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periodicals has ever been, or is, “ denominational in an objectionably sectarian sense, so as to exclude the idea of their having been, and still being, well deserving of the general support of the whole religious literary world, was never meant to be intimated, as it would have been quite contrary to my own pleasurable conviction. It is also cheerfully acknowledged, that whatever support is given to the Union by their conductors, is the result of their own honest, spontaneous, and independent judgment; but there may still have been, by a warm and unvarying general advocacy of the Union, some presumption of their having “ yielded a sort of obedient adhesion" to it, although it was done on principles perfectly upright and honourable. But, after all, I tremblingly feel that, notwithstanding the generous offer of the columns of the Congregational Magazine and the Patriot, the position of “ two upon one at the same time" is somewhat awkward and disadvantageous for the miserable wight who is to fight singly. Such, at least, was the understanding in the days of the olden chivalry. The prevalence of a similar notion in the present day may possibly have prevented some earlier communications on this subject. I am satisfied, however, to leave this part of the subject to the impartial judgment and generous feelings of your intelligent readers.
The tone of a part of the reply obliges me to recall to the recollection of your readers the circumstances under which my former letter was written. A special and imploring address is issued from the Union, in which, although on the whole it prophesies hopefully for the future, it is stated, that“ a considerable number of the pastors and churches of our denomination still hesitate to join the Union;" thai " they (the committee) have found themselves compelled, from want of a more vigorous and general co-operation, for the present to suspend the prosecution of a design of the utmost importance to the whole denomination, namely, by one effectual effort to discharge all our chapel debis ;" (on the prudence, tendency, and non-interfering character of which plan, considered as one to be undertaken by an ecclesiastical organisation, more another time;) and that even the churches" (associations?) " which have joined the Union supply funds in so sparing a manner that pecuniary difficulties have not been the least of those with which the committee have had to contend.” Contrast these and similar parts of that candid address with the somewhat lofty ecclesiastical pretensions now asserted on behalf of the Union of its being a recognised organisation of our churches before the church and the world! It is not the position in which our great and independent denomination of Independents has been usually placed before the world, that in proportion to its alleged greater extent of combination, and to the grandeur of its plans and its aims, should be the failure of efficient popular and pecuniary support. Close pockets have not been the usual proof of recognising adhesion furnished by the Independents.
The present state and condition of the Union as to numbers and influence, considered as constituting, not only before the church, but the world, a sufficiently “ recognised organisation of our churches," may, and must be, a point of dispute in the course of this correspondence. This may hereafter be shown to be somewhat too ambitiously assumed. It may, in the opinion of some very much depend upon what has been the system of ascertaining the opinions of the ecclesiastical constituency, the members of the churches; and how far correctly some of the associations who bave joined may have acted consistently with their several original constitutions. Suppose a country association to have proclaimed, at its formation, for its object, the extension of the Gospel within the limits of a particular district. Suppose that at one of its meetings the members of that association then present, convened for purposes in accordance with the limited objects of its first formation, should vote the association into ecclesiastical connexion with the extended and national Union. Now if this has been done in any case where the association has professed to be a delegation from the churches, as such, and the question of the extension of the object and power of the association has not been previously submitted to the opinion and
decision of the members of each church in the association, has there not been, in the very outset, a most dangerous denial or neglect of Christian right and liberty towards the members? The ultimate constituents of the association should, in such a case, have been convened, by special notice, first to alter and extend the constitution of the association, by conferring the power, by a vote of that body, to connect the churches as such, with the national ecclesiastical body. Many associations, although influentially they may be considered as a practical representation of the churches, still have not professed to be constituted and governed by a regular ecclesiastical delegation. Some are separate associations of ministers, uniting with them, by the mere convenient arrangement of cotemporaneous meetings, distinct societies for the spread of the Gospel in the district, and which do not introduce church tests of membership; the ministers, in such cases, very properly guarding the sacred rights of the ministry from lay interference in matters regarding their office and character. Still less justifiable would it be in the case of such latter associations, that a mere vote of the members at one of its meetings should be considered as transferring any legitimate ecclesiastical representation to the Union. Some of the churches may have tacitly assented; but, if so, they have conceded rights which, if the members of those churches professed to be Independents, it would have been as well to retain and preserve. If such things have occurred, as have been supposed, then the Union need not reiterate assurances of their intention to preserve the independence of the churches, for there has been interference enough with it already. The Union itself will then have been built upon what, for the sake of moderation, I refrain from calling ecclesiastical usurpation.
