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THE APPROACHING SPECIAL SERVICES TO PROMOTE A
GENERAL REVIVAL OF RELIGION IN THE CONNEXION.
The last Lord's day in August is general attention and interest. While the time appointed by the late Con- discourses from the pulpit are faithference for the commencement of ful, pointed, and heart-searching, special and simultaneous religious bearing expressly upon the object services throughout the Connexion, placed before us, there should be for humiliation before God and such arrangements made in every prayer for the general outpouring of Circuit and in every Society as will his Holy Spirit. We hail this ap- afford ample opportunity for social pointment, and so will the thousands prayer and fellowship meetings. The of our Israel. We have no doubt special outpouring of the Spirit upon it will be generally observed, and we our Churches should be the prevailhope it will be so observed as the ing theme of our meditations and occasion demands. Glad shall we prayers; for if we obtain this in rich be to find that the occasion proves and abundant measure, we obtain a season of holy quickening to be- every other spiritual good. “Give lievers, restoration to backsliders, ear, o Shepherd of Israel, thoti that and salvation to many precious leadest Joseph like a flock ; thou souls. The intended services should that dwellest between the cherubim be made a topic of frequent conver- shine forth. Before Ephraim, and sation and earnest prayer. Our Benjamin, and Manasseh stir up thy friends should be made thoroughly strength, and come and save us. acquainted with the objects contem Turn us again, O God, and cause thy plated, and pains taken to excite face to sbine, and we shall be saved."
LAYING OF FOUNDATION-STONE OF Ziox CHAPEL, LEES. -MOBSLEY CIRCUIT.-MR. EDITOR.--I am happy to inform you that we are now doing what ought long since to have been done, viz., pulling down the old chapel and schools, and erecting larger and more convenient ones. The schools are completed, and will afford good accommodation for 500 scholars. The chapel is in course of erection, and is expected to be finished by the end of September. The foundation-stone was laid on Saturday afternoon, June 5th, 1852. At one o'clock, the ministers, friends, teachers, and scholars assembled in the new schools, formed into a procession, and walked through the village and surrounding neighbourhood. About three o'clock we returned to the site of the new chapel. The open-air services were commenced by our highly respected superintendent, the Rev. T. W. Ridley, giving out a hymn, which was heartily sung by the congregation. The Rev. C. Atkinson offered prayer, and the Rev. H. Watts read a suitable portion of Scripture. The Rev. T. W. Ridley made a few remarks, and then presented a silver trowel and mahogany mallet to William Halliwell, Esq., of Clayton-house, Spring
head, Lees, who laid the stone in the usual way, accompanying the ceremony with a short and appropriate speech. The Rev. Wm. Shuttleworth delivered a very able address, which he had specially prepared for the occasion. After the address was finished and prayer offered, we retired to the school and enjoyed ourselves over a refreshing cup of tea. The tea being over, Wm. Halliwell, Esq. (in the absence of J. Buckley, Esq., of Mossley), was unanimously called to the chair. Addresses were given by the Revs. C. Atkinson, H. Watts, I. Stoney, and G. Wood, Mr. Thomas Hannam, and the chairman. The meeting separated at an early hour, much gratified with the day's proceedings. When the chapel is completed, a longer account will be given.
Lecs, June 14th, 1852. S. B. C.
ADDRESS. TO THE EDITOR.- DEAR BROTHER. At the special request of our esteemed friends at Lees (Mossley Circuit), I furnish you with the following Address, delivered 5th June, on the occasion of laying the corner-stone of their new chapel.
I have considerably abridged it on several accounts. I have, however, retained such portions as I supposed would prove most gratifying to them and most useful to your general readers, in the form, or nearly so, in which they were delivered. Other portions, inclosed within brackets, are designed merely to preserve the unity of the entire address, and are expressed in as few words as possible. I commit the whole to you, either to reduce more or to throw into any shape that may suit your taste and your editorial arrange ments, knowing as I do, that you must be controlled, in some degree, by the more detailed communication, narrating the ceremonies that took place when the address was delivered, which, I understand, will be furnished to you by some friend on the spot who witnessed the whole.
