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The New Zealand Evangelist

Religious Intelligence

Religious Intelligence.

Evangelical Alliance. British Organization—Intermediate Conference.

In our first number we gave an account of the origin and proceedings of this Association as far as the termination of the Liverpool Conference in 1845. We intended to continue the account in subsequent numbers, but were prevented by various circumstances : suffice it at present to say, that an aggregate meeting of about a thousand Delegates—Ministers, and Laymen from all parts of Great Britain, Ireland, America, and the Continent of Europe, was held in London in 1846. A basis of union was agreed upon, local organizations were formed, and various plans for promoting the objects of the Alliance were proposed, discussed, and agreed upon.

The principle of the Alliance is that contained in the maxim of an eminent ancient Father. “In necessary things unity, in doubtful things liberty, and in all things charity.” The objects contemplated by the Alliance are, a greater amount of mutual love,— a fuller display of manifested unity—and a greater amount of mutual co-operation in opposing evil and in advancing the Redeemer's kingdom upon earth. The evils which the Alliance have had principally before them are, Popery, Infidelity, and Sabbath profanation.

An Aggregate Meeting of the Alliance is not proposed more than once in seven years; but meetings of the various Local Organizations are held from time to time. An intermediate Conference of the British Organization was held in London, at Free-page 279mason's Hall, in October last. A number of leading ministers and laymen were present. Sir C. E. Eardly, Bart., presided over the business meetings of the Conference. The state of Europe, with respect to its bearings on the Gospel, and the prospective endowment of Popery in Ireland, were the subjects that most fully occupied their attention, and a strong resolution against this proposed government measure was passed unanimously at the last session of the Conference. A truly Catholic spirit pervaded all their meetings.

The Rev. Dr. Liefchild, who presided over the devotional services of the first day, said—

I am highly gratified to see so many ladies and christian ministers present this morning. Unhappily we have found the christian world not in so ripe a condition for union as we had anticipated. Still our opinion remains unchanged as to the propriety of this movement, and its accepta-bleness to God. For myself I can say that this association has made me acquainted with most estimable individuals in other denominations than my own, and has rendered them the objects of my esteem and affection; and as this increases and flows re-reciprocally from the large body of christians, it will reduce our differences very materially. They still remain, and probably will remain; but by thus associating together we view them with less jealousy, and look at them with more calmness, and can reason upon them with more evenness of mind, and we have felt that there are no impediments to real reciprocal affection, and sometimes our differences have-been lost sight of altogether, so that you never could tell from our devotional exercises to what sect or denomination we belong. And in proportion as this conviction increases, we shall find our lesser differences lessened in our own estimation. They will be like the stones in a summer brook which when the water is low impede its current; but when the water rises, and flows over them all in one grand stream, they vanish and dis-appear. The devotional services of the Alliance have been marked by an unusual degree of the influence of the spirit of God. Prayer unites hearts, and united prayer brings down blessings from above.

The Rev. E. Bickersteth, who presided over the devotional exercises of the second day, said—

The manifestation of union among all the churches of Christ, was a most glorious fact, and could not be questioned; it had been realized in the fact that members of fifty denominations, from all parts of the world, united in the Alliance. He had not met with a single individual who did not give his entire approbation to the object of the Alliance, and affirm his belief in its excellence. Much good had already been accomplished. There had been a very great increase of brotherly love, an enlarged sympathy towards ehristians all over the earth, which page 280 had combined them and increased their usefulness. But while there was much to be thankful for, he could not conceal the fact that there had been difficulties and discouragements. Some had left the Alliance, and perhaps others would leave; but he thought it would only cause the Alliance to be increased in strength and efficiency. Like the cutting of the shrub which strengthened its stem and extended its branches, so that it was better able to bear the storm. Let us take courage then; the Alliance would in time demonstrate its true value; times of trouble were approaching when the Alliance would be a rallying point for all true christians.

Public Meeting.

A Public Meeting of the Members and Friends of the Organization, was held in Exeter Hall on Friday, the 6th Oct., which was numerously attended, Sir C, E. Eardly, Bart. presided. Eloquent addresses were delivered by the Chairman; Mr. J. P. Plumptre, M.P.; Rev. W. Arthur, of Paris, and other Members.

Sir C. E. Eardly said—Surrounded as he now was by brethren from various parts of this country, he could not but remember that, two years ago, on the occasion of a similar meeting, he had seen around and below him many brethren from other countries, indeed from almost every country in christendom, and he could not but reflect upon the events through which they had passed since their return to their own land. He not only traced them in their return to France, to Switzerland, to the United States, and to Germany, each in their respective circles originating branches of the Alliance which would carry out the same principles which the present meeting had assembled to promote, but he also followed them through those important and stirring events which had been occurring around them. Paradoxical as the assertion might appear, it was his opinion that it was the events of 1848, which brought here their brethren of the Evangelical Alliance in 1846. To single out au instance, he believed it was because, in the spring of 1848 an infuriated mob was to assemble around the institution of deacon-nesses, which was presided over by M. Verneil, and because the life of that excellent man was to be endangered, and his faith to be tested—that God brought him here in 1846, that he might know when his faith was tried in Paris that there were brethren in England, in America, and in Europe who were praying in his behalf.