Let it be recollected, that the propriety of a general and permanent organisation, or (to use, sir, your own expressive words) “ecclesiastical association" of the Independent or Congregational churches, is not now, por has been, corceded; but if it can be proved to be desirable and quite consistent with true and practical independency, then let the system of representation and delegation be equal, free, and independent. This part of the subject, however, as it is so important, must be adjourned for more convenient opportunity for amplification and illustration.
The circumstance which will form the key to explain the scope and object of my former letter, is the allusion which is made in the address to a supposed objection, on the part of some, to any plans for the spread of the Gospel in our own or other countries in connexion with our distinctive views of divine truth and church order. Supposing, (as has not been denied, that this had, in part at least, reference to the Colonial Mission,-having first expressly waived, so far as that letter was concerned, the more general arguments against the plan of the Union, -I selected the proceedings of the Union with reference to that Society, as one of the tests of the views of its esteemed founders.
On the subject of my misapprehensions, I have first to acknowledge that my information, highly respectable as it was, did lead me into an error with regard to the amount being applied for to be paid over for the objects of the Colonial Missionary Society. That amount being part of the larger sum of £1000, previously granted by the London Missionary Society for colonial objects will, in some measure, account for a mistake on this point, as being one not unlikely to arise. Still, for this error, I sincerely apologise to the esteemed officers of the Colonial Society; and in so far as ihe question of amount is calculated to affect the points raised in the letter, and the arguments used in support of them, I must request your forgiving readers to dismiss that part of my letter from their consideration. But, possessing still satisfactory evidence that £500, the residue of the £1000, was, at a meeting of the board of directors of the London Missionary Society, regularly applied for by one of the secretaries of the Colonial Missionary Society, to be devoted to colonial missionary objects in connexion with the latter Society, I must still most respectfully contend that I am not yet contradicted on the really material part
of the statement. It will be seen that in my letter there is no intimation that the request made was granted; the statement had reference only to an application. Mr. Wells is, of course, correct in stating that no application even was made for the larger amount; but it is apprehended that he will find, upon inquiry, that there was a request for the £500, as above stated, by a regular motion submitted by one of the Secretaries of the Colonial Missionary Society. It will be for your readers to judge whether, if this be correct, the difference of amount in the slightest degree qualifies the applicability of the arguments raised on the views (always honouring the motives) entertained by the gentlemen who made such an application.*
As to the degree of control exercised by the Union over the Colonial Mis. sionary Society, it seems, also, that I was not quite accurate so far as concerns the present practice. In the statement I made I was certainly principally thinking of ihe mode in which the society was constructed at its formation, At the meeting held on the 13th of May, 1836, for the formation of the Society, that excellent man and distinguished ornament of our denomination, the Rev. Thomas Binney, made a preliminary statement, in which, after adverting most satisfactorily to the claims which the colonies had on the support and sympathy of Christians at home, he stated that the subject had excited public interest in the Congregational Union, “ A few weeks ago," he says, (as reported in the Patriot of the 18th May, 1836,)“ two or three of his brethren held some preliminary meetings, and formed a provisional committee; and published bills calling a meeting, to be held that day, to form a Colonial Missionary Society.” In the meantime the Congregational Union met; the gentlemen to whom he alluded were present, and the Union feeling it to be an object of peculiar interest, there was an universally expressed desire that the subject should be taken up by them. The two parties determined upon uniting together, and in consequence of that junction, instead of a meeting for the foundation of a society, the Society might be said to exist almost in a state of maturity.t The Congregational Union bad met that morning and passed the following resolution :-" That to manage the affairs of the contemplated mission to the British colonies, the following brethren be the officers for the year ensuing." (Here follow the names, of whom it is not necessary to say that a more distinguished and trustworthy set of officers and committee could not possibly be
