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stances, a third self-contained organiza- | district held together as one church, and tion has arisen. These bodies may have their unwillingness to separate into outgrown all ancient animosities, and be smaller distinct communities. now living together in perfect peace. By most of you it will be conceded But, at all events, if union be strength, that the primitive rule was one church our friends in the situation described are in a city; and with that rule there seems sadly wanting the strength which, but coupled another-a whole church in one for division, they would have; and, at place. When Christians greatly multiply, any rate, there are at least a couple of then comes up the problem, since the men engaged laboriously in doubling observance of both rules in every case work which might with more efficiency has become impossible, which rule is to be singly performed, to say nothing of take the lead? Is the oneness of the what is a very common mischief in con- body or the oneness of the locality most naxion with such facts, the miserable important? Is unity of place to have stipend which each receives.
precedence over union of fellowship and In a large town or city, the necessities action? A learned Congregationalist of are different. There must be a plurality the last century—a sort of constitutional of congregations. But need there be a lawyer on such points—the Rev. Thomas plurality of “ interests ?” That conven- Harmer of Wattisfield, went so far, in sional phrase amongst us, which I ex- commenting upon the Savoy rule already ceedingir dislike, too often conveys a quoted, as to question whether, in his selfish meaning, as true as it is objec- day, there ought to have been in the tionable. The question arises whether metropolis more than one Independent these congregations ought to be grouped church for the City, one for Westminster, into one church, having a community of one for Southwark, and one for each of interest and a plurality of pastors, and the Tower Hamlets. He counted the rasionally meeting all together, forming number which then existed a deviation in itself a united and complete ecclesias- from scriptural Congregationalism. * tical body, quite distinct from other Dr. Davidson, in his Congregational ecclesiastical bodies in other towns, and Lecture, expounding the nature of Scriptherefore strictly Independent (using that ture precedents, maintains that “we are epithet as distinguished from Presby- wrong in splitting up what ought to be terian); or whether each of these congre- one church-the company of believers in gations, remaining as large as possible, modern towns – into several churches, should constitute a separate and isolated each with its own pastor, which in their srganization. It is interesting to notice independent individuality are patches how the fathers of modern Congrega- and shreds, often incapable of a right tionalism regarded such matters. In the self-government, because they have lost Savoy Declaration they say, “For the sight of the unity and kind of governsvoiding of differences which may other- ment existing in the earliest churches. wise arise, for the greater solemnity in By so doing, they have thrown away the celebration of the ordinances of much of their strength; and what is Christ, and the opening a way for the more, their views have been narrowed ; larger usefulness of the gifts and graces each man thinking, moving, and acting of the Holy Ghost, saints living in one in the midst his little society, becomes city or town, or within such distances as contracted in his ideas of men and things. that they may conveniently assemble for It is very difficult for him to avoid being divine worship, ought rather to join in sectarian, selfish, and unsocial in spirit, the church, for their mutual strengthen because his sphere is so narrow. Coming and edification, than to set up many prehensive and liberal views of Chrisdistinct societies.” Nothing is more tianity are not readily nurtured in the remarkable, in the early history of our small canton which the preacher looks on denomination, than the tenacity with as peculiarly his own." which Congregationalists in the same * Harmer's "Miscellaneous Works," p. 154.
Another modern authority—a writer , seeking advice and counsel from another in the British Quarterly—observes, “ The churchWhy not have a systematic maxim of primitive Independency ap- exchange of pulpits ? pears to have been unity to the furthest All this is in harmony with the Heads possible extent; while the maxim of of Agreement of 1690, that particular modern Independency would almost seem churches ought not to be so separate to be division to the furthest extent from each other as not to have care and possible, or, at least to the extent most tenderness towards one another; that consistent with each church having but their pastors ought to have frequent one pastor, and with many having no meetings together, that by mutual advice, pastor at all.”