Mr. Plumptre, M. P. said,—He saw before him a goodly assembly of persons of different grades in society, of different ages, of different religious denominations, and it might be of different countries; but that Great Being who was in their midst saw one char-acter inscribed upon all of them,—that of sinner. But, blessed page 281 be God, he believed that with regard to many of them, there was a happy addition to the name of sinner,—he meant sinner saved by Grace; and he believed farther, that that grace which brought them salvation by the Lord Jesus Christ, was apprehended by one instrument—namely, faith; and that that faith sprung from one fountain—that it was not of themselves, but was the gift of God. If these, then, were the topics to which as brethren in Christ, they directed their attention, it surely behoved them to lose sight of all minor differences, to be bound together in this one bond of Union, and to rejoice together in that name which was above every name—the name of their common Saviour and Redeemer.

The Rev. Mr. Arthur, said,—In every part of the earth, amidst every variety of the human race, and under all possible forms of government, of manners, and of religion, one thing is evident—transition. Look where you will and you behold it. Yonder it is treading with burning steps upon the snows of Greenland; and yonder breathing in a healthy infancy, amidst all the malaria of Guinea. We see it overleaping the wall of China, and it is yonder again in New Zealand. In India we see it too, penetrating territories that have been closed for long ages, and defended by millions of hereditary priests. It is entering Turkey, and opening the doors of the harem, and establishing, under Mussulman protection, Evangelical Churches in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ. We find it also treading soil long forbidden to the spirit of transition—boldly marching over the Italian land,—to the city of the Seven Hills, heaving them with bold and resistless motion, and declaring in the ears of the Pontiff—like a loud and unexpected thunder-clap—“Wicked and living Anti-Christ.” This spirit is spreading every where. I find no community that is not wanting something new, except those communities that have obtained “pure religion and undefiled,” in the Gospel of the Son of God. It appears to me as if, sitting as we are in our peace, and amidst our privileges, all the world were now presenting to us a demand for the gospel which we possess, as if the continent of Europe, stumbling upon barricades, and gasping in the smoke of gunpowder, and stained with blood, were crying out for “pure religion.” There is a phrase in the cant of modern philosophy upon the continent, which is applicable to men whose hearts are set upon doing something for their generation, “Men of the future.” Young christians, in the order of the providence of God, you are to be, as to material life, “Men of the future.” Then look to the destinies of days that are coming. I feel an impressive sense of the need we have to forget all but three things—union, holiness, and self-denial. Let us make haste to be one. Let us be hungry after holiness. Let us be ready to deny ourselves, even to the death.—Are we, knowing that we have God's work in hand, and man's salvation at heart, to sit still in little comfortable efforts, that never cut at the root of one of our habits, or interfere with one of our domestic enjoyments? As a young minister, I look round on the ministry of my own age or thereabouts and I see one thing. I look for heresy in doctrine, no; there is respectability. I look for scan-page 282dal in living, no; all is respectable. I look for great extravagance and fanaticism, no; all is respectable. I look for broken hearts, audiences bathed in tears, for vestries crowded with anxious inquirers, for ministers doors from which streaming eyes are turning, no; all is respectable—very respectable, and this appears to me to be the chief characteristic of our ministry. We want something that will rouse us to altogether a different view ef the mission God hath given us, and to the danger of the souls of men.

British And Foreign Bible Society, 1848.

New Zealand.—20,000 copies of the New Zealand Psalter are now in the press. The Committee have been also induced, on the representation of the Church Missionary Society to undertake an edition of the Pentateuch and Book of Joshua in the New Zealand language, consisting of 10,000 copies.

Primitive Methodist Conference.

The twenty-ninth Conference of the Connexion, was held in Leeds. It commenced on Wednesday, June 7th, 1848, and closed on Saturday the 17th. Great harmony prevalied throughout the various sittings of the Conference, and the institutions of the Connexion were reported as prosperous.

The affairs of the Chapels were subjected to an examination much more searching than on any former occasion, and the rules brought up respecting them, promise to be highly beneficial. The financial bearings of the Chapels, with a few exceptions, such as may be expected to exist in a large religious body, were good.

