Page images

not believe that any man of God in his right mind, will dare to dispute the truthfulness of the argument-of which the above quotation is but a very small sample. It is not for us to say whether the strong allusions which Mr. Kershaw has made to parties and circumstances connected with the opening of Oldham Street Chapel, were called for or not. Many good Christians think that that part of the discourse had better been omitted; but here we shall be silent. At the close of the sermon, Mr. Kershaw said—


a docrine that never was embraced by the majority composing the church at Oldham Street. But on the contrary, we do believe that God does chastise and correct his people for their profit, and that in love; for, if we be without chastisement whereof all are partakers, then, are ye bastards and not sons? Heb. xii. 8.


Thirdly. The people of God not being the subjects of doubts and fears,' a sentiment that never was believed by the majority of the church at Oldham-street. But contrary wise, we believe these things compose the combined army that continue to harras and perplex the children of God, these constitute the thorns in the flesh, and the canaanites that will dwell in the land

'for the flesh lusteth against the spirit, and the spirit against the flesh, and these are contrary the one to the other, so that ye cannot do the things that ye would.' Gal. v. 17.


Fourthly. As regards 'sin in thought being equal to sin in act' is a doctrine we never heard of until brought as a public charge against us. As a church we denounce such a sentiment as unpracticable and contrary to the tenor of divine truth,



"Fifthly. Any person objecting to subscribe to this declaration of faith herein contained cannot continue a member of this church-and any member or members advocating doctrines contrary to this declaration of faith, on conviction thereof shall forfeit their membership."

This is good and there is nothing would please us better than to find that JohnFor we must all appear before the judgKershaw and John Corbitt were "walking ment seat of Christ, that every one may together in the unity of the Spirit ;" and receive the things done in his body acpreaching in one another's pulpits. Why cording to that he hath done, whether it be should it not be so? John Corbitt is truly good or bad. 2 Cor. v. 10. an anointed servant of our Lord Jesus Christ a man that is enabled by the grace of God, to preach and live, to love and practise the glorious gospel of the ever-blessed God: and he is evidently a man that the Lord will make great use of in gathering in and building up the chosen vessels of mercy. His conversion to God-his call to the ministry-his usefulness-his faithfulness-his consistency and fervency in the faith, all these things are known and manifest unto thousands. As to the gross errors against which Mr. Kershaw has so powerfully entered his protest, why it is evident that neither Mr. Corbitt, nor the church at Oldham Street, would countenance them for a moment. The pastor and the Church at Oldham Street are as much opposed to anything in doctrine or in practice that is not consistent with the word of God, as is the church at St. George's Road. We have had indubitable proof of this. Beside which, we have now before us 66 A Declaration of Faith in Doctrine, Experience, and Practice, of the Church of Christ, meeting for Divine Worship at Bethesda Chapel, Oldham Street, Manchester." After enumerating the several articles of their faith, they add the following: Furthermore, as we stand charged with holding False Doctrines, we think it incumbent on us to state our faith. First, as it regards backsliding,' we do believe that the child of God does fall into sin, yet by grace is preserved, and kept persevering unto the end; for if any man sin we have an advocate with the Father, Jesus Christ the righteous. 1 John ii. 1.





Secondly. The doctrine of non-chastisement for sin in the children of God' is

It would rejoice my heart to see other Baptist churches planted in this large and populous town, with spiritual pastors placed over them, preaching the gospel of Christ in love. These pastors walking together in the unity of the Spirit and the bond of peace, like your old minister and the late William Nunn, though of different denominations; so that when I come to Manchester I could preach in all their pulpits. But before this can be, we must have things upon a proper and scriptural basis. I speak from no bad feeling against individuals, but from a regard to the truth and word of God."

be no longer charged with holding docLet the Church at Oldham Street, then, trines contray to the Scriptures of truth; but rather let the ministers of Christ unite in encouraging and strengthening the hands of our brethren there, rejoicing in the fact that another effectual door is opened in Manchester, and another standardbearer raised up for the proclamation of the gospel of peace. Having occupied so much room, we must close, by giving the following extracts from a letter written by Mr.

John Corbitt.

MY DEAR BROTHER IN THE LORD:-May grace mercy and truth be with you and all that love our Lord Jesus Christ.

I promised you in my last that I would furnish you with the particulars respecting the charges brought against the church and minister of Oldham Street, Manchester, of holding certain unscriptural doctrines, which, as a body, are altogether unfounded in truth. The true state of the case is this:

At the commencement of the cause at Oldham Street, some two or three who held these doctrines in their private judgment, came over from George's Road to Oldham Street; but they did not then, nor for a long time after, advocate them in so public a manner as in the latter part of Mr.

