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* learned men were the cause of great errors, and that we are not to communicate with sinners.' Strype adds, " Besides these sectaries there was information sent to the court in June, 1550, of another sort in Essex; but they, as it seems, were more harmless--namely, certain that came together on other days besides Sundays and holidays to hear sermons, who had preachers that preached to them; and that for aught I perceive was all their fault, for I do not find any erroneous doctrine laid to their charge.?"
We soon come to the story of the congregation which met in Bow Churchyard, and which was persecuted from place to place, sometimes assembling even in ships upon the river. On one occasion, when surprised by the officers, they escaped from a house on the banks of the Thames by swimming to a boat. “On the morning of December 12, 1557, as forty of them, men and women, sat together at prayer,' and in the meditation of God's Word, a stranger came amongst them, and after a short deception, partly intended to gain time, he was followed by King, the constable of the village (Islington), with six or seven more—one with a bow, another with a bill, and the rest with weapons.'
" As many more were at a short distance in ambush to render assistance if required. Some of the women, nevertheless, escaped in the field or on the way. Twenty-seven were captured, and of this number twenty-two were sent to Newgate. After an imprisonment of seven weeks, a message was brought to them by the keeper, offering immediate liberation if they would hear a mass. This overture was declined. • Thirteen of them were burnt, seven in Smithfield and six at Brentford ; two died in prison, and the other seven, with much trouble, through God's providence, escaped death.'
Dr. Waddington concludes with the story of Richard Fitz, and the Church formed in the Bridewell of the city of London in 1567, which is now regarded as the mother Church of modern Congregationalism. “Here were met a company of persons (imprisoned as a Puritan party], separated from their homes and families, languishing in prison, and it may be pinched with hunger. Some of their number were enfeebled by sickness, lying on & pallet of straw. A light shone upon them from heaven. They read the Scripture, · Upon this rock I will build my Church,' • Other foundation can no man lay than that is laid, which is Jesus Christ,' One is our Master,' they had to say, and we are brethren.' 'Christ in spiritual things is our only Lawgiver and King; His Word our only rule; His Spirit our Teacher and Guide. Let us unite in the confession of His name, and enter into a covenant to serve Him as a Church, to make known His trath, and to extend His peaceful reign.' Richard Fitz,- with his dying hand, sketched their simple · Order.' From that day until now churches of the same order have been planted, in their earlier history, amidst the bitter hatred of all parties, and severe persecution. They took root in the shade and grew amidst the storm. In an age of more than Egyptian darkness and bondage these humble pioneers for truth and freedom passed in single file through the gory path of martyrdom, to open the way for advancing millions to the enjoyment of blessings that secure the highest advantages for time, and lead to the glorious inheritance of eternity. What a course will be opened to the future historian, who, taking his point of departure from the iron gates of the Bridewell prison, in 1567, shall trace the long succession of faithful witnesses, the wonderful march of events, and mark the marvellous influence excited in Christian civilisation from the simple and holy principles then distinctly enunciated.”
A CONGREGATIONAL SUSTENTATION FUND.
3y Reb. W. M. Statham.* This subject, though new to the Union as such, has through the public press already occupied your thought. The organisation of a sustentation fund that shall harmonise with the freedom of Independency is said to be a scheme bristling with difficulties, but every goal worth reaching has a thorny road to it. What, then, is the goal worth reaching? In a sentence it is this—the raising of the pastoral incomes of nearly one thousand of our accredited English ministers to a standard more worthy of us as a body and much needed by them all. Many, quite as earnest in this matter as any of us, who wish to see a higher standard of ministerial income reached in our body generally, doubt if this sustentation-scheme path is a wise road for us to tread. They ask whether there are not such difficulties in kind as to warn Independents of the road altogether? Detriment to our Independency is the difficulty with some, the dread of infringing on the manliness of the ministry is the difficulty with others, whilst the fear of an organised central power is the bête noir of others. I shall respectfully submit presently some attempts to meet these and other objections.
