing dependant, self-preservation itself, upon the healthy relation subsisting between us and our colonial dependencies; and as Christians we should not anticipate anything of this kind but in proportion as true religion is extended. It must be by the ties of our common Christianity, that we are held permanently and effectually together. With regard to this object, then, which goes, as it were, to the security and well-being of our parent country, how little comparatively is done or even contemplated ! We know, indeed, that things are contemplated in other communities of this kind; but, to a very painful extent, it is simply the setting up of forms and ecclesiastical authorities and the like, which to a very great extent do even more harm than they do good. They go there to generate the same wretched feuds that we have to contend against here. They go there, not as a Baptist brother takes his place by the side of an Independent, and they work together for a common object, but they go to disseminate the same peculiar notions, and in consequence generate the same dissensions. We have at present done very little towards colonial missions. It is, indeed, very painful to think that out of something, I suppose, like 2000 churches, there should not have been hitherto more than about 250 that have contributed to the funds of the Colonial Missionary Society; and that, too, our own denominational effort for the cause of religion in the colonies. I am quite aware that many of these churches, taking in this large number, are poor, and it would perhaps be unreasonable to expect more than a very occasional collection from them. But then make the deduction of that kind, and then what is the position that our average churches, with wealth and power, would really be found to fill? Why, such as I should really be very sorry to have published in Gath, such as one would be sorry to have go forth into the world, that it might be seen that our efforts in relation to this object are so partial as we find them to be. I suppose that the greater portion of our churches do contribute towards the foreign mission, and I would just ask, if their zeal for the foreign mission prompts them to make collections for that, to what point, in many sections at least, can the missionaries who go forth to the heathen, look for protection, encouragement, and hospitality, but to those who are sustained by our own denominations in different parts of the world ? A man like Dr. Ross, stationed where he is, is a kind of centre of everything good connected with the mission to the heathen world, as well as to the important objects of our own colonial mission; and I conceive that we are forgetting a large portion of the machinery that is to operate effectually for the cause of God among the heathen, if we do not endeavour to locate in all the colonial territories of this country, fixed and influential churches, who shall be there as centres, where Christians, let them be traversing to or fro, from what
point they may, shall find, at least for a time, Christian sympathy, and Christian comfort. It is in this manner that we are to cover the earth, if I may so speak, and to show that while there is a spirit of commerce and enterprise in relation to wealth belonging to the British people, which causes them to go to the ends of the earth, the Christianity of Britain is equal in power to the selfishness of Britain. But we have yet to demonstrate that; for the Christianity of Britain does not cover the world to anything like the extent that its commercial enterprise is found to do; but the one must run parallel with the other, if there is to be sanctification of the one for the good of the parent country. I trust that, when it is known that the number of churches contributing is comparatively so small, it will have the effect of stimulating more active effort in the cause of a branch of our modern undertaking, which is indeed of great moment in every conceivable view of it.
The Rev. J. BURDER, A.M., of Stroud, in seconding the resolution, spoke as follows-As it is now some years since I had the high gratification of meeting my brethren here, I cannot refrain from expressing the very great delight it affords me to observe the increased numbers of brethren present. If I recollect right, the last time I was here was, when the “ Declaration of our faith and order" was determined on and ratified; and, I think, there seemed to be then not much more than half the number that are now present. There surely never was a time when our body assumed a greater importance to the interests of the country generally, and especially to the interests of religion, than it now sustains. How delightful, Mr. Chairman and Christian brethren, it is, that while distraction pervade many sections of the Christian church, our denomination, though it has no authoritative confession of faith, presents a picture of, not apparent and outward, but real uniformity. And, Sir, how delightful it is, that now, at length, there is not only union, which there always was amongst us, but there is a manifestation of union. That manifestation of union, I doubt not, will have a most beneficial effect on the state of the Christian world, and will raise our body in the estimation of the Christian world. It will tend to show that the celebrated saying of Chillingworth, now well nigh obsolete in the national establishment, that “The Bible, and the Bible alone, is the religion of Protestants," is not with us an obsolete maxim, but a practical precept, on which we act, and in which, as Christians, and Christian ministers, we may almost be said to " live and move, and have our being." I rejoice, moreover, that there is now an apparatus prepared to enable us to act on the state of the nation, and on the state of the world generally, but especially on the state of our colonies, in a religious way; so that now private friends, men of wealth among us—and there are some men of wealth and piety--have not anxiously to ask, “ In what way may I best employ my spare money, in order to promote the cause of Christian truth in the world"-he has only just to mention the matter to the Christian minister, and through the medium of one, or two, or three of the channels which you have prepared for him, he may send his wealth to distant countries, or to neglected districts of our own country. Mr. Chairman, although I must not touch, or at least more than touch, in the few remarks which I have to make, upon the Home Missionary department, yet I may, perhaps, for one moment, be allowed to say, that our wealthier brethren and churches in the country certainly must exert themselves in a way hitherto unknown, because