Recognition of Mr. Moyll,


Bidder's ministry since that time; the
knowledge of these things coming to my
ears, I ventured to preach a
upon it before I received a call to the pas-
toral office. This sermon will be found
published in the Gospel Ambassador for
April last, which is sufficient to prove that
the minister did not believe in those sen-
timents, neither did the majority of the
church, or they could never have chosen
me as their minister.

But it is still urged that there are some amongst them who do hold and advocate those doctrines. I know there was; and what church is there that hath not some two or three that differ in some point from the general body? I never knew one. But shall I stab, and hold up to ridicule, the minister that the Lord has most signally blessed, and a church whose members are walking in the fear of the Lord, and in all sweetness of spirit, the Lord adding daily to their numbers? And what authority hath a church over such individuals for their private opinion, even though the minister and people may be injured in their peace by their contentions, while their moral conduct is becoming the gospel? We however, as a church, had no means of dealing with them, but that of kindness, entreaty, and persuasion.

CHRISTIAN FRIENDS:-The wonderful leadings of God, in his providence, in the exercise of his rightful sway over his church, in her militant state, are often manifest in raising up an interest by the intervention of the most humble, and in themselves insufficient means, which have led to important terminations.

The minister, deacon, and church have tried every means in their power to settle this matter amicably and scripturally, and in honour to our Lord and master; and the only means we could effectually adopt was the bringing forward a declaration of our faith and church covenant, a copy of which I have herein sent for your review and approval; this matter was determined on at a special church meeting held on the 23rd of April, 1848; and it was carried without a dissenting voice. This declaration of faith and order was then printed, and brought before the church for their signature on Friday night, April 5, and signed by all present, except two, who wished to have a little more time to consider the matter. The church then thought proper to allow the whole church that pleased to come together on Lord's-day May 7, as usual to the ordinance, and that the matter should lay open for the signature of the remaining members until the regular church meeting on Friday the 2nd of June; after which time no person will be considered a member of this body that does not subscribe to these articles. By this means we have, (and we hope in the fear of the Lord, and in love to his truth,) furnished ourselves from his word with a fence by which this little spot will hither-ing his house for prayer. This was very to be enclosed from the world. We acceptable to many friends; and a goodly must expect to meet with censure from number of persons were from time to time those who want a name in a christian collected together. These meetings were church, but love to indulge in licentious- rendered very profitable; and the worship ness; but we, as a church, walking in the was conducted with so much spirit, ferfear of the Lord, wish to withdraw our- vency, and affection, that it was evident selves from all such. The Lord bless and that the great Head of the church, accordprosper you is the sincere prayer of your ing to his gracious promise, made one affectionate brother in the bowels of Christ, amongst that little company, who found it JOHN CORBITT. S

We have, as a church, peculiarly experienced the truth of this, as the sequel will illustrate. Many attempts have been made by different individuals, at various times, to establish a Baptist cause at Peckham, but none of them succeeded, until God, in his all-wise providence, removed Mr. Spencer to this vicinity for the benefit of his health. He was an active, intelligent, and wealthy deacon of the church of the late Mr. Upton, of Church Street, Blackfriars; and a valuable spiritually minded brother in the faith, orthodox in sentiment, and upright in his principles, walk, and conversation. Shortly after he had entered on his new abode, feeling the loss of the means he had been wont to enjoy, he took the first step towards the establishment of our present interest, by open


THE church's best interests lay near our hearts; and for the information of such as take pleasure in her peace and prosperity, especially our country readers, we desire from time to time (according to the best of our given ability), to lay before them what is going on in our gospel Zion.

Tuesday, May 9th was the day appointed for the public recognition of Mr. G. Moyll, as pastor of the Baptist church, meeting at Rye Lane, Peckham. The day was exceedingly fine, and the chapel was well filled on

each occasion.

In the morning, Mr. W. Felton, of Deptford, delivered a very able address on the nature of a gospel church: after which Mr. J. A. Jones rose to ask the usual questions. He began by asking the church for a statement of the leadings of divine providence in bringing Mr. Moyll amongst them: to which Mr. Henry Congreve, one of the deacons, replied, by reading the following interesting statement of the origin, rise, and progress of the cause at Rye Lane, which we here give in full.

good to be waiting at the posts of his doors. | to direct them in the choice of an underGreat spirituality of mind, joy, and peace shepherd to go in and out before them. prevailed, with an increase of love and unity.

