Page images
PDF
EPUB

earlier efforts to carry the Gospel among the heathen, with few exceptions, were carried on under the sanction and control of civil rulers, and many of them for political purposes. But that system of benevolence which has it source in individual piety-in that love to God and man which seeks to expand itself in doing good to the most wretched and needy-and which manifests itself in the spirit of self-consecration to the service of God, and an enlarged liberality in supporting his cause, is traceable to a late period—a period since the commencement of the great revival of evangelical piety under the labors of Wesley, Whitefield, and others; and it may be justly set down as one of the fruits of that remarkable work. The spirit of benevolence, as it appears in the institutions of the day, is peculiar in almost all respects, and shines eminently in comparison with every thing which has passed under that name, excepting only that of the earliest ages of Christianity. It aims not at human aggrandizement. It is not narrowed down to the contracted limits of a sectarian bigotry, or to sectional and local prejudices. It comes not to the objects it proposes to bless, carrying the cross in one hand and the sword in the other, demanding at once faith in Him who is represented by the one, and a servile submission to the dreaded despot who enforces his mandates by the other. Such abuses of the precious cross have begotten in the breasts of many of the poor heathen a just abhorrence of all who came to them in the name of missionaries of Christ. But it comes to them breathing good will—and thereby dispelling all fear and suspicionand it finds in them a readiness to receive it, and a desire to share in its benefits, so soon as they are brought to appreciate its heavenborn excellences.

In this light we are constrained to view the benevolent institutions which have been gotten up within the last half century; and a single view of what has been effected by them in different parts of the world, and what from their nature and tendency they promise to effect, within the same period to come, affords much reason for thankfulness to God, and encouragement to his people.

To these reflections we have been led by a perusal of the doings of several benevolent societies, whose annual celebrations were held in the city of London, during the months of April and May last. A full account of these proceedings may be found in the Wesleyan Methodist Magazine, for June, 1836; from which we copy. Believing that it will be both interesting and profitable to our readers, we proceed to lay before them such extracts from the proceedings of these meetings, as may serve to give a consecutive view of the whole.

1. THE WESLEYAN METHODIST MISSIONARY Society.- The proceedings preparatory to the anniversary of this society are stated by the editor of the Magazine, as follows:

“We discharge a duty highly gratifying to ourselves, and equally interesting, we are persuaded, to our numerous readers, by putting on permanent record the favor and blessing with which it has pleased God to accompany the proceedings of the Society, during the recent celebration of its anniversary.

“The religious services connected with this occasion commenced very appropriately and profitably, by a public meeting for prayer, held in the Cityroad chapel, on Tuesday evening, April 26th.

" On Wednesday evening, April 27th, the annual meeting of the Auxiliary Society for the London district was held in Great Queen-street chapel. Sir Andrew Agnew, Bart., M. P., kindly presided, and was most cordially welcomed by a crowded and highly respectable assembly, who testified, in no equivocal manner, their deep and unabated interest in that great subjeet with which the name and parliamentary exertions of the honorable baronet are so laudably identified. An able report was read by the Rev. P. C. Turner, one of the district secretaries. The several resolutions were moved and seconded by the Rev. Egerton Ryerson, of Upper Canada ; Joseph Carne, Esq., of Penzance; the Rev. Peter M'Owan, of London; the Rev. ' Samuel Young, late missionary in Caffraria; G. B. Thorneycroft, Esq., of Wolverhampton ; the Rev. Robert Wood, of Manchester; the Rev. John Hannah, of London; Mr. Alderman Pawson, of Leeds ; Lancelot Haslope, Esq., of London; and J. S, Elliot, Esq., of Denmark-hill, Surrey. The collection, which very considerably exceeded that of the preceding year, was liberally aided by a donation of £5 from John Ryle, Esq., M. P. for Macclesfield, accompanied by a letter, in which Mr. Ryle stated liis regret that he was unavoidably prevented from being present at the meeting,

“On Thursday evening, April 28th, the first of the three annual sermond, usually preached before the general society, was preached in the City-road chapel, at the special request of the committee, by the Rev. Jabez Bunting, D.D., of London. The text was Rom. xv, 15-21.

“ The second sermon was delivered in Great Queen-street chapel, on the forenoon of Friday, April 29th, by the Rev. Theophilus Lessey, of Liverpool, who pleaded the cause of the society, which has long recognized him as one of its most laborious and eloquent advocates, in a powerful discourse founded on Malachi i, 11.

“ On Friday evening, April 29th, the Rev. Robert Wood, of Manchester, preached before the society in the Spitalfields chapel, on Rev. vii, 9–17.

The subject,' says one of the public journals, “ formed an appropriate sequel to the preceding discourses, and furnished an appropriate opportunity of glancing at the final results of the missionary enterprise.'

“ On no former occasion, it is believed, were the religious -services preparatory to the general meeting of the society, more distinctly marked by a feeling of hallowed zeal and renewed devotedness to the great cause of God, and of the world's salvation, than that which appeared to influence the congregations of the present year.

