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Thb proposal for a Congress of European sovereigns, to which we referred in our last number, may be considered to be " done with." Several of the minor sovereigns thankfully accepted the Emperor's invitation; but all the great powers raised difficulties, and England virtually settled the matter by an absolute, though polite, refusal to attend. The general opinion is, that little good could have come of the Congress. Russia refused to allow Poland to be discussed; Austria, Italy and Hungary. What could have come of a Congress at which all the chief questions were to bo tabooed?
By the time this page reaches our readers, the message of the American President will have been received. It will probably give, far better than we could give it now, the Northern view of the war. Meantime, the correspondent of the Times, stationed at Richmond, has written a very remarkable letter from that city, dated November 14th. He says that the struggle now approaches a crisis, and he speaks of Confederate prospects in a tone of despondency altogether new to his correspondence. We hope that his "fears" will prove to be justified.
It seems from the latest accounts reoeived in Paris from Madagascar, that the very improbable belief that King Radama was still living gained in strength. His widow, the present Queen, had, it appears, entered into a morganatic marriage with her prime minister—a union which, it ia said, led to a violent outbreak raised by the nobles and great dignitaries, who caused the unfortunate minister to be strangled.
"We deeply regret to announce the death, on the 20th of November, of the Earl of Elgin, the Governor-General of India. He is the third Governor-General to whom, in rapid succession, the cares of the government of India have proved fatal; and we may add to the list the name of Mr. Wilson, who sank under a similar and too heavy burden, _ Mr. Laing, also, it may be remembered*, saved his life only by leaving in time. It is said that this is a part of the penalty we pay for our Indian empire. It is a relief to add that Sir John Lawrence, who is known to entertain views of our duty to India as a Christian people far in advance of the majority of our Indian rulers and officials, has been sent to take Lord Elgin's place.
Our readers have probably already heard of the Bevere persecution to which some of our brethren in Russia have been subjected. Two of them, named JannBohn and Gaertner, were sentenced to imprisonment by looal authorities some time since, for preaching and teaching in accordance with "the tenets of the Baptists." We are thankful to Bay that, on appeal to St. Petersburg, the
sentences, so far as these brethren are concern^, have been reversed. They have been set at liberty. "We hope that this result will be the means of freeing other brethren from similar persecutions. The financial difficulty of the Baptist Missionary Society, to which we referred in our last number, continues to excite considerable attention. We rejoice to say that, in many parts of the country, efforts are being made to aid the Committee in meeting the difficulty. We believe we may announce that the anticipated deficit, which was stated at eight thousand pounds, is already fixed
Srespectively at a considerably smaller amount. [any of the churches are doing nobly. A very interesting meeting, to inaugurate the jubilee of the Baptist Irish Society, was held in Kingsgate Chapel, London, on the 7th December. The Rev. Dr. Hoby occupied the chair; and several interesting addresses were delivered. It was stated that the Society had been formed, fifty years since, in the vestry of Kingsgate (then Eagle Street) Chapel, The Rev. Joseph Ivimey, who was its first secretary, was referred to by nearly all the speakers.
A public meeting of some hundreds of working men was held at the beginning of last month in the Lambeth Baths, Westminster Road, on the rumoured attempt of the Ecclesiastical Commissioners to appropriate Bunhill Fields burial -ground to building purposes. G. Hill, Esq,, of the Lambeth vestry, presided, and introduced the business of the meetiDg by calling upon Mr. G. M. Murphy to deliver a lecture upon the subject. The lecturer traced the history of Bunhill Fields from the time it became a bone-hill by the burial there of many who died of the plague in 1665. Soon after which it became a Nonconformist burial-ground, and among the buried there lie John Owen, Oeoree Fox, John Bunyan, Daniel De Foe, Isaac Watts John Wesley's mother, Dr. Lardner, and many martyrs of political and ecclesiastical tyranny. Mr. Murphy then traced the proceedings of the Ecclesiastical Commissioners, into whose hands this property had fallen, detailing the character of their dealings in the matters with which they had been entrusted, concluding with proposing the following resolution, which was seconded from atnone
the audience, and unanimously carried: *« That
