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disadvantageous, if not unfair. If he regularly takes in the Congregational, the Eclectic, or the Patriot, he pays for the support of the pledged advocacy of an Institution which, with reference to his views of Independency, he sincerely disapproves. Even if bis sentiments may just get admission in an occasional article, the editorial weight of the publication, with all its adventitious and acquired general influence, to which perhaps he has hitoself in part contributed, is brought to bear with overwhelming power against him on the particular point. This is regularly jumping into the lion's mouth. It is true, that from the necessity of the case, there must be some general differences of opinion between the editors and conductors of a periodical and some of its individual supporters; but in the case of publications professing to be, and asking for public support as the impartial and general organs of a class or denomination, if they take a decided part on some great und important question of honest doubt and difficulty aniong the body which they profess generally to represent, is there quite fair play? A professedly denominational periodical should, it is most respectfully submitted, while it professes 10 expect general support from the class among which the important difference of opinion exists, consider itself in the place rather of a moderator and guide of the discussion, than in that of an advocate, much less of a leading and able partisan.* A time may come, when the question must be put ; and if the large majority, not of separate associations, but of the whole denomination equally and fairly represented, shall deliberately pronounce its final decision, the insignificant minority, whether right or wrong, must bow, at least with respect, if not with obedience, to the result. As it occurs to the writer, however, the Union, this is not said with the slightest intention of taunt or disparagement,) according to the interesting document advertised in your columns, admits and deplores that it has not yet met with so much success as the apparent grandeur of its plan might at first have led its excellent founders to expect.
The object of this communication being principally to submit, with much esteem and respect, the views already above expressed, it is not now intended to go generally into the arguments against such a plan as that of the Union; although the writer knows that there are those prepared to do so if fair opportunity be afforded.
There is, however, a subject which the address you so powerfully recommend itself introduces, that seems to call for present remark. The able writers of it appear to suppose, that those who disapprove of the Union, object abstractedly and positively, under any circumstances, and by any society, to the propagation of the Gospel in connexion with Independent or Congregational principles. Evident allusion is here made to the Colonial Mission. Now, there may be some who may doubt the Christian expediency of a prominent and primary reference to the really secondary, however important, questions of church government, on a system, the main object of which professedly is the simple annunciation, propagation, and spread of the great gospel message of salvation and redemption. But it is apprehended that few, if any, Independent Dissenters would object, on principle, to a Society, (if it can be shown to be expedient,) which, possessing a liberul und equitable constitution, should announce for its object the evangelization of the world, in connexion with the planting and settling of Christian churches on the beautiful principles of the primitive example. But such a Society might not, in the opinion of some, necessarily require such a constitution as that unother Institution, that is one not as a matter
# The editor is compelled to say, that in these observations the ease is uot fairly put. Most readers would suppose, from the remarks of the “ Layman," that papers, inviting discussion upon the merits of the Union, bave been suppressed by the editor. Now, his full conviction is, that no papers have been received from any quarter, impugning the Union, since the date of its formation. Anterior to that event, the subject was freely discussed in the pages of this Magazine, as the Index of the Volume for 1831 will show. The editor can assure the " Layman," or any other eqnally respectable writer, that had be communicated his objections to him, they would have been inseried without prejudice in the Congregational Magazine. That man must be ignorant, indeed of the Independent churches of Great Britain, who hopes to promote any object among them by stifling discussion. VOL. I. N.S.
