The New Zealand Evangelist
France—Progress of the Gospel.
The following extract is from a speech of M. Audebez, of Paris, in May last, at Edinburgh.—After stating how much the Evangelical Society had been crippled for want of funds, he said:
However we have been, as it were, constrained to add to our former stations two new and very important ones. And I think it will interest you to know this. Each of the stations comprehended five villages, and the population of both stations together amounts to no less than 10,000 souls. Taingy is the chief place of one of the stations into which the gospel has been introduced, including four other neighbouring villages. The Mayor of the place is a rich man, and as he desired to be married to a cousin of his own, he went to the priest and asked him to celebrate his marriage according to the Romish ritual. The priest told the Mayor that he could not be married to his cousin without previously paying one thousand francs, which is £40 pounds of your money, for a dispensations page 183 to be obtained from the Pope, because of the relationship which existed between himself and his fair bride. The Mayor was astonished at this demand, and said that he could not understand the meaning of such a demand being made. “Let me,” he said, “put before you this question. Is it lawful or not for a man to marry his cousin? If it be lawful, why demand my money; and if it be not lawful, how can money make it lawful?” The priest insisting upon the 1000 francs, the Mayor retired, and actually applied to our evangelical missionary to marry him. Our missionary agreed to do so, and the fact having become known, upon the day of the ceremony it was attended by an immense majority of the people of the district; and an impression was produced which proved so powerful and decided, that general protestations were made against Popery, and from that day the inhabitants of the whole district did not cease to petition the Committee of the Society to give them a minister and a school-master. Such was their earnestness to have the gospel preached amongst them, that they agreed to raise money to purchase a large building, which they are at present having appropriated so as to furnish a chapel, two school-rooms, a manse, and a lodging for each of the teachers. You can imagine that the priest would not see with very great pleasure the Protestants invading his territory. And what was to be done? Wherever he went, from time to time, he could not refrain from showing his bad humour. Not long ago, the priest, knowing that the Protestants had assembled to read the Bible, he determined to disturb them, and caused the church-bell to be rung in a very strange manner. Two young men were appointed to do this; and instead of using the rope to shake the bell, they provided themselves with two large smith's hammers, with which they struck the bell, at each stroke crying out,” Here goes a Protestant.” At last, however, they went so far that the bell got a stroke in consequence of which it emitted a rather curious sound—it was cracked. The two bell-ringers, as you may suppose, immediately became very confused; but they were much more so, when the Mayor, who had guessed the cause of the ringing, and heard the discordant sounds, went up the spire, and addressing the two lads, said, “Well my dear fellows, you have been amusing yourselves, and making a great noise, but all is not pleasure here below; you know well that those who break the glass must pay for it, so make ready to supply the bell which you have cracked.” I cane assure you there was great consternation. St. Saviour is the othor new station. It is a very fine small town. The gospel was introduced here in this way. A young girl, about twelve years of age, purchased a New Testament, which she delighted in reading. She took her dear book, as she called it, every Sunday to the ohapel, and instead of paying any attention to the sermons of the mass, she preferred to read some parable, or some of the circumstances attending the birth, and sufferings, and death, and resurrection of Christ. I must tell you that it is customary in the country in the parishes of Burgundy, after mass, to form into procession and walk round the chapel. The priest, the vicar, and other office-page 184bearers walk first, carrying crosses, and banners, and signs, and are followed by the people. However attractive such a scene might be for a young girl of twelve years of age, the young reader of the Bible absolutely paid no attention to it; she thought it was better to continue seated reading the Word of God. But the priest at the return of the procession towards the altar, did not fail to perceive her, and the book which she had in her hand. At that view he was startled. He understood what book it was, and he was fearful of the mischief which such a volume would produce if generally possessed by the people, and thus read in the chapels.