“On Sunday, May 1st, the annual sermons for the Wesleyan missions were preached in all the chapels of the connection in London and its iminediate vicinity, by the Rev: Robert Newton, the Rev. Theophilus Lessey, the Rev. Robert Wood, the Rev. Thomas Waugh, of Belfast : the Rev. William Shaw, who is expected shortly to resume his successfnl missionary labors in Caffraria; and the preachers of the London district. To all the ministers. thus employed, the best thanks of the society are respectfully and affection, ately tendered.

“ On Monday, May 2d, the general meeting was held in Exeter Hall ; and continued from eleven o'clock till nearly six. The chair was most ably and

acceptably filled by Sir Oswald Mosley, Baronet, M. P. for North Staffordshire; and, at a later period, when Sır Oswald was obliged to vacate it, by the call of urgent parliamentary duties, by the Right Honorable Lord Mount. sandford. So numerous was the attendance of members and friends, from almost every part of the town and country, that the large hall was quite in. adequate to their reception, and many hundreds were unable to ebtain ad. mission. On the platform there was the usual gratifying assemblage of ministers and gentlemen of other religious denominations, who kindly embraced this opportunity of evincing the catholicity of their spirit, and their generous interest in every department of the cause and work of our common Lord and Saviour. To the Wesleyan society, whose maxim and endeavor it has always been, to prove themselves the friends of all, the enemies of none,' it will ever be a subject of the highest exultation and thankfulness to see their anniversary meeting this distinguished by the presence of those who constitute a sort of practical representation of the various sections of the universal Church of Christ.

The collections and donations received during this anniversary, or in immediate connection with it, were unusually liberal; and our readers will, we are persuaded, find abundant reason, on the review of the whole proceed. ings, to thank God, and take courage.' Yet, let it not be forgotten that the expenditure of the society, as was to be anticipated from the extended and diversified field which its operations now embrace, and from the very large additions lately made to the number of its missionaries, schoolmasters, and other agents, has increased, during the last year, in a proportion far exceeding even the large and glorious increase of its income. Many of our existing stations absolutely require a farther reinforcement of laborers. British India, in particular—which, we have rejoiced to perceive, bas at length begun to attract, in a more just and adequate degree than heretofore, the attention of the various missionary societies of this country, and which furnished, perhaps, the most prominent topic of their recent anniversariesimperatively demands from us all, and from our own society among the rest, more vigorous efforts on behalf of the more than one hundred millions of its wretched and idolatrous inhabitants. Our missions in Caffraria, and in other parts of Southern Africa, must be immediately resumed and enlarged. In the West Indies, "more missionaries, more chapels, more schools, are importunately requested, and are essential to the completion and final success of that great work of mercy which our country has so nobly commenced for the benefit of the negro population, to whom our debt is su large, and chargeable with arrears so peculiarly obligatory on our justice, as well as on our benevolence. New openings, too, present themselves in every direction ; . for the field is the world.' • There remaineth very much land to be possessed.' An annual income even of one hundred thousand pounds mighi, by the promised blessing of God, be usefully expended by our own society alone. Let our friends, therefore, account nothing done, while so much remains undone. Let rich and poor, ministers and people, renew and rrdouble their exertions in this holy cause. Let the steady and regular efforts of the auxiliary and branch societies during the year correspond to the high feel. ing and noble enthusiasm which have been displayed at the public meetings of the parent society, and of other anniversaries recently celebrated. Let prayer-earnest, united, and believing prayer--for the success of the Gospel, be made continually, in every closet, in every family, in every Christian circle and congregation. Let the true and most appalling case of the perishing heathen be more distinctly and continually brought under the notice of the people of this country, in all the height, and depth, and length, and breadth of its enormous wretchedness and peril, by ministers in their pulpits, and by the speakers on our platforms. Let every anniversary sermon and speech be more strictly missionary, in its leading character, and topics, and tendency; avoiding, for the most part, minor and merely incidental subjects and illustrations, lest they should injuriously divert public

attention and feeling from those stirring facts and solemn duties which are directly relevant to the occasion, and which alone can effectually awaken the Church from the slumber of ages, and arouse it to a practical sense of its long neglected duties. The following account of the proceedings at the late meeting in Exeter Hall is taken, with some abridgments, corrections, and additions, from that excellent weekly newspaper, • The Watchman,' of Wed. nesday, May 4th.

" At eleven o'clock, the Rev. Richard Reece, president of the conference, gave out the psalm, . From all that dwell below the skies;' and called upon the Rev. Robert Newton to engage in prayer.

“ Lancelot Haslope, Esq., one of the general treasurers, then announced that Sir Oswald Mosley, Bart., had most kindly accepted the invitation of the committee to preside on this occasion, to which announcement the meeting responded by unanimous cheers."