Mr. Spencer and the friends perceiving the blessing of the Lord resting on this humble endeavour, and being much encouraged thereby, were constrained to advance another step in the sacred cause, which was to obtain the permission of the Committee of the Lancasterian School to grant them the privilege of preaching the gospel in the school room on the Sabbathdays, and on the week-day evenings, to which they readily consented; and accordingly, this new arrangement was published abroad at their following prayermeeting, when a spirit of prayer for a blessing to attend them to their newly appointed sanctuary mightily prevailed. Various ministers supplied the pulpit by rotation, amongst whom may be mentioned the late Mr. Chin, Upton, Powell, sen., and others. The prayers of the people were evidently answered; as many attended the gates of Zion, and the Lord gave testimony to the word preached, to the comfort and edification of many. Several were convinced of sin, and brought into a saving acquaintance with their lost estate, and embraced the Rock for want of a shelter. These pleasing indications of the Lord's manifestive presence and approbation gladdened the hearts of those who felt an interest in the cause. The minds of the friends were much engaged in prayer to the Great Head of the church to direct their future proceedings. Seeing that a great spirit of union pervaded the spiritual part of the assembly, they expressed a desire to promote it still further, by the formation of a closer affinity with each other; and after special prayer for guidance, several of the brethren and sisters were formed into a Particular Baptist Church on the 15th of December, 1818; and on the 27th of the following month the ordinance of Believer's Baptism was administered by Mr. Chin to six persons, who were subsequently added to the church.

Various servants of the Lord, we have observed, were engaged in preaching the word to the church and congregation; amongst whom may be noticed Mr. Blyth, Mr. Barnard, Mr. Eason, and Mr. Powell on the Lord's-days; with Mr. Keeble, of Blandford Street, Mr. Upton of Blackfriars, and Mr. Chin, of Lyon Street, Walworth, &c., on the week-days; and a great amount of good appears to have been done through their instrumentality; but the ministry of Mr. Powell appeared pre-eminently acceptable, both to the members of this little church, and the congregation; being attended with an evident unction from above. The church, therefore, looking at the pleasing aspect of success which attended his ministrations to the church and people, entertained a serious resolve to give him a call for three months on probation, which, after seeking the Lord's guidance, they did. The invitation was accepted: and at its termination was again renewed, and again accepted; and on the completion of his probationary services, the church again convened themselves together for prayer, and on the 25th of February, 1819, unanimously agreed to give him a call to the pastorate, to which he consented, and he was solemnly ordained to the pastoral office at Hanover Chapel, l'eckham, on the 3rd of May, that year.

Previous to this period, the church in Mitchell Street, St. Lukes, under the pastoral care of Mr. Thomas Powell, (father of our late pastor,) having perceived that his son, (then an active deacon of that church,) possessed ministerial gifts, he was desired to exercise them before the church; which he did, on the 16th of February, 1816, with so much general satisfaction, that he was set apart by them for the ministry whenever an occasion should call him into the sacred service. The friends at Peckham on hearing of this circumstance, sent him an invitation to preach to them, to which he consented; and his labours on that occasion, and from time to time, as they were renewed, were greatly blessed to many, and gave satisfaction to all; and like some of the disciples of old, they continued with one accord, in prayer and supplication, that the Lord would be pleased, in his own time and way,

Previously, however, to this period, Mr. Spencer entered into his rest; but the cause found an active help-meet in his widow, by whose liberality the church was materially benefitted. Several attempts to obtain a suitable spot of land for the erection of a meeting-house capable of containing the increased and increasing congregation had been made for many months prior to the call of Mr. Powell to the pastoral office, but in vain, until at length an opportunity offered, and was embraced; and the necessary agreement for a lease was executed on the 22nd of February, 1819. The building was then commenced under the superintendance of the late Mr. Chin,pastor of the Baptist church, Lyon-street, Walworth, and finished under his directions; and completed at the cost of £1,357 6s. 7d., of which sum £530 had been raised by subscriptions, leaving a balance of £794 19s. 2d., which was paid for in the following way: namely, £530 by loan, at 4 per cent. from Mrs. Spencer, of Peckham, widow of the late Mr. Spencer: Mrs. Coade, of Camberwell, £100; our late pastor, Mr. Powell, £14419s 2d. and a donation of £20 from Mr. Kentish, late deacon of the church. The chapel was then invested in trust for the use of Strict Communion Baptists, of orthodox sentiments; and on the 1st of September in that year was opened for public worship, when collections were made towards the payment of the debt, amounting to £68 1s. 2d., which was considered very liberal.

