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best of causes, to which they and we are supremely devoted, and which more than cancel any unpleasant reflections arising from the outrages inflicted upon me, in the name of law and liberty, by a few proud and tyrannical spirits resident in Edinburgh and scattered in their associations over the kingdom.
But to return to the meeting at Chester. I will present you a better account of it than I can give. It is from the pen of that most estimable and excellent brother, whom you personally know—Elder James Wallis, of Nottingham. We quote from his Christian Mes. senger, of November, 1847. It is by far too flattering to myself, but by making the proper allowance for his enthusiastic affection and esteem, you will understand the details of the meeting much better than I could give them from my memoranda. The report of my remarks by the most amiable and excellent brother Stevens, Secretary of the meeting, were not seen by me till printed. They were read in the meeting, and judged to be substantially correct, though not expressly in my words. CO-OPERATION MEETING AT CHESTER.
Mollington, October 7th, 1847. [Dear BROTHER:-I have made an effort to forward you the Report by the time you desired it, and believe I have succeeded. It is not so trim as I could have wished; but its errors I beg you to charge to my inexperience, and the little time I have had in which to revise it, rather than want of good will.—Yours, &c., P. STEPHENS.]
This meeting having been duly announced, was convened in Chester on the 1st day of October. The assembly consisted of messengers from congregations in Great Britain and Ireland, advocating original Christianity, and contendựng for the ancient order of the church of God—the doctrines and institutions delivered to the faithful by the holy Apostles. The occasion was one of great interest as manifested in the transactions; and the order, propriety, and affability that prevailed at this meeting-all indicate, that the principles for which we plead are firmly established among us, that they are fully appreciated by the understandings and deeply rooted in the hearts of many devoted servants of God, and that they have exerted an influence, and obtained an ascendency in this realm, which even the combined opposition of the eager partizans of the many systems of buman device which unhappily distract this nation, shall never be able to destroy.
We were favored with the presence and counsel of our approved brethren Campbell and Henshall, beloved and esteemed for their works' sake. This was an advantage of which the brethren were duly sensible--a privilege in which they rejoiced. Brother Campbell was unanimously caìled to the chair, and brother P. Stephens of Mollington was appointed to act as secretary. The meeting being thus constituted, the presence and blessing of God were sought in fervent prayer, and the divine aid and direction humbly supplicated
in all deliberations. The president then rose to make some preliminary remarks, of which the following is a synopsis:
“The church of Christ is one grand community. It is a community of communities. The sure Foundation was laid in Zion, and the Lord said, 'On this rock I will build my church. It is obvious, that in this, as in many other places, the word church denotes the whole body or aggregate of the faithful. This collective body of believers, this large community, called the church, comprises many small communities. Hence the word is applied in the plural form, and we read of the churches in Judea,' 'the churches in Galatia,' and 'the churches in Asia. The church of Christ may thus be contemplated as one, and yet as many. As Israel was one nation, and yet contained many tribes, and these many families—so there are churches in families, in cities, in states, and these collectively form the church of Christ. Every family has its inalienable duties and obligations, rights, immunities, and privileges; to the full discharge and enjoyment of which it is called. So is it with every church of God. Now, families are accountable to cities, cities to nations, and nations to empires. Thus though each family has its own peculiar duties and privileges, yet it is amenable to a higher power. Every Christian church, also, while it has its own appropriate obligations and immunities, owes something to its sister churches. Duties grow out of relations; and the relation of the various churches to each other, under Christ the Head, calls for reciprocal duties. These duties will sometimes call for united exertions. Great achievements which cannot be effected by individuals, or by individual churches, call for co-operation. In the divine word there are various examples of combined effort; of the churches acting in concert for special purposes, and particularly for the spread of the gospel. Different crises at different times demand particular duties. There are at the present time certain duties requir from the churches in this kingdom. This is a crisis which calls on all who acknowledge the Lord Jesus, all who desire to be guided by the divine word, all who have at heart the extending of the knowledge of Messiah's name,—which calls on all the chureh, to take counsel together on matters of expediency. And having mentioned expediency, I will add,-it will be distinctly understood that this is the limit of what we have now to do. We are not here as legislators, to enact laws for the kingdom of heaven, the church of God, but we are here to deliberate on va. rious affairs of expediency. There are certain matters determined by God on which no human tribunal may sit in judgment.
“1. The faith is decided. On this point there can be no discussion. The faith may not be altered, amended, or modified. This is not within the limits of the affairs to be digested, disposed, or arranged by the present meeting.
“2. Piety is deeided. The sacred obligations of Christian wos. ship, of prayer and supplication, of praise and thanksgiving, were all adjusted before we were born, and are explicitly enjoined in the statute-book of Heaven.
“3. Nor are we here to take judicial notice of morality. This is expressly and fully propounded in the sacred scriptures.
“Our position therefore must be distinguished from the position of those communities that profess to decide what men are to believe; and I would again repeat it, our decisions are limited to details of expediency,-to those things, or forms of action which it was impossible, or unnecessary, to reduce to special precepts. The churches now come together by their representatives to consider certain circumstantials belonging to the kingdom. The great and important subject, therefore, to be brought before your notice in the first place, is the following:
"By what ways and means may the gospel be effectually published in this land?'