Sir Oswald Mosley, on taking the chair, made the following frank and ingenuous avowal of the feelings he entertained toward the society, and the motives which induced him to comply with the invitation he had received to serve them as chairman of the meeting.

“I owe it, my friends, in justice to myself, and also for your satis. faction, perhaps, to make a few observations upon the reasons that have induced me to accept the elevated position which I have now the honor of filling. A sincere and devoted member, as I am, of the established Church of England, and an ardent admirer of her doctrines and discipline, I did, I confess, at first, feel some degree of hesitation in identi. fying myself, as it were, with a society that differed from her, in however slight a degree. But my friends, when I considered that your great founder was a most eminent and bright example of excellence in our established Church-when I also knew, that many of my friends around me-indeed, I might almost say, I hope, all belonging to the Wesleyan society-have most fearlessly and inanfully stood forward in advocating the cause of our established Church, at a period when it is surrounded by no common dangers ; above all, when I recollected the labor of love in which you are engaged, and the extent of your operations in every part of the world, every shadow of a doubt was dissipated from my mind; I at once cordially embraced the invitation that was offered to me; and I here tender my poor services in aid of a society whose desire is to evangelize the whole world. Happv am I to perceive, my friends, from a perusal of some of your past reports, that general success has attended your efforts. Happy am I to perceive that new stations are called for in the most remote parts of the world ; that stations already occupied by your missionary societies have increased doubly and trebly their members within a few years; and that you have now some thou. sands of children under your care, of benighted heathens, educating them in the pure principles and doctrines of Christianity. But, my friends, the Lord has thus far been pleased to crown your labors with success ; and I would hambly ask, why he has been graciously pleased to do so? Because the plan of your operations is founded upon the • Rock of ages ;' because you preach to the distant nations of the world • Christ Jesus and him cruci. fied ;' because you, like the great apostle of the Gentiles, step forward to tell the heathen nations, that both Jews and Gentiles are poor sinners by nature -that none of them can be justified before God by any works of the law ; because, moreover, you tell them that no one can come to Christ Jesus to be saved, except through the operations of the Holy Spirit. It is, my friends, on these purely scriptural doctrines, that you have planted your standard on a foundation that cannot be shaken ; your good cause will go on prospering and to prosper, until, in the words of the hymn you have just sung,

" Suns shall rise and set no more."

My friends, armed in this way, your missionaries go forth from their native land; they take the word of God, that sword of the Spirit, whose Divine power is able to overcome all difficulties. They traverse alike the dark dense forests of North America, and the arid plains of Southern Africa ; they brave the rigid cold of the high Alps, and the oppressive heat of a West Indian climate ; they go forward in their Christian course, sowing the seeds of Gospel truth in the remote islands of the Pacific Ocean, in Van Diemen's Land, in New Zealand, and in all the most remote corners of the earth. The fields are already white to the harvest; and you have only to send forth more laborers into the harvest to collect the fruits of what has been so auspiciously sown. Many difficulties have already been overcome. There was one great difficulty which the labors of the society had to eneounter; I mean the diversity of languages—that permanent proof of the past presumption of rebellious man; but now the diversity of languages forms no longer an insuperable barrier to the labors of the missionaries. Aided by the benevo. lence of this society, and that of kindred societies also, they have been enabled to overcome that great difficulty. The press, that powerful engine for good or for evil, has been introduced into distant climes. The fruits of that press are able either to make men wise unto salvation, or, on the other hand, they are able to taint with polluting poison the inmost recesses of the soul. Thank God, you have employed the press for the legitimate use of magnifying the great God who made us. My friends, thus armed with the powers of the press, and above all with the energy of an almighty power, what is there to uppose your progress ? I feel that it would be an act of im. pertinence, on my part, farther to trespass on your time ; particularly when I know that you will have a most able report read to you, in which the operations of the society, during the past year, will be fully exhibited; and when I know that the subject will be farther elucidated by the powerful speeches of many gentlemen who are about to address you from this platform. I shall no longer intrude upon your time than to request the secre. tary to be kind enough to read the report.”

Dr. Bunting, one of the secretaries, read an extract of the report, upon which,

SIR ANDREW AGNEW, Bart., M. P. for Wigtonshire, arose to move the following resolution, viz :

“That the Report, of which an abstract has now been read, be received and printed."

The speaker commenced by commending the report, particularly that feature of it which represented the missionaries as going to the heathen with “ the simple story of the cross." “I venture to prophesy,” said he, " that if they are but faithful in that one truth, the noble design of your great founder will one day be realized.” After noticing some of the facts detailed in the report, he added, “Your report contains nothing but that which is gratifying ;—a large increase of missions, if I understand right,-a large increase of missionaries,-and an increase of funds:" In alluding to some opposition with which one of the missionaries had met in Spain, he said, “I am pleased with that portion of the report; opposition is absolutely necessary to stimulate us to exertion; it is required to call out our énergies, and to drive the lukewarm from their strongholds." As one of the warm advocates in parliament, of reform

« PreviousContinue »