support, encouragement, and brotherly In these remarks there seems to me to intercourse, they may strengthen the be a great deal of truth and good sense ; hearts and hands of each other in the but I am fully aware of the difficulties ways of the Lord. All this is consonant attending an attempt at a re-organization with the teachings of the ejected Indeof our system in this respect, though the pendent, Dr. Owen. He
" All last-mentioned writer does say a little societies which have the same original, boastfully, “If on this point, or any the same rule, the same interest, the others, we are wrong, happy is it for us same ends, and which are in themselves that nothing extraneous exists to prevent mutually concerned in the good or evil our returning to the right. Without con- of each other, are obliged by the power sulting kings or parliaments, or bishops and conduct of reason, to advise in comor canons, or synods or conferences, or mon for their own good, on all emerunion, we can take the law of the king- gencies that stand in need thereof. dom into our hands, and rectify by its Churches are such societies; they have guidance any discrepancy in our prac- all one and the same authoritative institice, if we please.' If we please! tution, one and the same rule of order Very good. But who are the "we" on and worship, the same ends as we have whose pleasure such reforms must wait: declared, and their entire interest is one and how are the potent “we” to be in and the same. When, therefore, anyduced to exercise their pleasure in so thing occurs amongst them, that is doing?
attended with such difficulties as cannot Short of organic changes, which re
be removed or taken away by any one of quire much study and thought, together them severally, or in whose determinawith a general concurrence of opinion tion all of them are equally concerned, before they can be attempted with wis- not to make use herein of common advice dom and safety, there are some prac- and counsel, is to forsake that natural ticable and easy approximations to a light which they are bound to attend unto congregational union, or a union of con
in all duties of obedience unto God. gregations, in cities, towns, and exten
“No church, therefore, is so indepensive districts, which immediately demand dent, as that it can always, and in all the most careful attention. Why might cases, observe the duties it owes unto we not have generally, what already ob- the Lord Christ and the church catholic, tains in particular instances--periodical by all those powers which it is able to communions, when all the church mem- act in itself distinctly, without conjuncbers of a neighbourhood can partake tion with others. And the church that together of the Lord's Supper? Why confines its duty unto the acts of its own not hold stated conferences of all the assemblies, cuts itself off from the exterpastors and church officers living in the nal communion of the church catholic, same locality! Why, in cases of diffi- nor will it be safe for any man to comculty on the part of one church, should mit the conduct of his soul to such a not some wise method be recognised, by
church.” * • "Ecclesiastical Polity of the New Testa. *"Of the Communion of Churches," Owen's ment,” p. 123.
Works, vol. xx., p. 584.
I can see nothing to imperil our Inde- / and healthy attachment to ecclesiastical pendency in seeking as much centraliza- independency; but is not the time come tion as possible within a limited circum- when, under the lights of the past, and ference-Independency must perish in a the ripened wisdom of a long experience, rast Presbyterian establishment--but it we may deal safely with this pressing would run no risk of losing its vigour- question, and instead of being frightened Day, it would renew its youth like the at our own shadow, sit down carefully Eagle's-were it to expand as much as to contrive how, without having less of possible into comprehensive unities within independency, we may have very much the precincts of a moderate district. The more of union ? power of our denomination-instead of Another evil from which we greatly ravelling out-or running to seed, as it suffer, is the facility and encouragement often does now—would be compact, and given to separations. In our successful concentrated on important and command- refutation of the charge of schism brought ing fields of enterprise. The jealousies against us by our friends of the Establishand heart-burnings of rival interests ment, we are liable to forget that we are would be extinguished. The strong specially in danger of committing that would help the weak. The way would sin amongst ourselves. To separate from be open for a beneficial division of labour, a church whose government, discipline, like that which is based on sound princi- and order does not appear to us scriptural, ples of political economy. Instead of is not schism. But to divide what we keveral men doing each of them every count as a New Testament Church, for thing, whether fitted for it or not-each any but the very gravest reasons-on any might have it arranged for him to do principle but that which touches conthat for which nature adapted him, and science to the quick-looks so much like from which the richest fruit would be schism, that I am at a loss to see how, gathered by his brethren. Nor can one when such grounds of division as I have fail to perceive that a drawing closer the instanced do not exist, the ugly accusabonds of connexion between the pastors tion can be successfully repelled. I am and congregations of a vicinity, and the afraid there are a good many schismatics fostering of common sympathies amongst amongst us-people who, without suffithem, would materially tend to prevent cient justification, leave a church whose some of the denominational mischiefs faith and order they approve, to set up which now arise when a vacancy occurs another perfectly distinct church, of the in the ministerial office.