Redoubled exertions were now made by the friends to liquidate the debt, by their

contributions, and by weekly and monthly continued to serve us in word and doctrine, subscriptions, encompassing a space of not in the exercise of the same liberality, less than seven years, during which time throughout the numerous changes, evoluour late Pastor, Mr. Powell, not only gene- tions and viscissitudes of the church from rously contributed from his own purse, but the period of his ordination in May, 1819, also gave the surplus income of every up to his decease in January, 1846, upwards quarter during that period, as soon as it of twenty-six years, in the most faithful was handed over to him, to promote that manner, with varied success. He was object. But, amongst the most prominent greatly, and very generally beloved by the of the church's benefactors must, in justice members of the church, amongst whom he to him, be mentioned that of Mr. Kentish, was a bright example, and much esteemed its late highly respected deacon, who la- by all who knew him. Amidst the vasboured incessantly in the cause, and by a cillation of many, and the laxity of others, succession of astonishing efforts succeeded of whom might have been hoped better in collecting donations for the payment of things, he was preserved a firm and unthe debt, to the amount of about £500, for flinching advocate for the discriminating which, on his removal to a distant locality, truths of the ever-blessed gospel in their and the consequent resignation of his simplicity and purity, in all its parts and official trust, a vote of thanks was given branches; and an unyielding maintainer him, and duly recorded in the annals of of the privileges of the Lord's House, in the church. its ordinances, according to the primitive example and practices of the apostles. In his manner he was kind, affable, and condescending; and his example was a perpetual rebuke to those less exemplary in their walk and conversation than that observed by him, and recommended or insisted on by the inspired writers. He was never known to depart from his attachment for, and advocacy of truth, or to waiver in his opinions with regard to the proper administration of our Lord's appointed ordinances; being not a Baptist only, but, in every sense of the word, a strict Baptist; and although in the fulfilment of his arduous duties, with zeal and affection, he did not repose on a bed of roses, but understood well the import of his Master's words, 'In the world ye shall have tribulation,' he nevertheless enjoyed his appointed measure of peace. Several precious souls were born again under his ministry, and numbers were instructed, edified, and comforted thereby. His enjoyments of his Master's presence in the pulpit were frequent, and often so abundant as to retard his utterance; and it is believed that he would have almost given a kingdom to have been enabled to set forth in suitable language the beauties of truth, and the loveliness of Jesus, which constituted the basis of his ministrations, as they were then presented to his mind, and revealed to his view. At up-length his tottering taberacle received a shock from the grim tyrant from which he never recovered. After a few days' confinement by illness from his pulpit exercises, in which his soul delighted, his Master called for him. The cold and icy hand of death, with whom he had had frequent and fa miliar converse, disrobed him of mortality, and his happy spirit, (which a few days previous to his departure, had been filled with extreme joy in the contemplation of the eternal felicities which were awaiting him,) took its rapturous flight into the bosom of his beloved Lord and Master.

About the month of June, 1831, an opportunity occurred in the somewhat sudden death of Mr. Choumert, the ground landlord, to purchase the land on which the chapel stands, and the piece of land which adjoins it, by public auction, for £415, and the arrangements were completed on the 23rd of that month. £150 of the purchasemoney was advanced by a member of the church at 4 per cent. (which was soon repaid); and a loan of £200 was obtained by Mr. Powell from Mrs. Colton, who subsequently resigned her claim of the principal, to serve the cause, only retaining for her own use during her life time, her title to the interest, a liability of the church which has long since expired by her decease. The land was also invested in the same trusts as those to whom the building had been assigned. At length, by the beginning of the year 1839, the total amount of debt incurred, which had been gradually reducing, became nearly extinct; and the remaining balance having been published at a tea meeting held for receiving the quarter's contribution for the payment of the debt, to be about £14, a check for that amount was generously presented to the treasurer, by the late Mr. Hollawell, of South Grove, Peckham, leaving the church in undisturbed possession of a handsome, commodious, unencumbered, and well-secured FREEHOLD, for which had been paid wards of £1,800, a matter which demands our grateful praise.

The present recognition being the first which has been celebrated in our present house of prayer, we have thought it best, under the circumstances, thus to record a simple history of the rise and progress of the church and its temporalities, and to render a public summary statement of our stewardship of those resources, which by donations and subscriptions were from time to time committed to our charge for its erection. If we have trespassed on your patience by our prolixity, we doubt not that our motives will be understood, and admitted as a sufficient apology.