• For a full explanation of this business, the reader is referred to the note at page 831. + It is dae to the Congregational Union to explain why its members, who were present at the annual assembly, May, 1836, so unanimously desired to have a mission to the Colonies connected with that body. First, because the spiritual destitation of the Colonies had been brought before the public principally through the deputation and correspondence of the Congregational Union. As to the Canadas, it will be recollected, that they were visited by our delegated brethren, Drs. Reed and Matheson, who wrote to the Committee from Montreal, 14th June, 1834, thus ;“ As a visit to the British Colonies was not contemplated when we undertook this mission, it may be desirable to state briefly our reasons for adding to the number of our engagements, and the weight of our responsibility. While at New York, during the anniversary week, Mr. Miles, of this city, and formerly of Cape Town, came over to visit us. Another minister came from Kingston, Upper Canada, and one or two respectable lay men. The object of their visit was the same; to impress on our minds the importance of visiting the Canadas.” Congregational Magazine, 1834, p. 554. On the return of the deputation, they met on the 28th of October, about 150 members of the Union, at the Congregational Library, and urged the religious wants of British America upon the prayerful attention of the members of that body, which appeal is renewed in "A Nar. rative of the Visit to the American Churches, by a Deputation from the Congregational Union of England and Wales, vol. ii. pp. 306-370. Then as to Australia, the necessities of Van Dieman's Land, and of New South Wales, have been affectingly pourtrayed in letters addressed to the Secretaries of the Congregational Union, by the Rev. F. Millar, of Hobart Town, and the Rev. William Jarrett, of Sydney. These letters were published; the former in the Congregational Magazine, 1835, p. 190; the latter in the Appendix to the Report of the Union for 1836, pp. 23-26. Now it was felt strongly, and, we think, justly, that as the Union had received the imploring appeals of their Canadian and Australian brethren, 80, as a Union, they it should undertake to relieve their spiritual destitution. Secondly, there are many members of the Union that growingly feel the difficulties attendant upon missionary labours, based on what is called the Catholic principle. They feel them in the practical working of The London Missionary and The Irish Evangelical Societies, and they were, and still are resolved to be no parties to the setting up of another society that must derive nearly the whole of its income and its agency from the Congregational churches, and yet be fettered with a fundamental principle," that is to treat with avowed indifference the constitution of those churches, by which, under God, it can alone have its being.
selected for any society.) “ There were one or two resolutions with respect to the colonies which would be submitted to the approbation of the meeting." This resolution, appointing the officers and committee, was not submitted for the approbation of this " formation meeting. If it had been, no one can doubt that it would have passed, as it ought to have done, with acclamation. Most, if not all, however, of this administrative body, were, it is believed, well-known members and friends of the Union ; nor was it announced that any separate principle of membership in the Colonial Society, as for instance, a specific subscription to it, had been made, by the Union any condition or principle for appointment to office in that Society. Believing that the same plan of appointment by the annual meeting of the Union to the administrative offices of the Society, with the exception of the names being submitted for approval at the meeting of the subscribers to the mission (a decided improvement, certainly,) still existed, I felt that the controlling administration was, really and practically, in the Union. It is true, no doubt, that the committee and officers” of the Union may not interfere with the committee and officers of the Colonial Missionary Society, for the latter are delegated for a specific purpose by the same authority. Do not, however, the officers of the Colonial Missionary Society, as a matter of duty and obligation, report to, and submit for consideration its concerns to the annual meeting of the Union ? And do not the members of the latter, whether subscribers or not of the Society, appoint, subject to approbation, the officers of that Society? I was not before aware that the re-submitting of the names of the officers appointed by the Union to the approbation of the subscribers of the Society was really intended as a formal and deliberate abandonment by the union of their formally exercised power of appointing the whole administration of the Colonial Missionary Society; but as I can only construe the information now given by Mr. Wells to mean as much as that, I am happy to be authorised to withdraw the expression “ entirely," as mistakenly applied by me to the government and control of the Society by the Union.
If the Union had, as such, undertaken, out of its own general fund, to contribute a large specific amount to the Colonial Society, that would have rendered the subscribers to the Union pro tanto subscribers to the Society ; but the members of the former are not such by virtue of subscriptions even to their own body, but by ecclesiastical delegation, or er-officio ecclesiastical rights of admission. If the members of the Colonial Missionary Society became, by being such, also accepted members of the Union-or if the members of the latter who vote in the concerns of the former are members and subscribers of that Society, matters would be somewhat altered, so far as the equitable right of conferring administrative power goes, for the better. But this would not do; for membership by mere subscription to a voluntary society, however good its object, ought not, it is fully granted to be a sufficient ground of admission to membership in a professedly ecclesiustical association. For this very reason, however, ecclesiastical associations ought not to wish to have control over societies separately supported, and consisting of a different constituency, many of them, perhaps, conscientiously opposed to such an enormous ecclesiastical combinatation as is contemplated in the plan of the Union. The way for the Churches to preserve their own divinely conferred rights, liberties, and independence, is by not attempting, as Churches, to obtain either the power or the responsibility of administering the external and more secular affairs of the denomination to which they belong.