You have by paper and debate in this Union repeatedly confessed the fact of the insufficient ministerial support of multitudes of our pastors. I shall endeavour, after giving an outline of the sustentation scheme, to show the extent of the necessity. One introductory word more. moving on to a new plane of things in this dear England. One part of our Congregational life has been a perpetuated protest from age to age against an Established Church. We shall soon all breathe a common air of freedom, and in breathing such salubrious oxygen, Episcopacy, did she but know it, will herself be doubly blessed. But are we in healthy organisation as a Congregational community for this new order of things? Do we not need to augment our efficiency in rural districts, to increase our cohesion everywhere, and to make every accredited minister everywhere feel that he may enjoy the nobility of his Independency with the common sympathy of a Congregational Union, which is such in nature as well as in name? The suggested plan may be very imperfect, open to objections of many kinds; but if this fail, is there not a demand upon us to rise to the emergency, and not to rest till we have discovered a more excellent way? After many months of inquiry and deliberation I was asked to read a paper on this subject to the Congregational Board of London Ministers: the matter was adjourned, and Mr. Gallaway also read a paper on the scheme. When a committee to report was formed we gave each other the benefit of mutual counsels, and a report was prepared, the substance of which was sent to the Congregational Union Committee by the London Board of Congregational Ministers, asking them to consider it here. I have seen no reason to doubt the wisdom of the general principles then laid down. At the commencement let me say I have no hope of a sustentation fund unless we can work it in the main through our County Associations; and if it be said, Why create a central fund outside them? Why not—to use the words I have heard—stir up each Association to increased exertion ? I reply that here comes out the need of a general fund. To stir up large Lancashire is one thing, and stir up little Dorsetshire is another, and in our case we have more weak Associations than we have strong ones. You want a general fund to which all the strong should contribute for the help of all the weak.
* Read at the Annual Assembly of the Congregational Union.
What, then, are some of the principles which should characterise the fund ? I can only give them in their general outline. There will be no difference of opinion on this—that it is the right and duty of all Churches, according to their ability, to render an adequate support to their own pastor. My argument is this—that in hundreds of cases they cannot do this, and that these are cases in which the Churches are justly existent as Independent Churches, and the ministers duly accredited by the Associations to which they belong. The minimum of any adequate support should surely not be less than £100; not that I think we should wait till this sum be actually provided for before we dispense the fund, but that our aim ought at least to be to reach that; nor do I think that any arbitrary line should be drawn. Within the range perhaps of £100 and £150 a-year there might be cases provided for as well. Then the aid to be administered should certainly be rendered to the Church in the discharge of their duty to the pastor. It should never be a benefaction to a minister, but a grant to the Church for the fulfilment of their righteous duty towards him. And then the aid should be, must be, conditional. It certainly would never do to aid all indiscriminately, without inquiry and without law. Such conditions should be simple, but definite and clear; and it would be essential to the working of the scheme that the County Associations, Home Missionary Society, and distributors of funds, should be respectfully requested to coincide in the plan. Certainly the Church and pastor should be in recognised connection with the County Associations. Certainly the Church should raise for their pastor such a sum as the distributors of any central fund might feel to be an adequate basis for them to supplement with aid; and certainly, although the suggestion may be open to the satirical criticism that it sounds like a Cromwellian Court of Triers, the pastor should furnish to the distributors of any sustentation fund satisfactory evidence of his ministerial qualifications. But though open to such supposed criticism this is done in multitudes of cases now, as by the Colonial Missionary Society, and the Home Missionary Society, and also by County Association grants. The grants should certainly be annual, and modified as circumstances may determine, terminating at once when the recipient may prove unworthy, and not be granted to any cases in which : strictly secular calling is pursued. Such conditions are of course open to modification and addition, and further, although perhaps there can be no legal amalgamation of existing funds for pastoral aid purposes, there may be a moral amalgamation of such funds. It would materially aid the object if the managers of charitable funds applicable for pastors could (with due regard to the provisions of their respective trusts) act in full knowledge of each other's votes, and in general concert with themselves and also with County Associations, the Home Missionary Society, and any Board that may hereafter be constituted under the auspices of this Union. Then all grants from charitable or other funds, and the annual value of any endowment, manse, or glebe should be taken into account as portions of the stipend to be aided by such central Board. And it seems desirable that a Board be formed as representative as possible, who shall favour all methods really adapted to the end, and, being entrusted with funds for the purpose, shall endeavour to work out the end desired in closest harmony with the managers of charitable funds, County Associations, and the Home Missionary Society. Finally, any grants from such central committee should be paid mainly through the medium of the treasurers of County Associations, and always on the due observance of the conditions.
