« ZurückWeiter »
lication on missions about the same time, by the Rey. Melville Horne, produced a powerful effect on the public mind among Christians of every denomination. During the first months of 1795, the subject of this memoir, with various others of the evangelical ministers in London, held frequent meetings for conference and prayer; and it was at last resolved to invite the leading ministers in the several counties of the kingdom to co-operate. In the month of July 1795, it was announced in the “ Evangelical Magazine,” that a meeting would be held in London, in September, for the formation of a Missionary Society. A numerous meeting was accordingly held at Spa Fields chapel, on the 22d of September, including about two hundred ministers of different denominations; when Mr. Haweis, rector of Aldwinkle, preached on Mark, xvi. 15,—“ Go ye into all the world, and preach the Gospel to every creature.” After the service, the meeting agreed to form themselves into a Missionary Society; and a committee, consisting of Messrs. Bogue, Eyre, Greatheed, Haweis, Hey, Hill, Kingsbury, Lambert, Love, Reynolds, Lathon, Steven, and Waugh, were appointed to bring forward the plan of the new society.
The Scotch Presbyterian churches in London were not backward in the formation of this union. The Rev. Dr. Henry Hunter, the Rev. John Love, the Rev. James Steven, and the Rev. Alexander Waugh, appeared, if it may be so expressed, as the representatives of their country. Of Dr. Hunter, nothing need be said,-his works praise
him in the gate. The Rev. John Love (afterwards the foreign secretary of the Missionary Society) was a man less known-of deep and various learning - of eminently exalted piety. With a dove-like simplicity, he possessed one of the kindest hearts that ever warmed a human bosom. But his habits of thinking rendered his style deficient in perspicuity ; and his address as a preacher was slow, and not attractive to a London audience. Hence the man who was qualified by his learning, wisdom, and piety, to enlighten the metropolis, was restricted to a small congregation in an obscure chapel, until he was afterwards called to the exercise of his ministry in his native land, among persons more ready, and perhaps more competent to appreciate his worth. The Rev. James Steven was a man of highly respectable attainments as a scholar and as a divine, and was a popular preacher. The Rev. A. Waugh was the youngest, and (after Dr. Hunter) by far the most attractive man. The following account of his appearance at that period is communicated by a reverend friend of a different religious connexion, but a zealous coadjutor in the same noble field :-" I first saw him on the morning when this society was formed, at Spa Fields chapel. He was then in the vigour of manhood : his figure was tall and well proportioned ; his countenance was benignant and majestic, and yet retaining the glow of youth; his bushy locks mantled his athletic shoulders; his large dark eyes beamed with poetic fire ; his mind bore the fruits of a ten years' abode in the
academic groves of his native land, while it was still richer in theological and biblical stores.”— Such were the leading members of this voluntary association for advancing the kingdom of Christ among the heathen.
It is worthy of commemoration, that Dr.Waugh always reflected with great pleasure on having bad the honour to be the framer of the fundamental principle of the London Missionary Society, -a principle which has been of such vital importance to its great harmony and extensive usefulness, by including all parties of Christians in its constitution, and expressly excluding the propagation of all party tenets. This resolution, which is preserved in the records of the society in his own hand-writing, is as follows:
"As the union of God's people of various denominations, in carrying on this great work, is a most desirable object; so, to prevent, if possible, any cause of future dissension, it is declared to be a fundamental principle of the Missionary Society, that our design is not to send Presbyterianism, Independency, Episcopacy, or any other form of church order and government (about which there may be a difference of opinion among serious persons), but the glorious Gospel of the blessed God, to the heathen ; and it shall be left (as it ought to be left) to the minds of the persons whom God may call into the fellowship of his Son from among them, to assume for themselves such form of church government as to them shall appear most agreeable to the word of God.”
The following observations are communicated
by a much-respected fellow-labourer in the same cause :-" To a society so constituted, Mr. Waugh gave himself not by halves, but entirely and for ever. It grew into all the height of his mental and moral nature; it enlarged and filled and elevated his soul to the latest hour of his life. Time would fail to tell the deep interest which he took in all its concerns; in its earlier correspondence at home and abroad, to interest and engage wise and good men in its behalf; in defending it from the misrepresentations and calumnies of its opponents; in journeying often, to replenish its funds, in England, Scotland, and Ireland ; in sermons preached on public occasions; and in charges to missionaries at their solemn designation to their office. It is indeed to be regretted, that so few specimens remain to inform those who knew him not, how deeply its interests engaged his heart."
The rise of the Missionary Society he justly deemed a new era in the history of the church. Such an ardent and extensive zeal for the conversion of heathen nations to the faith of the Gospel, accompanied with the cordial co-operation of religious persons of every communion, bad not appeared since the first ages of Christianity. From the commencement of this institution, he felt a deep and warm interest in its success; and never were the energies of his mind or the affections of his heart so fully called into exercise as when pleading the cause of the Missionary Society, or when labouring to extend its influence and increase the number of its friends. He always spoke of himself as a debtor to this society for the high sphere of usefulness it opened to his exertions, for the many valuable friendships of great and good men to which it admitted him, and for the distinguished respect in which he was held by the religious public, which, with his characteristic modesty, he was ever ready to acknowledge was far above his desert. Prior to the rise of the Missionary Society he was little known beyond the circle of his own religious connexions; and, like many other good men, might have lived and died without attracting public notice for eminent usefulness, had he not come in contact with an object peculiarly calculated to excite to the utmost exertion the energies of a mind constituted like his. His connexion with this institution will transmit his name to posterity among the friends and benefactors of the human race, who will be gratefully remembered in future ages for their labours and their zeal in diffusing the knowledge of the Gospel, and the arts of civilised life, among the rude and barbarous nations of the earth.
On occasion of the second anniversary meeting of the Missionary Society, he preached at the Tabernacle, May 10, 1797, from Philippians, ii. 14, 15, 16 : “ Do all things without murmurings and disputings; that ye may be blameless and harmless, the sons of God without rebuke, in the midst of a crooked and perverse nation, among whom ye shine as lights in the world; holding forth the word of life.”
“ Christians,” he observes,“ are lights in the world, in the midst of a crooked and perverse nation. The original word rendered - lights,' it is