—Accordingly, he gave an order to the beadle to go and take the book from the hands of the girl. The young girl continued as long as possible to retain the treasure; but at last she was overcome by the beadle; she was dispossessed of the book, and burst into tears. The people, as soon as they knew what sort of book it was, and could comprehend the secret motive of the priest, were indignant, and the following week was a good one for our colporteurs. Every body went to buy a New Testament. Next Sunday the chapel was crammed; and when the procession took place, the people remained seated, each with a New Testament in his hand, and curiously watching the countenance of the priest. From this the priest understood that the mummeries of Rome were to be at an end. The people agreed in great numbers to raise money among themselves. They hired a house for a place of worship; and, about five weeks after, the gospel was faithfully preached at St. Saviour. The example of the inhabitants of this village was followed by those of four adjoining villages; and thirty more might be in the same position, did the peeuniary resources of the Society permit of the sending them ministers and colporteurs.—The facilities which we now have for preaching the gospel in France is very great, compared with that under the former Government. That Government was completely against the liberty of religious worship; and it was to have been feared that ere long we would have been persecuted more and more. In January last, I was in the southern part of the country, and attended the pleadings in two religious causes. It was held by the Court that we had a good plea; but in spite of that good plea, the Procureur sustained the pledaings against us. And would you know what a commentary he gave on the Constitution of the Charter, which says that every one professing religion in France, shall have the same liberty and enjoy the same protection. He said, “that means a man who professes in his heart.” We were not permitted to cry out against this assertion, but the people were very indignant, and they made a great noise with their feet. The Judge cried silence; but the people would not be silent. Now, my friends, all restriction on that precious liberty is over. Now a large and wide door is open in France for all those who are desirous to take their life in their hand and go forth to proclaim that the Son of God, Jesus Christ, is the only Mediator, the only Saviour. It is no more necessary to make declarations, and to be exposed to the frowns of a mayor or a judge; for every one may go throughout France, and page 185 errect a church, and preach the gospel without difficulty. What ever may be the result of the labours of the Committee appointed in Paris to draw up a constitution, and whatever may be its character, I have no doubt that we shall have liberty for ever. The time is come. All these overturnings, so wonderful, are not from man, but from God. There will be a completion of the work, and we are but at its commencement. But if it be a time of great overturnings, it is also a time for great reedification. Not only are the people in France quite disposed to hear the gospel, but they are exceedingly disposed to read it. In the month of March, at the very time when the excitement was greatest, 10,000 copies of the New Testament were circulated in France—not given away, but actually sold. And this was at a time when money was any thing but plentiful. Blessed be God, it is a proof of a secret and deep disposition in the people of France to receive something new.—The Word of God is a new thing to them. Many of them are violent; but in the midst of all the violence which has been exhibited, there is in the bottom of their minds a disposition for which I have been led many and many times to bless my God. There is a secret want of something; they know not what, but I know, and you know too. They want something—they have a feeling that it is necessary for them to find out something—something better than revolutions—they want something, and oh! no doubt it is the gospel.
Italy.—A Converted Priest.
Extract of a letter from the Rev. Mr. Stewart, Missionary from the Free Church of Scotland in Leghorn, dated May last.
Here we have had an opportunity lately of testing our Tuscan constitution. Dr. Desanctis, a converted priest of Rome, now residing with Dr. Achilli at Malta, came here on a mission about the beginning of April, ready and willing to preach the Gospel wherever an opportunity might offer. I knew him well by character, and resolved that the opportunity should not be wanting. I asked him to preach to my own congregation in Italian (he can't speak English) on the Sabbath evening of our Sacrament; and he did so to our great delight. He is a most eloquent, able, and faithful minister; and we had the joy of feeling that the Lord had made use of a mission station of the Free Church of Scotland, that in its church the Gospel might be proclaimed by an Italian priest, in his own language, to many of his own countrymen, for the first time for upwards of two centuries since the light of the Reformation was extinguished by fire and sword. This is surely an answer to our page 186 prayers, and I trust it will excite in the Church at home a deeper interest both in this station, and in this country panting for regeneration.