“This is a point of primary interest. That the gospel is to be preached, all admit. The important question is, How may this be effectually done? It can be done efficiently only by selecting qualified persons, entirely devoted to the work. None can excel in two businesses. Christ's work also is all-important, and ought not to be attended to as a merely secondary consideration. Suppose that there are a thousand churches in Great Britain: these can take care of themselves. They can see to their own edification. But there is the world without. What is to be done for them? There must be a standing corps, an army of faithful and devoted soldiers of the Cross, to approach the world without. Their number depends on the exigencies of society. The nation has its standing army: it is as necessary that there should be a standing army of faith; and the church is now under the strongest obligations to put forth her energies to redeem man from sinking down into ruin. We must then have a valiant, a faithful, an educated corps. I mean not a collegiate, but an ecclesiastical education. Let them be men mighty in the scriptures—men who can use the sword of the Spirit well. Qualified men. Men of piety. Thus shall they go forth 'terrible as an army with banners.",
The president having thus spoken, the various churches represented were ascertained, and are alphabetically described below:
Ros llanarch rigoiog-Brother Clark.
The brethren were then invited freely to express their views, sentiments, and convictions, relative to the important point already laid by the president before the meeting, and constituting at once both the grand subject of its deliberations, and the great object of its achievement—viz., the effectual publishing of the gospel in this country. That spirit of benevolence and philanthropy towards man which the gospel inspires, now became delightfully manifest. All were unanimous in desiring the promulgation of the gospel; considering, that the greatest boon that could possibly be conferred on man, is, to rescue him from the dominion of sin, from the shades and damps of spiritual death, and from the awful anguish of eternal ruin. Several interesting facts and incidents were related, showing what unexpected and felicitous consequences have resulted from faithfully persevering in the advocacy of the divine truths of the gospel. Va. rious suggestions, exhortations, and addresses, were also made by brother Davies, brother Wallis, and others, tending greatly to editication, comfort, and encouragement.
The present condition of the Christian Messenger was then represented to the brethren. Many were, to some extent, and for the first time, made aware of the opposition endured, the difficulties encountered, and the losses sustained, during a period of ten years, in conducting that periodical. Grateful feelings were educed towards the editor for his onerous labors connected with this valuable vehicle of communication, continued by him so long without yielding, in a pecuniary point of view, any advantageous return. The editor explained that he undertook the publication, not for the object of realizing profits by it, but to disseminate the truth, and in this diffusion, its influence has not been inconsiderable. That brother Wallis should be permitted to Jose in this matter of general interest, however, was regarded as highly improper, and provision was made to secure him against future detriment.
Considerable inconvenience and irregularity having been occasioned in various places by one church's receiving, without confes. sion, members whom another church had expelled, the attention of the meeting was drawn to this matter. The president was solicited to make some remarks on the subject, in the course of which he stated, that,
“There should be mutual respect between churches for each other's acts. As sisters in a family ought to respect the acts of each other, so ought sister churches. When one church receives a member whom another church has excluded, there is a manifestation of disrespect. If the case of any one applying for fellowship with one church who has been cut off from another be not one of immorality, then calmly hear the church; if satisfied with her decision in the case, well; before he can be received he must make confession; but if not satisfied, act according to your own judgment. It is obvious, at the same time, that if the applicant be received, the church rejecting him is discredited as a sister church. These are matters which the suggestions of prudence and discretion must regulate. There are things which “nature itself,” or common sense teaches. As to intercommunication, also, it would be improper to pass any enactment. If our recognition be demanded, we submit the matter to a committee, and adopt their decision. If they do not demand our recognition, we let them alone.”
The remarks made on this subject gave general satisfaction. It will be scarcely needful to observe, that in all questions submitted for consultation, we had the benefit of the learning, experience, and piety, of that venerable brother who presided on the memorable occasion. The following are the decisions unanimously determined:
1. Resolved, That all the churches now represented agree to cooperate in contributing to the support of a general evangelist.
2. Resolved, That the churches now represented state the amount which, in the ensuing year, may probably be contributed for general evangelical labors.
3. Resolved, That the churches not represented be invited to join in this co-operation.
4. Resolved, That brethren James Wallis and Jonathan Hine, Nottingham, and John Bell, Newark, be the committee to carry the plan of co-operation into effect, with power to add to their number.
5. Resolved, That as a testimony of our esteem for, and of our gratitude to those brethren who have so nobly and so generously undertaken to proclaim the gospel in this kingdom, one hundred pounds of the balance now in the treasurer's hands, be devoted to Bethany College.
6. Resolved, That the remaining seventy-nine pounds nineteen shillings, be devoted to the maintenance of a general evangelist.
7. Resolved, That brother Jonathan Hine be entreated to continue to act as treasurer.
8. Resolved, That we defend in the action now pending against brother Campbell on a charge of libel.
9. Resolved, That the following brethren be a committee for the management of business connected with this action:
Brothers James Ainslie, Dundee; John Davies, Mollington; John Dron, Auchtermuchty; Philip C. Gray, Edinburgh; Robert MacDougald, do.; Alexander Paton, Glasgow; James Wallis, Nottingham.
10. Resolved, That the thanks of the churches in Great Britain and Ireland he presented to the brethren in America for the selfdenial, magnanimity, and generosity, they have manifested in connexion with the mission of brother Campbell and brother Henshall.