The Missionary establishment was heartily supported in the Conference. Notwithstanding the great commercial depression which has prevailed for several months, the circulation of the Connexion Magazines and other books had improved. The reports of the Sabbath Schools presented an increase of scholars, Teachers, and School-rooms; and in some of the schools the work of conversion has been cheering. Many pious young men and women who had resolved to devote themselves to the spiritual interests of the rising generation, beheld the success of their efforts, and felt their own souls abundantly strengthened in grace. From the reports of those Circuits in which the work of God had progressed the most, family visiting and street-processioning had been markedly useful; and the Conference, convinced of the utility of these Primitive Methodistic means of usefulness, was desirous that they should be extensively employed throughout the Connexion.—The conviction that soul-saving preachers are the Connexion's chief staff, is gaining strength, and the difficulty to obtain stations for preachers of the opposite class is increasing every year. Such being the case, it cannot be too seriously remembered, that what are fantastically called the accomplishment of the pulpit are not page 283 in great demand amongst the Primitive Methodists, and that those who deal much in them will not be retained with tenacity. The staple qualifications required in Primitive Methodist Ministers are, a fair share of intellectual and physical strength, deep piety, thirst for souls, a good knowledge of the Scriptures, and of Methodistic theology, aptitude to appeal effectually to the understandings and hearts of their hearers, unostentatiousness of manner, regularity in the arrangement of their work, and punctuality, prudence and zeal in the prosecution of it, and disinterested, ever-burning, persevering efforts to bring souls from the dominion of Satan into the fold of Christ. For such ministers there are plenty of stations and an average amount of wages for their work, whereas those who rest in the more formal performance of their duties without “winning souls,” are as cumbrous members of the body from which the healthy members will seek to be severed. The loss of members for the year by immigration, removals, and 1,336 deaths, was more than made up, as the following statistical returns will show:—

Members 89,601, being an increase of 2,606

Members 89,601 being an increase of 2,605
Itinerant Preachers 511, being an increase of 15
Local Preachers 8,056 being an increase of 216
Class-Leaders, 5,522, being an increase of 183
Connexional Chapels 1,473, being an increase of 52
Worship, 3,481, being an increase of 142
Sunday Schools 1,136, being an increase of 67
Gratuitous Teachers, 16,569, being an increase of 1,428
Sunday Scholars, 87,273, being an increase of 3,787

On the Evening of the 10th, the Lord's Supper was administered to the delegates and friends in Quarry-hill Chapel. On the 11th a Camp-Meeting was held in Woodhouse Moor, attended by many thousands of people, in the evening various love-feasts were held. On the evenings of the 12th, 13th, and 14th, Missionary meetings were held, and liberal collections made for the further spread of the gospel. The delegates also ably advocated the cause of Temperance at meetings beld in the Kirk-gate Market-place, and Park-lane chapels.

The National School Society.

In the Christian Times of September 29, is a letter addressed to the Archbishop of Canterbury, and signed “Thomas Thompson.” The topics embraced in the letter are “The National School Society,” “Puseyism in the Church,” and the “Prospective Endowment of Romanism.” On the first of these, among other things, the writer says—

It is demonstrable, my Lord, that the management of this In-page 284stitution is more than semi-Popish. It is Papal. Charges have been laid against it by competent witnesses, men of character and standing in your own church, which, so far as I know, have never been answered. In the Essex Standard, of Friday Oct. 29, 1847, there is reported a long and eloquent speech of the Rev. Francis Close, of Cheltenham, in which, among other things tending to expose the anti-Protestant character of the institution in question, he says,—“I do not wish to appear as the accuser of any institution whatever; but I feel bound, as an honest man, to say thus much for myself, that I would just as soon send a youth to be instructed in the Vatican at once, as to one of the National Society's training schools, to be instructed in the doctrine of the Church of England. That is my opinion; and if you doubt my authority, I may say that I am not singular in that opinion, but that a large portion of the clergy by whom it is entertained, have signified to the government that they will not have young men from St. Mark's as teachers in their school—nor send young men there.” In 1845 there appeared in the Record a full statement of the doctrines taught at St. Mark's Chapel, and at Christ's Church, Westminster. Among these doctrines we find the following:—“The first great benefit derived from baptism is the washing away of original sin.” “From the moment of baptism, children are justified, or counted righteous, and become acceptable in God's sight.” “Holiness will lead us, in the end, to attain to the Kingdom of God., The Bible is represented as “a very large book, difficult to understand, mysterious,” and so much so that “two persons beginning to study it with an honest desire to understand it, will come to very different conclusions.” These are but a few specimens of the education imparted in the normal schools of a Society which has nearly one million of the sons and daughters of protestant England under its superintendence, which is continually receiving from the Treasury large grants of public money, enabling it to poison the rising race and future generations with the rankest heresies of Romanism, and which has as its President the estimable Arch-Bishop of Canterbury, the Head under Her Majesty of the Protestant Episcopal Church of our beloved father-land. My Lord I beseech you to investigate the matter. To have the Well-head of religious instruction poisoned by the professed guardians of saving truth, under the presidency of the Bishops of the National Church, in the middle of the nineteenth century, and at the national expense, is a very serious matter.”