We were now left as sheep having no shepherd. We sought council and direction from on high at our various meetings

Our late venerable pastor, Mr. Powell, | for prayer and supplication, relative to the

ministers who should succeed our late pastor in his pulpit labours; and we resolved, in the strength of the Lord not to invite any who did not preach substantially the same discriminating truths we had been accustomed to hear, and determined to reject those from the service, who, though they might hold the truths clearly in point of doctrine, whose lives denied their influence. The officers of the church, to whom this onerous and responsible duty was assigned, have for themselves and the church gratefully to acknowledge the divine goodness in directing them generally to acceptable supplies-to men of sterling truth and character.

We continued throughout our bereaved and widowed estate, steadfastly watching for our Lord's gracious hand in the cloud which was then passing over us, in prayerful hope that he would in the issue render our course plain and easy. We had, however, fully resolved on following the advice of a beloved brother and aged minister, now present, an experienced tactician in church discipline, not to lay hands suddenly, on any man, fully determining, as light should be communicated to our understandings, not to run before, but to follow the cloud. We could not see our way clear to invite any of the brethren who had passed before us, to fill the pastoral office, until the Lord, in his providence, directed our dearly beloved, and respected brother Moyll to us. He had preached for us, on several occasions on the Lord's Days, and for a succession of Wednesday evenings, during a period of many months. The word was much blessed to us, as a church, and to the people, and was rendered generally very profitable throughout the whole period of his probation. During his sojournment amongst us, we were informed that there were some indications of his ultimate removal from the church in Artillery Street; and after having ascertained the correctness of the report, we begged him to give us early information of that event, should it be his resolve; at the same time giving him a distinct and unqualified assurance that we did not, by any means, desire to deprive that church of his valuable services contrary to his and their wishes to retain them. We received a letter from him dated the 19th of July last, expressive of his determination to resign the pastorate of that church, and that he should give them three months' notice to that effect, at their next meeting. This resolution was made known by him to the church, accordingly on that occasion, and met with considerable opposition from several of the members, and was followed by an affectionate memorial, signed by about sixty of their number, entreating him to revoke his determination; but as the causes which gave rise to this notice of withdrawment were not, and could not be removed by them, he remained steadfast in his resolution, while he expressed himself to have felt most acutely the necessity for removal

from a church whose members he dearly loved, many of whom were the fruits of his ministry, and where he had laboured for a period embracing upwards of sixteen years.

Regarding our own character as a church with scrupulous care, and impressed deeply with the injustice we should render to a sister church by endeavouring to withdraw from them by ANY INFLU ENCE, open or sinister, we were on our guard PARTICULARLY on this point, and refrained from any movement in the way of invitation to him, until the cloud before our eyes had disappeared; and a negative had been given by him to the memorial referred to.

At length we received full intelligence that our course was open; and after meeting for prayer, and the consideration of the important subject on the 7th of August last, we forwarded an unanimous invitation to our dear pastor to supply the pulpit for three months on probation, with a view to the pastorate, which by his expressed desire was contracted to one month at first, to ascertain what demonstrative proofs of success to his ministry our Lord would be pleased to grant. The word was manifestly blest in a special way and manner during this first month's probation, and there was an increased attendance of hearers. The invitation was therefore unhesitatingly renewed and accepted for the remaining two months; and increased success attended the word spoken by him to the assembly, and the truths were delivered by his servant with a fervour, affection, and energy, which at once evinced that a divine unction pervaded his spirit. The continued proofs of success being numerous, the church again assembled on the 23rd of December last, to decide by ballot the question of his final call to the pastorate over us, (which had previously met with the approval and sanction of the late highly esteemed and venerable Mr. John Stevens, his and our mutual friend, and other Baptist Ministers of sound faith and practice, with whom we had held communications on the subject) when he was unanimously chosen to fill that solemn trust, and the invitation was accordingly given. After a few days' deliberation, our pastor favoured us with a reply to our resolution, couched in the most faithful and affectionate terms, pourtraying the great anxiety he felt on the subject to follow the directions of the Lord, without leaning to his own understanding. After taking a rather enlarged and comprehensive view of the field of his anticipated labours; first of the discouraging aspect, and then the encouragements he had to go forward in the cause, he briefly summed up his remarks, and minutely weighed the whole in contrast with each other, and concluded by stating his own mind to be impressed with the expediency of another invitation for three months being substituted for the final call. This impression, which had been deduced from the circumstances, he however thought best ONLY to submit to the church for THEIR GUIDANCE, as merely expressive of his own wishes, but at the

« PreviousContinue »