same denomination, in the same neighI know the jealousy of centralization bourhood. * There is some unseemly in some quarters, and I respect the
Many years ago my friend the Rev. T. venerating love which so many cherish Binney made the following just observations : for the independency of churches ; but it
"A society, in which a number of persons is the way of a child, and not of a man, unite in voluntary compact, for the purpose of to rush into one extreme to avoid another. securing certain common objects; to the
members of which the plans for securing It is madness and folly to steer right into those objects are to be submitted, and by them, the whirlpool in order to avoid the rock. in their social capacity, examined, selected, Our independency has too often become its aim, is founded upon the implied submis
and confirmed,-such a society, whatever be a dance of atoms, a realization of the sion of each member to the decision of the Epicurean theory of the universe--a majority. Now, I must acknowledge, it does desperate working out of the problem of appear to me, that this implied basis of all
voluntary societies, and therefore of all Indethe infinite divisibility of matter--through pendent churches, is by no means recognised a jealousy and fear of imaginary evils by many an Independent church with that on the side of consolidation and unity. mental importance demands. To say that
pre-eminent distinctness which its fundaWise men must know, from the study of there are no circumstances which can authoecclesiastical history and human nature, rise a minority to withdraw would be obviously what the real evils are, besetting schemes involve some matter of immense moment and
absurd; but none can do so unless the facts for comprehension, apart from a sound magnitude. When such a gecession occurs
quarrel, perhaps, and folks say it is far The multiplication of minor indebetter to divide, and have a new "interest' pendent interests in rural districts, is in the town; and so in the spirit of another of our besetting sins. A dozen strife, though with opposite professions, or two of good people in a village-pera rival community is planted under the haps not so many--claim the right of shadow of an old one. It is said, separa- forming themselves into distinet tions are bad things, but they are over- society, instead of remaining attached ruled for good. No doubt evil is over- to some neighbouring brotherhood whose ruled for good sometimes, but that gives support they are anxious to receive, but no encouragement to do evil that good with whose offices, in the way of taking may come.
Church extension should be care of them — though they need it a primary object with churches, and enough-they are determined to dispense. when large and prosperous, it is their Hence comes the prolific increase of very duty to swarm. Colonies should be sent small churches and very poor ministers, forth in love. In the same spirit, they which some publicly deplore, and a much should be cherished and supported by the larger number lament in silence. parent community, bonds of connexion Connected with these evils, as I have as close as possible being retained—the this moment indicated, and sometimes mother manifesting maternal care, and arising from causes of another kind, is the daughter responding to it in filial the scanty support which some churches affection. The formation of new congre- | yield their ministers. The voluntaryism gations in that way should be encouraged of extreme independency in many little as much as possible, but the formation of causes, whether hidden in the corners of churches in the other way, should be as towns, or sprinkled over rural districts, decidedly checked.
