Page images

while the Lancashire Church departed to some extent from that order, in ordaining by presbyters or pastors of other Churches ? The answer to this is supplied in our knowledge of the special kind and quality of Lancashire Independency. Dr. Halley exhibits the speciality of Lancashire Independency in its source. “ The Congregationalism of Lancashire as it was to some extent modified by Mr. Eaton, its most influential supporter, apon the New England model, more nearly approximated Presbyterianism than the sterner Independency of London and the Eastern counties.” “Mr. Eaton, although a decided Congregationalist, his Congregationalism was in everything, except in its relation to the civil power, of the New England type. He had observed how beneficially the Independent discipline of the Pilgrim Fathers had been modified, without injury to its principles, by the influence of Presbyterian emigrants. - He had learnt how Churches really and inflexibly Independent, might become united and helpful to one another by ministerial unions and ecclesiastical consociations. He had cordially approved, and to some extent promoted, the measures by which the Independency of the first settlers and the Presbyterianism of later emigrants had been united in a common Congregationalism."* With this fact before us, of the Independency of Lancashire being to a great extent founded and shaped by the labours of Mr. Eaton, we have no difficulty in explaining the slight departure of the Walmesley Church from the strict order of the Savoy Confession, in the matter of ordination. Presby. terianism enjoined ordination by presbyters, the Independency of Lancashire had an innate though modified element of Presbyterianism in itself, and in such a system nothing could be more natural than for the Church to elect, and for presbyters to ordain, the pastor elect.

Another question also arises ont of the incident; granting that the special circumstances under which Independency took its rise in Lancashire, may account for its peculiar development in that county, how has it happened that the Independents generally have abandoned the mode of ordination by the eldership of the Church itself, and have adopted the course which was followed by the old Congregationalists of Lancashire, of ordaining by presbyters ? The true explanation of this change of procedure is found in the fact that in the year 1691 the Presbyterian and Congregational ministers of London came to a happy union, and published the “ Heads of Agreement,” to which they both assented. In this published declaration it was stated that after a pastor had been “ chosen by the brotherhood of that particular Church over which he is to be set, and he accepting, he be duly ordained and set apart to his office over them; wherein it is ordinarily requisite that the pastors of neighbouring congregations concur with the preaching elder or elders, if such there be.” These “Heads" gave the rules of procedure not only to the London Churches, but were also extensively adopted by Churches in the provinces. We have the testimony of Mr. Harmer that the management of the Congregational Churches in Norfolk and Suffolk had been conformable to them as far back as the memory of man reaches.” There is ample evidence that other provincial Churches also shaped their conduct by the same rule, so that we think it may be fairly assumed that the present mode of ordination among the Independents, took its rise from the event which led to the publication of these “Heads of Agreement.” It must not be supposed, however, that the Independent Churches uniformly and without exception conformed to this rule, but it may be affirmed that after some little delay and demur they gradually acquiesced in it. About the middle of the last century, a Church might be found here and there which adhered to the plan of the old “ Confession ;' one such occurred at Whitehaven, the Church book of which place states that at the ordination of its pastor, “the Church did not think it necessary to call in the assistance of ministers, judging that every Church hath a power to appoint its own officers without being dependent upon any other, and that the imposition of hands generally used, was no ways useful or essential to a minister's ordination." The Wellingborough Church ordained Mr. Grant in 1723 according to the mode previously adopted, “but on his resigning his charge in 1770, their old ideas had become extinct, and Mr. Carver, his successor, was ordained by the ministers of the neighbouring Churches in the usual way."

* Halley; vol. ii., 62, 82.

Our modern practice seems to be founded upon that which prevailed in Lancashire two hundred years ago, but it may be doubted whether we have not relaxed in the scrupulous and conscientious fidelity that used to be shown by the pastors who officiated on those occasions, a relaxation which has been greatly to our disadvantage.