this meeting, having learned with surprise that it is in contemplation by the Ecclesiastical Commissioners to remove the remains of the honoured dead from Bunhill Fields, and to let the land for building purposes, cannot but express its utmost indignation at such a sacrilegious project, especially as in that renowned place are the mortal remains of the immortal author of the * Pilffrim** Progress.'" ■****■
College Street, Northampton.—The ancient church and congregation here, presided oyer by the Rev. J. T. Brown, and of which Dr. Ryland was once the pastor, having for a long time required a new place of worship, at length set about its erection, and on Thursday, Nov. 26, the place was opened with the customary services. The site is the same as before. The new chapel will comfortably seat 1,100 persons. The opening services brought together a large number of persons from the town and neighbourhood, and at each of the services, particularly that in the evening, the chapel was crammed to excess. The morning service was commenced by the pastor, who offered a most appropriate prayer. The 24th Psalm was then sung. The lessons were read by the Rev. E. T. Prust, who afterwards offered prayer. The sermon in the morning was preached by the Rev. W. Landels, of London, who took for his text Gal. vi. 6. It was a powerful and beautiful discourse. Tho Rev. W. Knowles offered the concluding prayer. The dinner was provided at the Swan Inn, Derogate, and the company, which numbered about 120 persons, consisted chiefly of visitors from the neighbourhood. The chair was occupied by Mr. J. Perry, and speeches were made by Mr. Brown, Mr. Landels, Mr. Mursell, of Kettering, and others. In the evening an able and impressive s»rmon was preached by the Rev. J. H. Hinton, M.A., of London, from Col. i. 12, andalarge number not being able to obtain admittance, a second sermon was preached in the large room over the school-room, by the Rev. J. Mnrsell, of Kettering. On (he following Sunday, the Rev. J. P. Mursefi, of Leicester, preached both, morning and evening, and on the Monday evening a public meeting was held, the Rev. J. T. Brown in the chair, when addresses were delivered by the Revs. J. Brown, G. Nicholson, T. Arnold, T. T. Gough, J. P. Mursell, J. P. Haddy, and others. In thecourse of the evening it was stated that the cost of the building was about £7,000, and that the receipts, including collections at the opening services, amounted to £5,355.
HiLBorsin;, Cambridgeshire.—The oversight nf the Baptist church in this place has been accepted by the Rev. H. T. Wardley, until a few weeks since a minister of the Countess of Huntingdon's Connexion in Worcester, where for twelve years be has laboured with much wisdom, patience, and success. On. Sunday, December 6th, Mr. Wardley preached his farewell sermous at Worcester, and on the Monday evening following the handsome sum of 100 guineas was presented to him from his friends in the city generally, as weQ as those of his own congregation, as a substantial testimony of the respect which lie has won to himself from all as a minister of the Gospel, and of the affection which he has inspired in many who have been more intimately acquainted with him. At the same time an elegant service, worktable, &o., were presented to Mrs. Wardley from the ladies of the congregation. Having embraced the doctrine of believer's baptism, the distinctive tenet of the Baptist denomination, Mr. Wardley ia, of course, considerably influenced by conscientious reasons in leaving Worcester (much to the regret of all who know him) to take the charge of the Baptist church in this place. It is rather singular that the pulpit so lately vacated by Mr. Bailey in favour of infant christening, liturgy, surplice, &c, should be about to be occupied by a gentleman who has just renounced all these for Mr. Bailey's former convictions. Mr. Wardley commences bis labours at Melbourne on the iirst Sunday of the new year,
Upton"-oh"-sevebit, Worcestershire.—A social tea-meeting was held on Wednesday evening, November 25th, at the Town Hall, Upton-onSevern, to give a cordial welcome to the Rev. J. R. Parker. More than five hundred friends assembled for tea. The meeting which followed was of an interesting character ; the large hall, which was tastefully decorated, being crowded to excess. After a suitable piece had been sung, prayer was offered by the Rev. M. Philpin, of Alcester, after which the Rev. W. Symonds, of Pershore, chairman, delivered some wine and judicious counsel to his young friend, giving him on behalf of all the ministers present the right hand of fellowship. Then followed Mr. Thomas Taylor, senior deacon, who warmly responded to the welcome given, and spoke in the highest terms of his pastor's zeal and devotedness to his work. Addresses of hearty welcome were delivered by the Revs. T. Wilkinson, of Tewkesbury; T. Rose, of Pershore; S. Dunn, Atch Leneh; M. Philpin, Alcester; and by the pastor. Since Mr. Parker's settlement a new chapel has been erected about two miles from the town, and is nearly paid for. Thirty-one believers have been added to the church, and a large number of candidates are waiting. The congregation have so much increased, that the chapel at Upton is being enlarged considerably, and also the schoolroom adjoining.