our poorer churches will not be able to do much at present, for the general promotion of the cause of God. But, Sir, at the same time, I am well convinced, that even our poorer churches might do much more than many of them do. I have often had occasion to remind our poorer brethren, and I live among a number of persons who are poor, though we have many amongst us who are not poor; I have often had occasion to remind them, and I endeavour to act on the sentiment, that our not being able to do much is no reason why we should do nothing, and yet I am well convinced, that that desponding senti. ment really does paralyse the exertions of those who have not much. Sir, let us exert what strength we have. We are not accountable for what we have not, but for what we have, and I should hope that, by and bye, it will be a prevailing sentiment in the minds of all the pastors and deacons of churches, that every church must annually do something, even if it did not give more than 20s. a year, divided into three six and eightpences, for the three different departments. I very much admire the plan on which our Colonial Mission has proceeded. I speak without hesitation, because I have no concern in the management. I think it bespeaks great wisdom on the part of those who direct the affairs of that Society. It reminds me of the course which Buonaparte pursued, who, though he was a most wicked man, was, assuredly, a very skilful general. I understand that his plan was not to attack at one time a great number of points, in some of which he might fail, but to take care to storm strong positions, and to secure one or two of them, and from thence to attach other strong places. I conceive, Sir, that the Committee of the Colonial Missionary Society, in their holy warfare, are acting on this plan. They might have swelled their report, no doubt, with a larger number of other ministers sent forth; but they wisely determined, that if they could not find suitable men who were willing to go, they would not send those who were not altogether fit. I rejoice that this principle is more and more acted upon throughout our denomination, for though the great body of our ministers have always been intellectually respectable, yet I rejoice to find that in all our colleges there is a determination to go forward, to require a larger measure of proficiency in secular as well as theological learning, than used to be acquired in the days of our youth. Sir, I apprehend that our ministers sometimes do not place sufficient confidence in their deacons and their leading members with regard to their disposition to co-operate in a pecuniary way in causes like this. I am convinced, that there is hardly any Christian minister among all our brethren who might not, without using any undue influence, and without unsuitable dictation, persuade the leading people of his church to make an annual collection for this great object; and I do hope that the plan acted upon by some of our churches during the past year, of having a collection simultaneously in all places for British Missions, will be far more generally followed. Why, Sir, I take for granted-facts have shown—that we may be too sanguine, but, judging from my own feelings, I took it for granted, that a much greater number of brethren would make the collection on the 25th October, than you report states. When I mentioned it among our friends, their reply was, “There will be a very great pleasure in it; there will be a very great advantage from symphathy if we are conscious that we are acting at the same time as our brethren, in order to promote this great object--we and our friends will have the benefit of sympathy." I doubt not, from what we know of the power of sympathy, that a larger collection would be made from the very existence of this sympathetic feeling. I do hope, therefore, Sir, that while our worthy Secretary tells us, there is nothing to occasion depondency, whoever lives and has the pleasure of attending the next annual meeting, will find that not only 250 congregations, but, at least, 750, a third part of the whole body, will have been found able and willing to render most effectual aid to this most important institution.
The resolution was then put and carried.
The Rev. Dr. MATHESON then read the following statement of the proceedings of the Home Missionary Society during the past year.
Statement of Home Missionary Society Transactions. It cannot but be gratifying to the friends of the Congregational Union to learn, that the Home Missionary Society, so closely united with it last May, has enjoyed a year of great prosperity. The union was then formed under the most favourable auspices. There was a deep and wide-spread conviction that it was desirable, on many accounts, that there should be, on the part of Congregational churches, a more united effort in
doing good to home. And to what existing institution could they look more naturally than to one which was mainly created, nursed, and strengthened by themselves, till it had reached its majority. After a year's fair and impartial trial, it can be said with truth, and with gratitude to God, that the union has been productive enly of good to all parties concerned. The influence of the Congregational Union has been exercised in favour of this Society, without in the least degree interfering with the management of the institution; or counselling any measure that had even the appearance of a departure from the arrangements of last May. The churches in con. nerion with the Union have, in many instances, cordially and liberally sustained its resources; while other churches, not yet identified with the Union, have, notwithstanding, given their kind assistance; for they knew that, while the directors of the Home Missionary Society pursued their independent course, they were amenable to all the churches, who gave their aid for the way in which they conducted the affairs of the Society. While the directors thus claim their separate legislature and unfettered movements in what belongs to the home mission department of labour, it is only proper that they should openly and cordially express their attachment to the Union itself; and their obligations, for the beneficial influence it has exerted towards the Society. This has been exercised in various ways : through the public press, in heart-stirring appeals to the Congregational denomination; by circulars addressed to pastors and churches, urging attention to the paramount claims of home. The directors would specially refer to the autumnal meeting at Bristol, in connexion with the union, as having produced a most beneficial effect upon the Home Missionary cause throughout the land.