A deputation of the young men of the congregation were deighted; they begged him to preach again, which he did on a week evening, as faithfully, but a little less guardedly, than before. On the first occasion about twenty, on the second about 80, Italians were present. Some were much pleused, others were very angry as his subject condemned their innumerable mediators, with the Madonna at their head. The priests got greatly excited about it, and actually proposed publishing a handbill, exhorting the people to drive him out of the city. They summoned our beadle (an Italian) before them, to give a full account of all that had gone on; but we have not been troubled about it. Indeed, I took special care to ask him to preach to my own congregation, that I might be able to declare this to the authorities, if called in question; and I am not bound to turn Italians out of our church, if they choose to come there. Another Sabbath he spent in Lucca, and preached twice there to about twenty people; after which he went to Florence, and preached in the Swiss church, and administered the sacrament. He left this on his way to Malta last week; and his visit, while it has done good in the way of confirming inquirers, and stirring up others to think, has been of especial benefit as showing that personal liberty at least is secured under the new constitution.
England.—Prize Essays on the Sabbath by Working Men.
Some time ago an announcement was made in the leading papers offering three prizes of £25, £15, and £10, for the best three essays on the “Temporal Advantages of the Sabbath to the Labouring Classes, and the consequent importance of preserving its rest from all the encroachments of unnecessary labour.” The following are a few extracts of a letter from the adjudicators to the competitors, in May last.
Dear Friends,—At the time of issuing the advertisement, we expected to be able to announce our decision within two months from the 30th of March, the last day of receiving Essays. But this has been rendered impossible from the immense number of competing Essays—upwards of Nine Hundred and Fifty having been received. Now, supposing we were able to examine thirty Essays per week, we have upwards of thirty weeks’ labour in reading alone; so that it will be the end of October or the beginning of November before we can publish our decision.
But if we were to remain silent until then, we should do violence to our own feelings, commit an act of injustice towards you, and page 187 deprive the Sabbath cause of the powerful influence which we believe your invaluable testimony is calculated to exert.
Our task is a delightful one. We have read upwards of two hundred of your essays; and judging from these, the entire mass—the thousand—is one of the most remarkable collections of manuscripts ever accumulated. In the meanest, there is often great originality and force; in all, there is a wonderful unanimity of sentiment on several important leading points; and argumentative power, logical acuteness, sparkling brilliancy, touching pathos, and artless simplicity, are profusely scattered through the whole. Indeed, while our pleasure is enhanced, our labour is increased by the general excellence of your essays.
Dear Friends; remain faithful to your principles, and your Sabbath-right is safe!
But we must bid you farewell, until the three prizes are awarded. Would that it were possible to award prizes to you all! Would that we could retain and print all your essays! It has been suggested by the editor of the Universe, that after the three prizes are awarded, further selections should be made; that a “Working Man's Series of Essays upon the Sabbath “should be published, and that ultimately the entire manuscript should be bound and presented to the British Museum as a monument to the moral and intellectual character of our industrial population.
London Missionary Society.—
The Fifty-fourth Anniversary of this most honorable and useful Institution was held in Exeter Hall, on Thursday, May 11, Mr. Alderman Kershaw, M.P. in the Chair. The Society was extending its powerful influences in every direction. The calls for assistance were multiplying, but the means were wanting. For the seven years previous, the Expenditure had exceeded the Receipts by £9,000 per annum, so that they had now an excess of expenditure of more than £63,000, which had been met by the sale of Funded Property, by the Jubilee Fund, and Special efforts. The income for the year was £77,614 16s. 5d. The Expenditure was £79,265 5s. 1d. Sir Culling E. Eardley, and Dr. Candlish were amongst the speakers at the Meeting.
The Church Missionary's forty-eighth Anniversary Meeting, on Tuesday, May 2, was honoured by the Presidency of His Grace the Archbishop of Canterbury, who since his elevation to the highest clerical dignity in the realm, appears to be as “ready for every good word and work” as ever. The Institution, like all its contemporaries, had to complain of excess of expenditure over Income. The Income was £91,980 13s, 7d. The Expenditure £98,408 1s. 4d. In all other respects the Society was in a very satisfactory state. Success had attended and was attending the labours of their agents. The prospect for the future was considered very hopeful and encouraging.
Wesleyan Methodist Annual Conference, Held In Hull, July And August, 1848.