Southampton.—On the 13th of November, Mr. J. Collins was ordained pastor of the Baptist church worshipping in the Carlton Rooms, Southampton. The services, which were of a very interesting character, were conducted by the Revs. C. Chambers, R. Caven, M. Hudson, J. B. Burt, G. Rogers (who gave the charge), and T. Adkins (who addressed the church). About 300 friends sat down to tea at the Carlton Hall, after which a public meeting was held, the paBtor in the chair. Upwards of 600 were present. A brief statement relative to the building fund was made, from which it appeared that £200 had been paid off the ground, that £160 remained in hand, and £190 in good promises; £84 various expenses, transfer of land, wall made, and ground rent, &c. £100 promised on condition that the Rev. J. A. Spurgeon remained, had been withdrawn. The Rev. J. Wright (Presbyterian) cordially welcomed Mr. Collins to Southampton, in the name of all his brethren in the ministry. He was followed by the Rev.R.Caven (Baptist), H.Carlisle (Independent), M.Hudson (Baptist), G. Rogers (Independents. March (Independent), and C. Chambers (Baptist). A collection was made in aid of the building fund,
Hackletow, Near Northampton-.—An interesting meeting was held at the Baptist chapel, Hackietou, on Thursday, Nov. 19th, in celebration of the jubilee of the Rev. William Knowles, who has presided over that church for fifty years. In the afternoon, at half-past four, more than 200 sat down to tea. At six in the evening a public meeting was held, when prayer was offered by Mr. John Nichols, one of the deacons. The Rev. T. Marriott, of Milton, presided, and, after a few remarks, presented a purse of money to Mr. KnowleB, as au expression of kindness and esteem, from the church and congregation, which he received with deep emotions of gratitude and pleasure, after which he gave a brief history of the church and of his ministry. The meeting was subsequently addressed by Messrs. Clark, Nichols. JohnKnightley, William Hands; Revs. J. Nichols, A. Smith, and 8. Williams. Mr. Knowles resigned the pastorate about two yearB ago, but still preaches once every Sabbath with Mr. Williams, the present pastor of the church.
Cann/ojt Sxbbet, Bibmingham,—On Monday
evening, Nov, 23rd, special services w^re hold in Cannon Street Chapel, Birmingham, for the recognition of the new pastor, the Rev. \V. L. Giles, late of Abbey Street Chapel, Dublin. The services were simply a recognition of Mr. Giles's pastorate by his brother Nonconformist ministers of Birmingham. For the accommodation of the speakers a temporary platform was erected, and this, like the chapel, was crowded. Among the ministers present were the Revs. J. E. Giles, of London (the father of the new pastor), 0. Viuee, J. J. Brown, R. W. Wilson, 8. Chapman, "W. L. Giles, &o. The services were commenced with Binging and prayer, after which resolutions of welcome were adopted, and addresses were delivered by the several ministers, including Mr. Giles himself, appropriate to the proceedings of the evening. The meeting was brought to a close with singing and the benediction.
Upton Chapel (late Church Stbbkt, BlackFriars Road), London.—The Rev. G. D. Evans, of Mr. Spurgeon's College, having accepted an invitation to the pastorate of this church, a special tea and public meeting to welcome Mr. Evans was held in the school-rooms and lecture-hull of the Metropolitan Tabernacle, on Tuesday, December 1st. The Rev. R. Robinson, of York Road, Lambeth, presided. Mr. William Pardon, one of the deacons, stated the circumstances which led to the union, and expressed the, warm feeling of the church towards its new pastor. The Rev. G. Rogers (Mr. Evans's tutor) bore a most honourable testimony to the Christian character, standing, and ability of Mr. Evans. The Revs. T. White, of Chelsea; S. Cowdy, of Arthur Street, Walworth j P. J. Turqnand, of York Street, Walworth; C. G. Gange, of Portsmouth; and J. Burton, of Park Street; C. H. Spurgeon; and Mr. Evans himself, delivered interesting and appropriate addresses.
Cirencester.—The recognition of the Rev. J. J. Browu as pastor of the ancient church meeting in Coxwell Street, Cirencester, took place on Wednesday, Dec. 9th. The Rev. J. Frize, of Fairford, asked the usual questions and offered prayer; and the Rev. R. P. Macmaster, of Bristol, preached a beautiful and powerful sermon from 1 Tim. iv. 6. A tea-meeting was afterwards held in the Temperance Hall, which was followed by a publio meeting in the chapel. The pastor occupied the
chair, and speeches were delivered by Mr. Wearing, of Swindon, the Rev. J. Davis, of Arlington, the Rev. R. P. Macmaster, and the Dissenting ministers of the town—Revs. J. Stratford (Independent), J. Dredge (Wesleyan), and S. Turner (Primitive Methodist). The attendance was very good, and a feeling of holy joy appeared to characterize all the proceedings.