can never afford an adequate livelihood to unwarranted by this, it is an oblivion of an the pastors who are its patrons, or its implied and important duty; and its tendency, victims. Voluntaryism may, and ought, if generalized, would dissolve every voluntary in every case, to furnish what is sufficient combination of men; excite perpetual confu for pastoral respectability, where men of sion, and become the poignant source of dis. order and anarchy. The will of the majority wealth are connected with the church. shall be law,' constitutes the only foundation If such persons encourage, perhaps for on which free men can unite in society, and their own convenience, a diminutive comact in concert; and, in a Christian church, when that will has been legitimately ascer munity around their dwelling, with a tained and properly expressed – unless it pastor devoting his whole time to the appear to the minority that such acquiescence welfare of the little flock;—then it is no would imply a violation of principle and conscience-unless this be the case, departure is display of wonderful generosity, but just the positive dereliction of a duty, which every the payment of a debt of justice, for them person on joining the society is supposed to recognise and promise to perform; and, there
to contribute to that pastor's maintefore, it is a forgetfulness of social and moral nance on such a scale as will enable him obligations. These remarks contain nothing to provide things honest in the sight of but a simple process of reasoning on what the all men. For a poor minister, under such nature of man and nature of a voluntary society, into which such a being enters, render circumstances, to accept or even seek essential to be observed. It is the application assistance from charitable fonds, is no of a general principle to a particular case; | dishonour to him; but to the rich deacon, and we appeal to nothing but the reasonableness of the thing. It springs from the neces. or member, who could easily prevent the sity of nature; a number of free intelligences, existence of the necessity, it is a terrible each called to form an independent opinion on a subject in which all are to act, and all disgrace; and in all our churches, sare viewing it, as they must, from different posi: where ministers are already amply protions, according to the particular character and vided for, it should become a serious capacity of each--the diversified circumstances to which every individual, is respectively sub business question, how these salaries can ject-in such a case, without the recognition be best increased ? It would be a good and the observance of such a principle, they Bicentenary celebration in many places can never advance at all, with anything like united and vigorous action."-Life of the Rev.
to make some handsome addition to the S. Morell.
present paltry stipend of the man whom
the people sometimes proudly call a New I mean public opinion. We can inspire Testament bishop. Nor would it lack and nourish and sustain that by daily peculiar and emphatic fitness just now, endeavours in favour of such reforms as inasmuch as in the days of the ejected, we need. We can do much to produce the liberality of some of the Puritan and keep alive a feeling that shall pergentry was most munificent, and they vade and permeate our churches like a counted it an honour largely to provide for healthful breeze from heaven, sweeping their chosen teachers, who were cut off away' any pestilent miasma that may from State-support, and had nothing to de- have for a while floated over our ecclepend on but what God sent them through siastical meadows. We can effect much the thank-offerings of their friends. towards draining church-fields • Other evils and their remedies miglit through public opinion. By common be pointed out, but I forbear, I think consent, in talking and writing we can enough has been said to show that there brand things which may be proved to be are things amongst us requiring to be mischievous, so that they shall be carefully revised, and vigorously cor- ashamed to hold up their heads any rected. It cannot be done by this Union longer. We cannot bring evils and as such. It cannot be accomplished by abuses, amongst us into a formal court, of our county associations. No legislation justice, try them, and sentence them to can effect it-our principles forbid the the hulks or the gallows; but we can taking of laws for the churches--our make them so odious that, like some constitution supplies no binding force. celebrated culprits whom law cannot So far. We are powerless. But we can catch, they must slink into holes and strive; all of us can strive, ministers can, carners, and be no longer. harboured deacons can,, members can strive to by honest men.* create in our denomination that which is stronger than law--that which will be * In connection with this extract from potent to the putting down evil-mighty “Lessons for Nonconformists " - by John in the creation and maintenance of good; Stoughton-prepared at the request of the
that which influences Englishmen Committee of the Congregational Union, and above everything-which is now pene- would earnestly call attention to a series of
published by request of the assembly, we trating men's minds and consciences, checking the lawless, encouraging the papers published in the Christian Spectator
during the last few months, in which the timid,-making vice cower and leading question mooted here, and others of a similar forth virtue crowned – which speaks character, are discussed with all that cleverness through the press with more command- and fearless honesty for which our respected ing tones than Parliament can articulate ; contemporary is distinguished,
Biographical Sketch of the late Reb. 6. C. Maitland, M.A.
PASTOR OF FAWCETT-STREET CONGREGATIONAL CHURCH, SUNDERLAND.
No. words borrowed from earth can than wonted freedom and delight; since express the state of feeling of which I we had together concerted plans, and became conscious, on receiving the sad expressed hopes for the future. I was intelligence of the sudden and unex. stunned and overpowered, and could not pected death of my late beloved friend. for some time realize the painful fact: A fortnight had not elapsed since we had He was in the prime of his manhood, clasped hands with mutual joy; since I with all his powers and energies in active had occupied his palpit, and taken part operation, and with his heart glowing in his anniversary services; since we had with a holier ardour. Nor was there mingled thought and feeling with more then anything prophetie of his approach