of course constituted and made up of the subscribers to the particular mission, should arrogate to itself the entire government and management of the latter,
This leads to a subject second only in importance to the independency of the churches-the proper structure and constitution of our great voluntary societies. The principle of the Bible Society is, that every annual subscriber of a certain annount is a constituent member. It is a collection of these members, along with their invited friends, that is supposed to be assembled and present at the general meeting, when the report is read, accounts are explained, and officers appointed. It is the same in the plans of our great Missionary Societies, and of most other of our noble, religious, and benevolent institutions, Ilere is no delegation; no government by delegation. The effective movers and sustainers, so far as human agency is concerned, -the money-payers - are the ultimate governors. They are the sovereign power in the last resort. But if the writer has not been greatly mistaken, the Colonial Mission is not merely a new Missionary Society for the propagation of the Gospel by Congregationalists, and for the spread of Congregationalism, (10 which upon principle, separate from a present view of practical Christian expediency, the writer expresses no objection); but it is a Society, which, asking money, expecting money, deriving money, by regular yearly subscriptions, from any one, but more especially from persons professedly belonging to our denomination, yet is entirely governed, as to its officers and the administration of its fuads, by the Congregational Union, 10 which the adhesion of individual Independents is not yet general. A member or delegate of the Union, as it is understood, may never have subscribed a farthing, specifically to the Colonial Mission, but be, to the exclusion of a mere member of the Mission department, would vote at the annual meetings of the Union on matters respecting the administration of that Mission, the appointments of its officers, and the application and distribution of its funds. This, at the meeting of the Union, was deliberately, and upon principle, contended for and insisted upon by that excellent and eminent man, Dr. Redford, and by others of equal repute. Why even the Church people have had the wisdom in these matters to preserve a free and liberal constitution, founded upon the common equity of reciprocity between contribution and government, for their splendid voluntary institutions. Albeit there may be some degree of ecclesiastical obedience due and enforced from the clerical missionary, yet would the numerous respectable members of the Church Missionary Society, upon an allegation that there was no sufficient security for the establishment of the pure Episcopal Reformed Church in the world, in a system governed by the subscribers to a voluntary society, throw the administration and power of that great and noble institution into the hands of an elected or delegated conclave of bishops, archdeacons, and others, or of any other supposable representation of undoubted and correct Churchism? No, no, they feel and rejoice in the liberty of their voluntary institutions; they will have good sense enough, it is to be hoped, to cherish and preserve it! Esteeming highly “ for their work's sake," as especially also for their own justly high character, as men and as Christians, the officers of the Colonial Mission, it is trusted not a word has been penned which can be justly considered to be inconsistent with the respect, deference, and affection which are due to them; but men of their noble principles and habitual liberality of feeling will be the last to censure honest and conscientious remarks on the alarming precedent which they have set, and, by their great influence, carried into effect. Suill more dangerousness would be seen in the example, if it were generally known that such were the views of the officers of that institution, or rather of that department of the denominational Union, that they could actually ask for the grant to them of 1000l. out of the funds of the London Missionary Society! That illustrious institution is not only formed upon the most catholic basis as to its object; but it possesses also an administrative constitution, founded on the simplest and soundest, because the most popular and equitable, principles. The sum no doubt, abstractedly from its being a part of the appointed funds of another institution
would have been as well and as usefully administered by the excellent members of the Colonial Mission, as it would be possible to administer, in any way whatever, a similar amount. But look at the principle. Not only is a society, with a separate name and designation, to be governed by the Union; but a most punctiliously denominational society asks, for its missionary purposes, the grant and distribution of a large sum out of the fuods of anoiher and less sectarian institution. Where is this to stop? Why should not, upon a similar principle, the Episcopalian subscribers of the Missionary Society endeavour to obtain a grant in aid of some one of the Church Missionary stations? It may be said that this is only one of the proceedings of the Union. But is not this early tendency (however pure and praisewortby the motives and the object to the grasping of administrative power, a justification, to a great extent, of hesitancy and objection respecting the Union ? *
There is one great liberty which the Union has taken with our denomination, which ought never to be forgiven. Because the term “ Congregational" is, in one application of it, properly designatory of our principles as opposed to the Episcopalian arguments for the provincial superintendence by one man of many churches, the Union have in their choice of an exclusive epithet for their own designation, as in the general tendency of their authorized documents, seemed to attempt all in their power to extinguish our well-known and gloriously historical name, the “ Independents," although this description, or rather that of “ Protestant Dissenters of the Independent Denomination,” is the legally recognized description in most of our recent chapel deeds. Whether the prominence of so characteristic and warning a name would always be consistent with the proceedings of a society expecting, if fully carried into effect, lo acquire so much concentraled power, may be a question.t
Yours, with much esteem,