Ministerial Changes.— The Rev. E. W. Thomas has given up his ministry at Cromer Street Chapel, London. He is open to an invitation near London. Mr. Thomas's present address is 200, Euston Road, W. 0.—The Rev. James Howell, pastor of the second Baptist church. Bury St. Edmunds, will shortly conclude his labours there.—The Rev. D. Davies, of Waentrodau, near Cardiff, has accepted the cordial and unanimous invitation of the church at Charles Street, Newport.—The Rev. G. D. Evans, of Mr. Spurgeon s College, has accepted a cordial invitation to become the pastor of Upton Chapel, now in coins* of erection at Barkbam Terrace. Lambeth RoaJ, London. The church and congregation meet until its completion at Taylor's Repository, Elephant and Castle.—The Rev. S. Hodges, Charlbury, Oxon, has accepted the unanimous invitation to the pastorate of the Baptist church at Btow-on-the-Wold, Gloucestershire.— The Rev. Dr. Leechman, on account of ill-health, has resigned the pastorate of the church at West End, Hammersmith, aud has taken up his residence at Bath.—The Rev. S. Allsop, ofWhittlesea, has accepted the earnest call of the first Baptist church at Longford, Warwickshire, and wiU com* meuce hiB labours iheia early in the new year.— Mr. William Williams, student of Haverfordwest College, has accepted a cordial invitation to become the pastor of Abernant Baptist Church, Aberdare, and purpoees to commence his labours on the first Sunday in February.—Mr. William Jones, student of Haverfordwest College, has received a unanimous invitation to the p^tstorate of the Baptist Church, Hebron, Dowlah, and has commenced his ministry at the above place.— The Rev. James T. Baily has resigned the pastorate of the church, Branch Road, Blackburn, aud is open to invitation to supply vacant churches. His address is, Witton, Blackburn.
We have pleasure in presenting our readers, this month, with a beautiful Engraving on Stotl, containing Pobtkaits Op Thibty Baptist Ministers. We have the more pleasure in placing this Engraving as a Frontispiece to our Volume for 1864, inasmuch as, through the liberality of the Publishers, no charge is made for it. We may repeat tho announcement roado last month, that henceforth no extra charge will be made on account of Portraits inserted in The Chttbch. The only extra charge, in future, will be the charge of One Halfpenny, in the December Number, for the Title and Index to the Volume. We should indeed rejoice if the circulation could be sufficiently enlarged to justify us in dispensing with thin additional charge also.
May we request our ministerial brethren, aud others, to do what is possible, this month, to recommend The Chukch in their respective circles?
We have pleasure in mentioning that the Publishers of this Magazine will henceforth be also the Publishers of Thu Baptist Reporter. It is intended to make it a first-class Threepenny Magazine. The January Number contains an admirable Portrait of the Kev. Hugh Stowell Brown, of Liverpool. We heartily trust that this new effort will be sustained by the Churches, so that The Repobter may become a power for good amongst us.
Vox,. Vti.-*-nbw Semes.] [febbuary. 1, 1864.
"Bnilt upon the foundation of the Apostles and Prophets, Jeans Christ himself bcin,»' the
THE OFFERING OF FIEST-FETJITS.
BT THE BET. JAMES MUBSELL.
The cumbrous and complicated ceremonial of the ancient law has long ago been done away by the advent of a freer and more spiritual economy. But the truths which that ceremonial was designed to teach, and the principles it was designed to illustrate, still endure in all their force and freshness. A clearer expression and a more effective enforcement has been provided for them in the Gospel. Thus the institution of sacrifice has been abolished; but the truths which underlay that institution, the evil and ill desert of sin, and the absolute necessity of atonement, are as true now as they ever were. But that solemn fact has been proclaimed, and that great need has been met, once for all, by the sacrifice of God's dear Son. So it is also with this injunction to offer the firstfruits of the harvest to God. The outward ceremony is no longer binding, but tlie relations of which that ceremony was intended to remind the worshipper are as real and living, and the feelings which it was intended to promote are as incumbent in our case as in that of the ancient Israelites. It may not be unprofitable, nor inappropriate to this early season of the year, to reflect a little on the meaning of this significant and characteristic provision of the Mosaic law.