FRIENDS OF CHRIST, --I am glad to meet you on this interesting occasion. I will say too, that high as my gratification is, it would not have been reduced had I to take a less prominent part than that assigned me by the partiality or kindness of the friends appointed to carry out the arrangements connected with the impressive, and yet not ostentatious ceremony of the day.
To some esteemed friends present it is well known that I am a somewhat reluctant occupier of my present position, and tried to avoid it, offering to barter it for other services more laborious to myself, that I might be released from the service I now shrinkingly undertake.
But understand me. Not that I am insensible to the honour conferred-not that I am uninterested in the present important movementnot that I cannot and do not rejoice in any and all feasible operations tending to extend Messiah's kingdom and to promote the best inte rests of my fellow-men, and especially of my fellow.countrymen. But I was not unwilling to hope that some one could be found who, if he did not and could not bring to the work a heartier goodwill, might be in various ways much more influential and efficient, and better adapted to the undertaking. But no! I was kindly assailed by my respected
friend, Mr. Atherton; and who is there can resist such appeals as he can put forth ? Had he been a stern, absolute, domineering man, I could have managed him easily and have escaped. But his Christian kindli. ness and intreaty, together with his general character as a man and & religious professor, were absolutely resistless—at least I could not resist bim; and I hesitatingly appear before you, not to do as I could wish, but as best I can; and you, my friends, must take the will for the deed.
I commence by observing, that, on this occasion, I shall, doubtless, be expected to state who we are as a body of professing Christians, and what are our prominent distinguishing peculiarities.
[On these particulars, remarks somewhat at length and in detail were made on our adoption, as Christians, of such religious opinions as are considered evangelical by all Churches throughout the world, and wbich constitute us sound in the faith. It was observed, too, that we are Dissenters both in practice and profession, and call ourselves" Protestant Dissenters," in all our legal documents, though not enemies to such as adhere to the Established Church, they having a right to adopt such officers and such a ritual as their Church enjoins, if it meet their views; only we demurred against being compelled to sustain them, as we hold that all Churches sbould be supported voluntarily, and that no Church sbould possess superior legal privileges over another.]
We think, too, that if worldlypolicy would let religion alone, or, as Milton expresses it “ leave the Church to the Church," and permit it to stand, and walk, and work in its own strength, it would advance with giant strides, and the sooner traverse and subdue the world.
(It was then asked, if such as represented us as enemies to the Church wonld not think it unjust and oppressive, and an infraction on their righis, if the Legislature were to pass a law compelling them to support us, or other sects, to the amount of some millions a year; and left the answer with the hearers, not donbting it would barmonize with the golden, scriptural rule, requiring men to do to others as they wish others to do to them ; we holding, with Cromwell, that “liberty of conscience is a natural right;
and he that would bave it ought to give it." It was then remarked that we were Methodisls, holding and teaching the doctrines taught by the venerated founder of Methodism, whose memory and labours were dear to our hearts. But that, after all, we were Methodists of the New Connexion, differing in several respects from our Wesleyan brethren; yet that these differences were not doctrinal, but in Church-polity.]
We are a representative people, having no Church-meetings whatever from wbich our people are excluded. [And instanced our leaders' meetings,
$, our quarterly, our district, and our annual meetings or Conferences, in all of whieb the people have an influence and & voice, and assist in making and in executing the laws by which both they and the ministers are governed; we having no meetings which would be accounted constitutional without their presence. It was then observed and dwelt upon at some length, that on some occasions (not so much of late as formerly) we had been grossly misrepresented and calum niated, by being represented as disaffected to the Government of our country and disloyal to our Sovereign; whereas the fact was, we were a religious and not a political body, whose published rules enjoined it as “the duty of all our people to submit themselves to the constituted authorities of the State ; to maintain the laws of the land; and to implore the Divine blessing on kings, governors, magistrates, and on all classes of our fellow-subjects." And that our whole history showed, as did the conduct of our ministers and people in that neighbourhood, that we were a loyal and Christian people. To illustrate our representative character, for the sake of those present belonging to other communities, a detailed account was given of the manner in which all our Churcb-meetings are consiitnted, from cur leaders'-meetings up to our annual Conferences; the latter of which was so regulated as to render the preachers and lay-persons consti tuting them as nearly equal in numbers as practicable. ]
The Wesleyan Conference (it was observed) consists of preachers only Without quarrelling with them on this score (for they have a right to have it so if they list), we may be allowed in all charity to say, we humbly think that we have Scripture warrant for our custom; and sup
pose that they have not the same clear authority for theirs.