Let us next weigh these few explanatory facts. If you take a minimum of £100 per annum for villages, and £150 per annum for towns, there are certainly more than eight hundred of our recognised ministers in England receiving less than these sums. Think, brethren, what that fact means. Perhaps those in towns having less than £150 are in harder straits than those in villages having less than £100, and I ask you what £100 a year in any part of England means nowadays to support the wants of a Christian pastor ?-£100! Why, in all these cases to a greater or less extent it means gnawing care, anxiety, headache, and heartache too.
Then weigh another fact. The augmentation of income does exist, and we need not debate the name. £18,000 is already raised by County Unions, which for the most part is supplemental to pastoral incomes. About £5,000 goes to the same object from the Home Missionary Society. Other trust funds contribute some £6,000 or more. Then there are ministers' houses, &c., all these resources producing, it is estimated, £25,000. When you raise about £10,000 a year more, you will about reach the low minimum of £100 in villages and £150 in towns.
Now take some popular objections. It has been objected that sustentation would weaken the Churches, that they would lean upon that rather than be developed by it. We think not. Brethren will tell us that the principle of administering aid can and has so been worked as to draw out rather than to dry up the liberality of the Churches. The principle of you as a Church raising so much, we as an Association proportionately increasing our aid, has wonderfully quickened the powers of some feeble Churches. It has been objected that centralisation is bad, that it is patronage, and liable to all the evils of patronage, that it would have a kind of imperial power, and that there is great dread amongst Independents of administrative Boards. Centralisation might be harmful if it were not largely representative of the whole country; but surely one large, intelligent, influential Board whose action would be before the whole Union would be a good thing. You dread one central body, but you have several working on no broad catholic principle of action, but each necessarily open to influences rising up here and there without any common law of procedure. One central Board must be better than the action of several Boards, acting for the same ends and to a large extent ignorant of the ground that their brethren have been treading. As now administered, one minister may have grants from three funds, and another, as nervous as he is necessitous, as high-minded as he is low-provisioned, does not apply for one. This can never be remedied till there is united action upon a broad platform and upon well-considered principles. It has been objected that it will create a distinction between recipients and non-recipients of the fund. Not at all. It is not a fund of charity. It is a fund of right. It is not related to the status of the minister, but to the weakness of the Church. As in Associations, a minister told me the weakest Church subscribes to the fund, so that they only receive half from their own fund, so will it be here. All Churches can aid, and then assistance be given, not as a charity to pastors, but directly to weak Churches, to make up what it is honourable, just, and right, that they should give their pastors. It has been objected that the whole thing would be Presbyterian in character, that it would be a Church court affair ; but surely the answer to this is that there is no infringement of individual liberty. Any Churches so called who choose to stand outside its requirements can stand outs.de its blessings. Their non-comprehension in a sustentation fund will leave them in the same condition as before. No Church courts compel them to come in, nor do they forfeit any existing right by keeping out. It is further objected that the United Presbyterians have had difficulties with their fund, have frequently re-adjusted it in detail, and find it has difficulties in working. Exactly; but unless they gave it up altogether, and said we are better without it than with it, there is no available argument against it. None can doubt that the Presbyterian Churches find that such a fund immensely contributes to their general weal. To say that a thing is Presbyterian is like the objection to chants, &c., that they are Episcopalian. The most dignified thing for us to do is to receive all the good we can from every system that lies about us. It has been objected that it would tend to prop up unworthy men, and