It would not be difficult, and might be edifying, to trace out sundry typical allusions here. But this is not our present purpose. Nor need we pause to show how the command before us was intended to impress the general fact of man's dependence upon God for everything; to provide against the danger lest the Israelites, when the manna had ceased, and they had to obtain their food by ordinary means, should forget their obligations to Him whose power was as truly their support in the land of Canaan as it had been in the wilderness. A lesson this, we must all feel, which has not yet become superfluous or obsolete; but not the special lesson we desire just now to enforce. We wish rather to fix attention on the specific injunction to offer the first of the produce of the land to Cjod, before any was appropriated to human convenience and use. This is, it need hardly be said, no singular or solitary precept. The first-born of man and beast were in like manner to be devoted to Jehovah. There must be some special meaning and lesson in this. We think that lesson is both obvious and important. It may be briefly stated in three sentences. 1. Our first for God. '-. Our best for God. 3. Our all for God.
1. Our Fibst for God: or, in other words, God to be thought of, served, attended to, before ourselves. This is the simple and obvious principle of the Thole passage, and it is most emphatically stated in the 14th verse: "Ye shall e«t neither bread, nor parched corn, nor green ears, until the self-same day that ye hare brought an offering unto your God." And the same principle pervades the Bible. The object of that holy book is to uproot from our hearts that selfishness which is the very essence of sin. And it does this by inspiring within us anew affection, or rather by turning our old affections to a new object; by asserting the claim of God to the supreme love, homage, service of our heart and life. We find our principle observed in the Ten Commandments. God and his claims come first, man and his rights second. This our Saviour declares to be the order of the moral law: the "first and great commandment" is, "Thou shalt love the Lord thy God ;" the second, "Thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself." Look, too, at the pattern prayer that Christ has given us. When we pray our first thought is apt to be of our own need; we should begin our supplication with, "Give us our daily bread." But how runs the prayer he teaches us? "Thy name be hallowed; thy kingdom come; thy will be done ;" and then, "Give us bread; forgive us our debts; lead us not into temptation." God first, you see again, ourselves last.
This lesson needs reiterated utterance and enforcement. The world utterly ignores and reverses it. And even we, fellow-Christians, who profess that for us to live is Christ, how far are we from consistently acting it out in our daily life? It is too much a matter of tbeory with us, too little a matter of practice. In laying, for example, our plans for a day, amidst whose opening light we wake through God's preserving mercy, is our first thought, "How shall I best serve God to-dayP" or, "How shall I turn the day to most gainful or pleasurable account for myself?" In the views we habitually take of life, which has the first place, God or ourselves? Does the man of business think of his business first and chiefly as a means of " getting on," or as a sphere and opportunity for service to God? And our troubles, are we not too prone to think of these as something to be got rid of as quickly as possible, rather than to be submitted to as a Divine and gracious discipline? Do we not think more of our pleasure than of God's purpose in affliction? Nay, does not the same defect attach to our views of the Gospel itself? We regard it too much as just designed to save us from so much suffering, and to make us partakers of so much happiness, rather than as intended to glorify God by making us like him, and fitting us to serve him in love. Oh! let us learn this lesson more thoroughly; let us cultivate the hafoit of giving our first to God; the first hours of our days, the first fruits of our increase, our first desires in prayer, our first energies of thought and life. We may be certain that the pious Israelite entered into "the joy of harvest" with keener zest when he had devoutly rendered the first-fruits to God. And so we should find that the work of life hsd a new dignity, its joys a deeper satisfaction, and its sorrows a sacred solace, if our first thought in all were of G-od and not of ourselves.
2. Our Best for God. The first-fruits were to be given to him, as the freshest and best of the crop. And the same requirement was enforced in relation to every sacrifice. "And ye shall offer that day when ye wave the sheaf an he-lamb without blemish as a burnt offering unto the Lord." This requirement has ever been acknowledged as just and right by the best and holiest of God's servants. "I will not offer unto the Lord my God," cried David, "of that which doth cost me nothing." "Lo, I dwell in an house of cedars, but the ark of God dwelleth within curtains." And still this principle is susceptible of various applications, may well he used as a test in practical life. In the matter of giving to the cause of Christ, do we not act too much on the principle olf giving to him what we can spare from ourselves; adjusting his claims to ours, not ours to his? Time, thought, energy: would the faithful application of this principle work no change in our use aud devotion of these? Do we not too often give to prayer, and to the study of God's word, the dregs and leavings of our time, the listless attention of spirits worn and fagged by worldly work? L)o we bring to bear the same industry, forethought, self-devotion upon his servicei