Previous to opening the legal Conference, which was fixed for Wednesday, July 26, the preliminary Committees, appointed to prepare the main business which comes before the Conference, held their sittings and made their reports. These Committees are composed of ministers and laymen, and in them, not in the Conference, the chief secular business of the Wesleyan Church is transacted. From the Chapel Building Committee, the Rev F. J. Jobson presented a long and highly satisfactory report. It appeared that the efforts made to reduce the debts on Wesleyan Trust property had been very successful. Applications had been made to the Committee to erect 97 Chapels and School Houses. These, if built according to the conditions of agreement with the Committee, will cost £31,391; the debts remaining upon them will be £9,039; and the anticipated yearly income £1,675. Twenty-seven are to be entirely free from debt. 88 Chapels had been built during the year. The Kingswood and Woodhouse Grove Schools are designed for the education of Ministers’ sons. Their term of residence is six years, namely, from the age of eight to fourteen. The Rev. C. Prest, one of the Treasurers, reported that the total iucome of the Schools had amounted to £9,671, 2s, 10, being a little less than the previous year's income, and £542, 9s. 11 less than the expenditure. This, however, was a much smaller deficiency than the great depression of trade, &c., had led them to anticipate.
The Book Committee received the report from Wm. Mason, the Book Steward, on July 19th, when it appeared that the sales had exceeded those of last year, though they were not equal to the amount of sales two years ago, when the manufacturing and commercial interests of the country were in a better state. Still the general sentiment of the Committee was thankfulness that their Book affairs were no worse, and hopefulness that they would improve as trade and commerce revived. In counection with the Book Room is a Committee for the Publication of Religious Tracts. Under their supervision a considerable number of new tracts and hand-bills have been published during the past year, and the total issue of tracts &c. has amounted to nearly a million and a half—being a considerable increase on the previous year's issue.
The Contingent Fund Committee has for its object the various contingent expences counected with the working out the great itinerant system of the Connexion. It sustains the character of a Home Mission Fund, in part; for to its existence and support, it is owing that many circuits have been formed and maintained, in spiritually destitute districts, which are now independent of its aid, and flourishing. The fund is sustained from three sources; 1, A grant from the Book Room profits; 2. The yearly collection from the Classes in March; 3. The July collection in the congregations. Its total income during the year amounted to £6,722 3s. 3d., being only £71 19s. 11d. less than before.page 189
From the Missionary Committee of Review, which is one of the most numerous and influential of the Connexion, it was learnt that 22 vacancies in the Mission field needed supplying—29 additional Missionaries were required in stations already occupied—and 16 were asked for new station—in all, 67.
The Income of the Theological Institution had been scarcely equal to its expenditure, as there had been a greater number of students than previously, while the receipts were only as on previous years.
The Education Committee met and examined the state of the Sunday and Day Schools. The increase of Sunday Schools was 65—of Scholars 17,825. Total number of Scholars 442,896. Average number in attendance 343,951. Total cost of the Schools £26,420.
Day Schools—Total number 408—of Scholars 37,659. The annual coat was £24,821 12s. 10d.
The One Hundred and Fifth Annual Conference Assembled on Wednesday, July 22, in Great Thornton Street Chapel; about four hundred Ministers in attendance. Rev. Robert Newton, D. D., was elected President for the fourth time. The former years of his Presidency being 1824, 1832, 1840. The Rev. Joseph Fowler, was chosen Secretary.
It was found that 23 Ministers had died during the year; and 24 were obliged to retire on the Supernumerary list, Dr. Bunting wished to retire bat was not permitted. There was a net decrease in the numbers of the Society of 2,768; but the names were taken down of 1,963 who had emigrated from Ireland alone to the United States, with whose Societies and Churches, they would become incorporated. Erom Cornwall also, they had returns of upwards of 1,300 members who had been obliged to emigrate through the closing of mines. Rev. R. Young, Chairman of the Cornish District, reported that since the District Meeting in May, 12 mines had been abandoned, and in consequence some 300 Members had emigrated.
From all accounts a more interesting and profitable Conference never was held. The kindness of the friends in Hull was spoken of in the warmest terms; and the various religious services were accompanied by manifest tokens of spiritual feeling.
The President's sermon was founded on Matt, 16, v. 26. “What is a man profited, &c.” and was a very solemn, impressive, and earnest exhortation and warning.