We know, too, that another branch of the Wesleyan family (perhaps more than one), constitutes its an. nual meetings not on the equality principle, but claims the right of sending to its Conferences some two or more laymen for one preacher. It, moreover, claims the right not to send to Conference any preacher at all, if it so choose; and to send thither, if it has more preachers than one in its Circuit, which of them it likes, irrespective of superintendency. We question not its right, nor do we further quarrel with such arrangements than mo. destly to state, that we think ours is the more excellent way, and to offer a few brief considerations in its vindication. We think, that where the ministry is unequally borne upon, or overborne, by lay-influence, the spirit of New Testament teaching is not properly sustained ; that there is not sufficient respect paid to an officer, said to be "worthy of double honour;" and that, generally speaking, talent, refined feelings, and high moral and mental worth are more likely to be repulsed than won where this prevails. We think, too, that where all the ministers in a Circuit are equally eligible for choice as representatives to Conference, that almost any succumbing, designing, selfish, coarse-minded sycophant may, by a little adroitness, become the object of choice, in preference to a better qualified and more dignified person, who will not and cannot stoop to any course that would lower self-respect; at least, the temptation is obviously in this direction, and may, to say the least, produce jenlousy and disunion among the preachers, to say nothing of the mig. chievous plottings and ill-feelings that may be ongendered in societies by favouritism and petty spleen.
And, then, as to the superior eligibility of the superintendent going to Conference, as a rule, and except in very extraordinary cases, we see nothing so proper, as it is sending him back again to meet that body which has intrusted him with the care of a Circuit, to give them an account of his stewardship
Indeed, it seems to us like a mockery of responsibility, if he is not thus held responsible, and considered as the most proper, and the only proper person to return at the close of the year to those who, at its commencement, confided to him an important trust. I know it has been said that our regulations, requiring a close approximation to eqnality in numbers, between preachers and laymen in Conference, is open to objection, inasnuch as ministers, being more in the habit of public speak ing than lay-bretbren, hare a manifest advantage in debate. I demur to the objection in toto, so far as our Conferences are concerned, and aver that laymen, in this respect, labour under no disadvantage whaterer. Besides, many of them are local preachers, and are otherwise engaged as public men, and are accustomed to take an active part in their Churches at home, and are in no ways, for confidence and inclination too, a whit behind those who are their ministers, as a whole. And then, again, let it be remembered that, in all our other Church-meetings con nected with Circuit operations, our ministers are very, very few, while our lay-brethren are numerous; and surely it may be endured, by even the most fastidious laymen, to stand with them numerically equal once a year, and especially in a meeting where laws are made to govern all. Besides, though myself have been, and still am, I suppose, as much identified with the ministry as the laity, and even more, I am no ways indisposed to confess that, on the whole, ministers, from their pursuits and early disassociation from business habits (supposing they ever possessed them), are not, and, perhaps, never may be, the most apt and fertile in, and conversant with, the routine of the mere secularities of even Connexional operations.
I have said thus much on this subject, not to satisfy our own friends with our arrangements, for they are not dissatisfied with them, but to show to others that we can assign some reasons for our regulations, and that they will bear reflection and examination. And we observe, too,
that we are the first and oldest reformers connected with the Wesleran family, and. I am willing to hure, have learned, and are still learning, not being, perhaps, yet perfect, a Little from experience, and I think I may venture to say, in my own name (not a youth), and in the name of Lot a few of our more discreet and soberminded friends, that our own bodris based fulls on as broad a principle of liberality as can be practicalls and successfully sustained. Ministers, while brethreu, most bare their legi. timate and scriptural position, or you cannot animate them with that boly enthusiasm and devotion whiel are absolutely necessary to secure the desirable prosperity of your Chuches. You must have gifted, cultivated men, men of piety and refined expanded views, or your Churches will droop and die. And men of this stamp, as a rule, will shrink from your ministry, and aroid it, tow, if cramped, and fettered, and humiliatel beyond the requirements of reason and the teachings of Holy Wirt. Be most careful whom rou choose to the sacred office; but when chosen, let them stand in their proper position, on the ground marked out for them in the Word of God. I have thus spoken, not to assail others-far from it-but to tutor and vindicate our. selves.