While the directors thus express their obligations, they feel that it is a privilege, as well as a duty, to lay before the assembled brethren, convened from all parts of the kingdom, a very brief statement of what has been done during the past year; in order to show the progress the Society has made, and the hold which the directors hope it is taking, on the minds of Congregational brethren.
First, We shall take a view of the Stations of the Society. The last year's report gave 113 stations-eleven of these have been altered or given up. During the past year, seventeen new missionary stations have been adopted, while twenty-four grants have been made to ministers and others, to assist them in their village laboursmaking in all forty-one new stations-amounting in the whole to 143 stations, under the care of the Society-the largest number it has yet had to sustain or assist. It ought, however, to be stated, that four of these stations are waiting for missionaries, whose services have not yet been procured. An examination of the different stations has taken place, as far as returns could supply information ; besides which, several of them have been visited. The conviction of the directors is, that the stations are generally prosperous; that in the towns of Loughborough, Lincoln, Brixham, Worthing, and Crediton, and also in Marlborough, Bognor, Cirencester, Uley, and other places, to which assistance has been granted, the promise of success is encouraging. The directors would now speak,
Second, Of the Agents of the Society. The number of agents mentioned in the last year's report was 113. Seven have ceased their connexion with the Society, while thirty-one new agents have been added to the Society's list. The present number is 140, the largest which, at any former time, received partial or entire support from the Society. Some changes have taken place in the agency, which it is hoped are improvements ; great care and prudence, however, are necessary, in making alterations, either in stations or in agents. A basty step may injure a promising station ; and to decide against an agent on slight grounds, may affect his usefulness for life. In no part of their duty do the directors need more wisdom, than in discharging this.
Third, of the Home Missionary Students. The directors consider this branch N. S. VOL. V.
of their report as one of the most important parts of their proceedings. The kind Providence of God directed them to a man, whose heart was in the cause ; and whose literary and theological qualifications were in unison with his heart. The Rev. John Frost, the tutor first chosen by the directors, has now, under his tuition, ten students, who are, with hardly an exception, already active agents in the Home Missionary work, The deep interest which the tutor takes, in his responsible department of labour, and the pleasure and profit which the students derive, from domestic kindness and valuable instruction, are frequently expressed in the journals which they send every month to the directors. Several of them are still undergoing their probationary course of study, as they have but recently been accepted by the Society. It is quite unnecessary here to enter upon a description of the plan of education, as best adapted for preparing Home Missionary Agents. This has been for sometime before the churches and has received very general approbation. The directors have become increasingly convinced of the necessity of a sound theological training, as well as general instruction, for those who are to go forth as their agents, through the length and breadth of the land. They deeply feel the responsibility of introducing young men into the work of preaching the Gospel; when they know that probably, in a short time, they may be numbered among the ministers of the Gospel, and appear as the representatives of our ministry before the people of England. They are anxious, therefore, to avoid increasing the number of those, who, untaught in many things that are most valuable and necessary, yet press into the work of the ministry, without the deliberate sanction of Christian churches or pastors, and very soon begin to produce an injurious influence on our denomination. The directors also feel, that the character of the churches, to be formed through the instrumentality of their agents, will very much depend on the good sense, the Christian prudence, and discrimination of the men, who are made instrumental in the conversion of those who unite in Christian fellowship. Home Missionaries, often separated by distance from fellow.labourers, and with no Christians around to counsel them, should have resources in their own minds, which even pastors do not always require. To give these agents, therefore, a good education, is to act for future churches, yet to be collected from the moral wilderness of our country. The directors are, therefore, sanguine in their hopes respecting this department of their duty; and beg. most earnestly, the countenance and prayers of their brethren, while they seek to discharge this duty faithfully. What they would respectfully desire of the pastors of the churches is, to select those young persons most likely to be useful; and by personal instruction, and years of training, in directing their reading, composition, mental engagements, as well as in nourishing their piety, prepare them for further instruction, and for future and extensive usefulness.
The directors would add, that there are two students now under the care of Mr. Jukes, and Mr. Alliott, of Bedford. These respected ministers have adopted the plan of study laid down by the directors. In addition to which, the young men are regularly preaching in the villages around that town. The directors would now, for a few moments, speak,
Fourth, Of the result of the labours of their Agents, and the present aspect of the Society's stations. It has been already stated, that the Society has 143 stations, and 136 agents. Care has been taken to secure the most correct returns; but the directors have found so many different modes of estimating numbers in operation in different conities, that they are not prepared to give the number of hearers. This, however, they may say, that whatever might have been the number of hearers last year, and however large the population might be, in the midst of which the agents of the Society laboured, the increase has been considerable this year; amounting in the new stations alone to 5000 hearers, in the midst of a population of 92,000. These agents labour