# As Mr. Wells has referred to this snbject, little further is necessary, in the way of explanation, Let it, however, be remembered, that the founders of the Colonial Mission were most reluctant 10 establish a new Society; and therefore, to meet the most urgeot and touching appeals that were sent to them, both from the Canadas and Austraia, tbry first appealed to the Directors of the London Missionary Society, to undertake to supply the wants of the Colonists. This appeal was made on the ground of many precedents. Not only Port Jackson and Newfonndland, but the Canadas also had obtained assistance for many years from that Institution. In 1811, its Directors received a petition, signed by more than a hundred settlers, localed in the district of Johnstown, Upper Canada, expresssnig a very earnest desire to possess the means of grace, and a dread lest they should wholly lose that sense of religion, which they took with them from this coupuy. “ The Directors," to use the words of the report,“ could not hesitate a moment; for althongh the applicants were not heathen, they hoped they might claim regard as being part of an unenlightened nation ;'" and a minister was sent to them accordingly. On these grounds the Directors voted for the current year, a sum not exceeding £1000 ; but, when little more than half of that som had been applied, it was ascertained that it was not likely that the Directors would agree to renew the vote a second year, and it therefore became necessary to establish a distinct Society. Now had the object been general, as the circulation of Bibles, Tracts, and the establishment of schools, there could have been no objection to form the Society on Catholie principles; but as its object is to send forth ministers, and to gather churches, it was felt, on all hands, to be most consistent with Christian integrity, to make it denominational in its constitution, as it will be go in its practice. Some of the members of the Committee of the Colonial Mission then applied to the Directors to give that body the balance of the £1000 already appropriated to the Colonies. They declined to comply with that request, but, by a Committee of their own, devoted the retaaining sum to that service. Now this application is censured, by the lay gentleman, with a severity which it does not deserve. The Directors of the London Missionary Society have votedt, at various times, considerable sums, to be administered by strictly denomina. tional societies. To the Moravian brethren, who are Episcopalians, in 1814, £200; and, in 1816, €300. To the New York Missionary Society, who are Presbyterians, £100; to the Basle Missionary Institution, Lutherans, £200; to the Serampore Mission, Baptists, £105. So that the principle has been again and again acknowledged, and Moravians and Baptists have obtained assistance for their is most punctiliously denominational" societies; but when some of the Congregational denomination, which contributes, probably, nipe-tenths of the annual income of the London Missionary Society, come and solicit ajd from the same parties for a pure and praise worthy object, which they have assisted again and again, they are asked “ Is not this a symptom of grasping at administrative power, which, to a great extent, will justify our hesitancy and oppo. sition to the Ouion ?" After this simple explanation, let the reader judge.
+ " We must confees," says the Editor of The Patriot," that we are among the number of those who prefer the term Congregational to the ill-understood appellation, Independent; and we are willing to take our due share of whatever blame may attach to the preference, for which, however, we bave tbe sanction of the founders of Independent polity. "Truly, brother,' said Burton, in
Rev. A. Wells' First Reply. SIR, -You have with great propriety inserted in your last number, an able and temperate letter, signed " A Layman," impugning the Congregational Union of England and Wales, and the Colonial Missionary Society in connexion with that Union. There are in that communication some inaccurate statements of facts, doubtless uninteutional; and it is chiefly wiib a view of correcting those erroneous representations that I now address you.
To the gentlemen who conduct with so much ability our periodical press, I may safely leave the management of their own defence. They need no assistance from me. But even with regard to the press, the facts of the “ Layman" are not given with strict accuracy. It is true that the Congregational Magazine is the recognized organ of the Union, which character it has publicly sustained for nearly seven years, without challenge or complaint; but neither the Patriot, nor the Eclectic, is even a denominational publication, much less is either of those excellent journals obedient to the Union, or in the least degree controlled by its committee. Whatever support either of them give to the Union is entirely spontaneous,-the result of conviction, and of an upright desire to promote the great cause of charity and truth. Were the Union to pursile a course of which the able, independent editors and conductors of the Patriot and the Eclectic disapproved, it would soon appear that they are far indeed from being its pledged and undiscriminating advocates. But of this there can be no doubt, that the pages of any or all the three publications in question, are open to those who disapprove of the Congregational Union, whenever they shall deem it wise and proper to open a discussion on the subject. The Congregational Magazine, from which no jpaper on the subject has ever yet been rejected, equally with the Patriot and the Eclectic, is the accessible appropriale medium for the controversy, if confined within due limits, and conducted with Christian temper. And certainly the friends of the Union are not the parties who would dread or stifle discussion. They are so deeply impressed with the truth of the principles on which the Union is founded, and so fully satisfied of the great benefits it will conser on the Congregational body, that they look to free and brotherly discussion as one of the chief means by which its stability and progress will be promoted. The gist of the “ Layman's” complaint against our periodicals is, that the Congregational body being divided in opinion on the subject of the Union, the editors ought to have observed strict neutrality, whereas they have warmly espoused and ad vocaled the Union. I must submit that the question of the Union has never yet assumed such an aspect as to require neutrality on the part of the conductors of our periodical literature. It is now in a position tú require