Having said thus much on matters connected with the community at large, I now turn to the more immediate object which has brought us together on this cheering occasion. And here I observe that I sincerely congratulate our friends on their attempt to extend their borders, by the erection of a new and enlarged place of worship ; and devoutly pray that their work may be begun and finished in the fear of God; and that, when their Zion is reared and devoted to religious purposes, it may be covered with the cloud of God's presence, and filled with the divine glory--prove a special blessing to this interesting neighbourhood, by becoming signal for conversions to God. I know a little of your bistory, furnished principally by our mutual friend, now present, Mr.John Andrew, one of the fathers of our interest in
this place; and I rejoice to know that it presents a record of steady, gradual development. You commenced, in 1827, with some three or four pious individuals, driven by then existing circumstances to scrutinize care fully, and, I trust, prayerfully, our polity as a Christian community The result was a conviction that it could be sustained by substantial reasons, and an adhesion to our cause. Your first public worship was conducted in the house of John Haworth, by my old, revered friend, Mr. T. Halkyard, of Mossley. The attendance was good and cheering, The next service was conducted by Mr. Hillock, a Circuit preacher from Ashton, in the house of Mr. J. An drew, the preacher standing in the lobby of the house that the people, crowding the different rooms, might hear the better. Succeeding supplies continued to visit the place. In terest was excited, and the congregations continued to increase. At length a large room was taken for stated worship and the establishment of a school. This soon became too small for your congregations and scholars, and a larger room, an upper one, ranging over other rooms beneath it, was engaged. This was fitted up as a preaching-place, and for the accommodation of school-classes, and was opened by an early Christian friend of mine, recently deceased, Mr. Makinson, of Manchester. Here the congregation and the school con tinued to flourish, and the Society increased from seven to nineteen.
Awhile after, a chapel was contemplated, and, in 1829, was built, with a sehool beneath it, considered at the time neat and commodious (thirty-six feet wide and forty-two feet long). This chapel was opened for divine service by Mr. Fox, and my esteemed friend, Mr. Allin; and has proved with its school, as you well know, a signal blessing to the neighbourhood, and the spiritual birth place of many precious souls. The school was speedily filled to such a degree as to compel (painful task !) its conductors to decline fresh ap. plications for admission. To remedy this crying want, and to meet the pressing claims of the
locality, an additional school, one storey high, was erected, the congregation and society meanwhile steadily advancing. Recently, a second storey has been added to the building, a noble room, the school still flourishing; and now you are engaged in building a large house for God, not having, at all times, adequate and comfortable accommodation for your congregation and scholars in your once commodious chapel. Your schools, I learn, are good and improving on the whole, with cheering prospects. You have a dayschool, consisting of more than 300 scholars, conducted by an efficient and respected teacher; you have Sunday-schools equally encouraging ; and a Society of 127 members, and & congregation, considered in its present and prospective state, such as warrants you to take the step on which you have now entered, and to further which we are this day met in large numbers. May God bless and succeed your pious undertaking!
I think I learned from a late correspondence with my friend Atherton, that our people in this place have not engaged in their proposed undertaking without having respect to pecuniary obligation. Indeed, had it been otherwise, I should feel that of all persons I am the most improper and the least likely to stand before you this day as I now do. Happily, however, I am authorized to say of our friends here, that theirs is no reckless, haphazard undertakingthey have sat down and counted the cost in the fear of God, and are prepared, and determined too, to do their utmost to place their entire premises in as easy circumstances as possible, consistent with necessary accommodation and the convenience and comfort required : hoping, in a few years, should no untoward circumstances arise, to be prepared, by the blessing of God, to sweep the debt entirely away. This is a noble resolve, and worthy of the men, being alike creditable to their feelings, and judgment, and piety.
But then, while they resolve to give their hearts to this work, and to make sacrifices of time, and labour, and worldly substance, they have, of