By Reb. Josiah Miller, M.A. The value of lay-agency in the Christian Church is beginning to be recognised by all denominations ; but the subject of culture for that work has been little considered and discussed. We believe that it would be of great advantage to promote a healthy public sentiment amongst the people of God, upon this part of one of the most pressing and important questions of the day. In former days, the adequate training of the ministry itself was either neglected or opposed by prejudiced and fanatical minds, which asked for a "God-made ministry," without taking into account the Divine requirement of the culture and development of those gifts which He had bestowed to be improved ; and it is to be regretted that even now there are every year those who enter the ministry, either without any proper preparation, or without sufficient previous study and discipline. But, on the whole, public sentiment in the Christian world is right with regard to the need of special training for the work of the ministry. Able men are raising up supplementary collegiate institutions, and anxiously pressing us on to a time when every minister shall so add culture to ability and piety, as to be “ a workman that needeth not to be ashamed."

But is not the training of laymen for Christian work also necessary In times far less advanced than our own, society has demanded that the humblest handicraft should not be practised till years had been spent in its acquirement. Before making a pair of shoes or a loaf of bread, there must have been a seven years' apprenticeship; and now the cry is everywhere for skilled labour, “ technical" knowledge, and emphatically for “culture." And shall it be thought right, that Christians should at once engage in the most difficult and responsible work, simply because of their commendable willingness for service, and burning enthusiasm to do something for Christ? To us it seems that it would be in every way better if there were time given to preparation, and the enthusiasm showed its strength by leading to a daily training, pursued in spite of difficulties, and for a considerable period, till there was recognised qualification for evangelistic work; for in every department of Christian effort, whether it be in religious conversation, Sunday-school teaching, or preaching, there are three principal elements of knowledge to be acquired, and these cannot be thoroughly learned without much diligent and thoughtful study. The mind to be acted on, must be known ; its nature and laws should be examined, and it should become familiar to us by much actual observation. Thus the Christian teacher will be alive to its dangers and aware of its subtleties; he will know how to awaken attention, excite interest, and produce a lasting impression; he will succeed in stirring the conscience, convincing the judgment, and winning the heart. The Holy Book, to be used as the instrument, must also be known; and how much knowledge is often required to give an intelligent and useful exegetical explanation of a single chapter! Questions of geography and history, manners and customs, human government and religion, theology and ethics, have all to be answered. And if we pass from passage to passage, what a wide range of subjects is included in & Book that was ages in forming, that speaks of so many countries and peoples, and was written by so many hands; that reaches in its testimony to a period before all other history and extends to eternity, and that treats all the profoundest questions, both human and divine. And in addition to knowledge of the mind to be acted on, and the Book that is to be the agent employed, there must be aptness to teach, if there is to be success in Christian effort. Teaching itself is a vocation; many possess knowledge and are themselves impressed with the truths of the Gospel, but they fail to instruct and impress others: they have not given attention to the art of teaching. To amuse and instruct one child would tax the patience of an uninitiated person, and he would probably fail in his task; but the trained infant-school teacher is not embarrassed with a hundred, but gathers them around her in a cheerful smiling band, and pleasantly beguiles them into knowledge and good habits.

It will be admitted, that to become master of these thiee elements there must be training. But it may be objected, that he who is master of them should give his life to the ministry, and not be satisfied with anything less; and that he who is not, cannot find time, amidst the absorbing avocations of his daily course, to acquire them. We reply, that he who devotes his leisure to preparation for Christian work, comes from his ordinary occupation to the favorite pursuit with peculiar zest; and that such a course pursued during a long period, will almost equal in its results what may be accomplished in a college curriculum, when all other occupations are laid aside. Disappointment has often followed, when the young Christian, in the earnestness of his first enthusiasm, has resolved to enter the ministry, without sufficiently considering whether he had the requisite qualifications, or whether he could not accomplish more by rendering Christian service in connection with a secular occupation. Why should there not be many lay-students who, while enjoying the advantages of a collegiate course, should continually aim to qualify themselves for the subordinate offices of the Christian Church? And when there are so many facilities for culture, such as books, classes, and lectures, why should there not be many Christians who, though they cannot command a college course, will subject themselves to a continual training for Christian service ? The time is past for comfort and criticism to suffice for the pew. If a man avows himself a Christian, he is immediately asked what he will do for Christ. He is taught that an idle Christian is a solecism, and that “he is not his own, but bought with a price.” But it will be the work of a generation to provide a laity trained for Church service. We acknowledge the claim to service ; it will be a step in advance to admit that it must be cultured, and to give devoted toil that it may be so.