It is, of course, granted that there has been no breach of faith with the subscribers to the Colonial Society, nor any deception at all on the part of the Union. The point submitted was simply one of opinion, that such a junction of a specific Society with a denominational ecclesiastical Union, the subscribers and constituency of each not being reciprocal, was an example not sanctioned by general analogy, nor likely to be good in its tendency. It occurred to me, and perhaps may have done to some others, that the course adopted in the forma
tion of the Colonial Missionary Society seemed to involve this assumption, that on the admission of the propriety and expediency of the propagation of the Gospel on our own distinctive views of church order, an intimate connexion with, and control by, the Congregational Union over the Colonial Missionary Society, was the only sure way of securing such an object. This was, in the first place, in effect asserting, that the Union is, if not the only, the best standard, and the most faithful guardian of true Congregational principles; and, in the next place, introducing a principle in the construction of our religious institutions, which, as it was not sanctioned by the general example (except in the case of the Methodists, with whose avowedly anti-independent principle it is consistent) was likely to lead to a practical subversion of the liberty and independence of future societies for specific objects. Generous people-and it is, perhaps, on the whole, well that it is so-subscribe in general for the excellent object; they little concern themselves about the constitution of the Society. For this very reason, there is the more bounden honour due from the founders of voluntary institutions expecting public support, to make the constitution under which they are to be regulated a matter of grave concern.
My respected opponent seems also to have fallen into some misapprehensions, the minute consideration of which I feel I must forego. Suffice it to say, that in supposing, as he appears to have done, that the character or construction of voluntary benevolent societies was adverted to by way of a contrast, intended to be invidious as regards the personal trustworthiness and moral character of the more ecclesiastical constituency of the Union, he has mistaken my intention, as, I venture to think, also the effect of any fair construction which can be put on that letter. The question raised was not one of character; it was one of fitness and propriety, as applied to the distinct cases of a specific voluntary society and an avowedly ecclesiastical organization. As to his perfectly gratuitous laudation of the deacons, I am happy to concur in all that is said of them; but that the appointment by the Union, not only of the pastors, but of the deacons, of all churches acknowledged by an association, as members, ex-officio, of an ecclesiastical union, which, if it is proper at all, should be constituted of real delegates from the churches, periodically sent-cannot, in consistency with independency, be justified, I am prepared, at another time, to show. It is the most daring assumption that ever was attempted in connection with our denomination.
Although I am “ quite at fault" in my, as you, sir, call it," singular" charge of an attempt at the complete extinction of our denominational name of Independents, I shall be happy, another time, to show that there is a little to be said ihe other way. There was no objection even hinted against the use of the word “ Congregational" as one acknowledged and historical description of the nature of our principles of church government, and of the constitution of our churches. It was the “ exclusive" adoption of it of which I spoke as tending to blot out the memory of the glory we have obtained under the name of Independents, from the rise of our sect down to the present day. The Congregationalism of America, or even that of Scotland or Ireland, has existed and grown too near powerful Presbyterian influences and habits for the professors of our principles in those countries to be cited as decisive examples for us. England, old England, was the glorious land where Independency arose : it was there that it was persecuted : it was there that it was vindicated, glorified, and preserved, while the star of English Presbyterianism waned, palely, before it.* Yes, here, and under its proper name, it has been maintained for 200
• The “ Layman" is creatly in error, if he thinks that the Congregational brethren in Scotland or Ireland are atfected by Presbyterian affinities. It is true, that they are near great Presby. terian establishments, but we do not see the logic of the inference that they therefore symbolize with them. It might with equal justice be affirmed, that the Independents of England are “ too near powerful Episcopalian influences and habits," to be cited as decisive examples of a parity amongst the ministers of their churches! It is sufficiently notorious, that some of the fathers of Independency in Scotland have themselves seceded from Presbyterian communions. Yet these venerable men have been the steady advocates of the Congregational Union of Scotland, which has now existed with growing usefulness for twenty-five years. Dr. Wardlaw, whose attachment