such neutrality. The whole body of the London ministers, with exceedingly few exceptions, lave sanctioned and sustained it; the great majority of names of country brethren, known as the most active and influential of our body in their respective localities, stand recorded as present at its annual assemblies, and bearing part in its important transactions; it has received cordial recognition from the associated brotherhoods of the Congregational churches of America, Scotland, and Ireland ; it has maintained a public standing for seven years before the church and the world, as a recognized organization of our churches, without, as far as I know, a single protest from any quarter, or even a single paper, calling in question its principles or proceedings, being ever sent for insertion to the known organ of the Union, and the professed organ of the body at large, and therefore I must think it neither inappropriate nor unfair, that our denominational Magazine should be its acknowledged organ, although many most respectable and beloved brethren still continue to doubt and hesitate concerning the safety or the necessity of the Union. All that the case requires is, that the pages or columns of our periodicals should be fairly open to temperate discussion. This they have been from the commencement of the Union, and so they will continue to be. As for a rival periodical press, it will never be needed; nor will it ever come to the decision of any vote or majority whether there shall or shall not be a union of our churches. Those will unite that deem union safe and desirable; those of a contrary opinion will decline the counexion. The Unionists and Anti Unionists (it is much too strong a word) will dwell in peace, each seeking to promote a common cause according to their several convictions as to the best mode of serving it. If the anticipations of the friends of the Union are realized, misapprehensions will be gradually removed; coufidence will grow and spread; and, by an inperceptible progress, the Union will obtain permanent establishment, and embrace within its peaceful brotherhood all the Congregational churches of England and Wales. If, on the contrary, the objections of those who disapprove of the Union are well founded, and experience proves that it is unnecessary, inconsistent with our principles, and aiming at domination, it will linger to a gradual decay, to a sure extinction. But there is nothing to threaten violence or convulsion, as the occasion or the result either of its success or failure. Happily, among us, both opinion and action are so free and unconstrained, that our denomination is secure, as far as human associations can be protected, against whatever might infuse bitterness into controversies, or prolong the existence of any interests and institutions which the voice of the people and of truth may unite to condemn.
replying to the abuse of William Prynne, none of all those whom you thus entitle, do at all glory in this name ... Notwithstanding, we are not so ashamed of it as utterly to disclaim it.' But he adds, 'You mightily mistake the inatter, when you interpret Independency as mot needing both the communion and assistance of other persons, nations, churches.' (Burton's « Vindication of the Churches called Independent," p. ll.). Whereas, indeed,' says Cotion of New England, we do profess dependence upon magistrales for civil governineut and protection; dependence apon Christ and his word for the sovereign government and mle of our adıninistration; dependence upon the counsel of other churches and synods, when our own Variance or ignorance may stand in need of such help.' (Cotton's "Way of the Congregational Chuches cleared," p. 11.) Again, in the Apologetical Narrative of the Independents, presented to the House of Cominons in 1643, we find a similar disclaimer of absolute and altra Independency. • Not that they claim an entire independency of other churches ; for they agree, that, in all cases of off nce, the offending church is to subinit to an open examination by other neighbouring churches; and, on their persisting in their error or miscarriage, they are then to renounce all communion with them till they repent, which is all the authority or ecclesiastical power that one church may exercise over another, until they call in the civil magistrate, for which they find do anthority in Scripture.' (Neal, Vol. III. p. 118.) These extracts will suffice to show, first, that the term Congregational is as historical as Independent; secondly, that the latter term was never gloriell , bot was consilered equivocal, and used by way of reproach ; thirdly, that Congregational unions are as old as Independency itself.” Mr. Wells has also referred to ibis point in his first letter, on whicb we shall have a few inore facts to supply.
It is quite incorrect to state that the Colonial Missionary Society, a strictly denominational body, applied to the London Missionary Society for one thousand pounds in furtherance of its peculiar objects. The truth is, that the sum in question was devoted, by the Directors of the London Missionary Society, to assist ministers proceeding to the colonies; and nearly seven hundred pounds had been disbursed before the Colonial Society was formed. After the formation of the new Society for the colonies, the Directors of the London Missionary Society did themselves distribute the residue among ministers labouring in the colonies, but they never handed over to the colonial committee, or entrusted to them for appropriation, one single shilling.
Candour requires of me the acknowledgment, that on the occasion alluded to by the “ Layman," when many felt that if the Colonial Mission were established as an entirely separate Society, in no acknowledged connection with the Congregational Union, the Uoion would be deprived of the fruit of its own enterprise, I did contend for a closer bond between the two institutions than I now think practicable, or consistent with the full and just rights of the subscribers to the colonial object." In the suddenness and urgency of the moment, being quite unprepared for the discussion by any previous sufficient thought, I did not perceive iliis consequence of the course I advocated ; but as for arrogating dominion, the thought never once crossed my mind, and I dare express my full belief that it was equally remote from the mind of my honoured friend whose name is expressly mentioned by the “ Layman," in reference to this transaction, as well as from the minds of all those who concurred in