Will it not be well that our young men and women should have this subject brought before them ? Our hope is in them, as the future district visitors, Sunday-school teachers, deacons, and village preachers; and there is every reason to believe, that the experience of the coming twenty years will add to every argument in favour of their being trained for their work. Giving themselves heartily to the Saviour, having it in view to be eternally His, they are called the severest tests. They are zealous; but are they willing to give a practical proof of it by toiling at grammar, till inaccuracies of expression, that might offend, are laid aside ? Are they willing to sit at the feet of wise and good men, till they have acquired correct habits of thought and expression, and until they have exchanged their superficial acquaintance with Scripture and theology for a thorough knowledge, so as to prevent the possibility of their bringing the Gospel into contempt, or making its services a weariness, by their public inefficiency? Are they willing daily to regard their course as a life-long education and discipline to serve Christ's cause in the world, by which religion will be inwoven into every part of the fabric of their life, and by which there will be in them enjoyment of religion, growth in the Christian life, and a testimony to men to an extent otherwise unattainable ?

While preparing this paper, we have seen that there has been commenced in London an autumn course of lectures in connection with the " Lay Preachers' Training Association.” No charge is made to those who wish to attend, and about seventy members of the new society have already enrolled themselves. Why should there not be similar courses of lectures in several of our central towns ? And why should not a similar work be attempted by ministers in the smaller towns, that the workers might be collected in bands, and trained for their work ?

Such noble laborious ministers have been raised up by God, that even the “one-man system" has borne good fruits, though continually crippled for want of sufficient supplementary organisation, and for lack of numerous qualified helpers; and too often we see our most useful ministers prematurely worn out by the excess of work thrust upon them, while the spiritual capacities of laymen are rusting for want of exercise. How best to utilise these dormant powers is one of the crying questions of the day. At present a practical difficulty lies in the way of their use,—the ordinary congregation is impatient of them in public service, because they have no special training for it. To this work laymen should gird themselves, and the power of the ministry would be economized, and the latent capacity of the congregation would be developed and applied. In proportion as this is accomplished, and the ministry is surrounded by a band of cultured Christian workers, so will that ministry be appreciated, sympathised with, and adequately sustained and supplemented; and the joy, fruitfulness, and beauty of the Christian Church will appear.

THE OLD TOWN AND ITS ASSOCIATIONS. Among the scenes which arrest the traveller's eye there is, perhaps, no one which more awakens interest and curiosity than the Old Town. Especially is it so to the mind thoughtful and accustomed to review the past, and mark the progress of society. Some objects, says Dr. Johnson, are worth seeing, but not worth going to see ; but, we think, the Old Town is worth going to see. As we journey we see it in the distance, resting quietly in the midst of the wide-spreading landscape ; and as we approach it we find that we may be instructed as well as pleased in looking at and con. templating its many objects, on which time has strewed the frost of ages, and which recall to our minds a whole history.

Some of our old English towns have, especially, such objects, and vividly recall the doings and scenes of past days. The old houses, with their abutments, sloping roofs, and casement windows; pieces of cemented stone, which once formed part of the surrounding wall; the old church, with its tablets and monuments, speaking of honoured dust entombed for ages; the city gate, arched over, and exhibiting its crude figures, are all beautiful with the poetry of age, and speak to us in silent voice of past

« PreviousContinue »