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and the publication of a Local Preachers' Magazine, something could not be done to establish a school for Local Preachers' sons ?
On July 17th, No. 11 approves of the object, and on July 23rd, No. 12 having heard some mutterings that these Local Preachers intended to do something to injure Methodism in their projected gathering, repudiates all idea of anything of that kind, and contemplates nothing but good to flow from such a benevolent idea. Correspondents to the paper begun to speculate on the number likely to be present at the coming general meeting. One says 1,000 or 1,500, another puts the number down at 3,000.
The London Circuits had already begun to move. A meeting was called for July 18th, to be held at Hart's Temperance Hotel, Aldersgate Street. The meeting was held, and the project moved on a stage. A preliminary meeting was fixed to be beld at Birmingham, and representatives were sent from London and many other places.
The Birmingham meeting was held July 24th, 1849, when twenty-four brethren assembled from different parts of the kingdom, and unanimously passed the following resolutions:-
I. That this meeting form itself into a committee, with power to add to its number, for the purpose of considering the best means of providing relief for distressed Local Preachers in the Wesleyan Methodist Connexion.
II. That this meeting recommends that a society be now formed, to be called The General Wesleyan Methodist Local Preachers' Mutual-Aid Association.
III. That the object contemplated by this meeting shall be to afford assistance to Local Preachers in times of sickness, distress, and old age.
IV. That the entrance fee into this Society be 10s.
VI. That all persons contributing one guinea per annum, become honorary members.
VII. That this meeting is strongly of opinion that the rules of the society be formed upon principles, giving the claimants upon the fund & right to relief, and recommends this resolution to the serious consideration of a future meeting.
VIII. That the officers of the Association shall consist of President, Vice-President, Treasurer, Secretaries, and Committee. Number 9 and 10 appointed corresponding and district secretaries.
IX. That an aggregate meeting be held in London on the 3rd and 4th October next, and that each circuit be requested to send a representative, in addition to those who may voluntarily attend.
The basis of the Association was evidently laid at this meeting of July 24th, 1849, at Birmingham. What was done in the following October in London, was but a widening of the base and the filling up of the scheme.
Letters continued to appear in the paper. No. 20 says that this object had been upon his mind for sixteen years; but there was no organ at that time through which they could make known their thonghts.
On September 10th, in notices from correspondents, we get this little piece of information in order to show the need there was for the Association :-“An old local preacher who was reduced to the necessity of taking up his abode in the workhouse, yet went out on the Sabbath to take his appointments on the circuit plan as a preacher.”
An advertisement of the great meeting to be held in Freemasons' Hall, October 3rd and 4th, appeared in the papers. Vigorous efforts were made to obtain accommodation for the brethren, and in every direction they were most cordially met. As far as information reached us, we know not which were the most pleased, the hosts with their guests, or the guests with their hosts. Some time afterwards, when we inquired of a lady friend if she could entertain a delegate for another meeting, she answered, “ No;" but added, “ If it were Mr. H. (the Local Preacher delegate on this occasion) I would give up my own bed to entertain him.”
(To be continued.)
INAUGURAL ADDRESS TO THE WESLEYAN METHODIST IMPROVEMENT ASSOCIATION OF THE ST. HELEN'S
AND PRESCOT CIRCUIT.
BY MR. WM. S. HOPCRAFT, OF RAINHILL. Next to the blessing of God, the first thing necessary to make this Association successful is perfect confidence in each other's goodwill, a genuine desire to help each other. Brotherly love is something we often preach about. We believe it to be the cement which binds together the living stones in the Temple of God, and to be so essential that jars and discord can never be effectually barred out without it; and while no one has any right to look for perfection in any one of us, while we have such human nature as most Christian men, each one has a right to expect the rest of the brethren to cherish and always to exhibit the spirit and disposition of the Gospel we preach.
Our mental habits necessarily incline us to be critical. Accustomed as we are to scan closely our own productions, we naturally bring to the work and productions of others the same habit of scrutiny. Perhaps most of us have found this habit of criticism so fixed that it often prevents our enjoying the sermons we hear; and while the general audience is carried away by a torrent of earnest pleading, the preacher finds himself stranded upon some theological flaw, which, like a mountain-boulder, has rolled down into the stream. And this spirit of criticism, which we hope will find voice in our future meetings, we have each for himself so to
control and guide that it shall not break forth in impatient words or irony. Let us take care that it work not itself into unwarrantable activity, and cause brotherly love to become torpid and benumbed, killing our interest in each other. Of all men in the Church, the preachers of the Gospel should be most loving in their intercourse, and most tender of each other's feelings. How much we have in common in many points of trial! We alone can understand each other's feelings. A single touch of each other's experience may often lift off a great burden : and we hope that, with sincere desire to help each other, we shall lift great weights of difficulty from the shoulders of each other. We have, perhaps, pictured the joy with which the apostles greeted each other as they met from time to time on their long and distant tours, recounted their trials and triumphs, joined in a song of praise, gave each other advice, and then, girding up their loins, separated for other fields and other toils, and perhaps for martyrdom. How much they understood the value of brotherly love and mutual sympathy, we can easily comprehend.
Our aim in this Association is to improve our preaching. In my humble opinion, there can be no excuse for weak and poor preaching, provided a man has ordinary intelligence and speaking power: and if he has not, there can be no excuse for his folly in attempting the work. We have the best of themes, favourably disposed audiences, and the subject is momentous, inexhaustible, infinite in variety, and of universal concern. “The old, old story,” ever new, and when simply and fittingly presented always interesting to an audience; we have not to conciliate souls who are receptive and throb with sympathy. We have regular drill in the work; we have weeks in which to prepare our sermons; we are lifted on the shoulders of many generations, and have the benefit of men's past experience embodied in books; we have eminent examples among the living, and in the records of the illustrous dead of the last eighteen centuries. Surely no field of labour should be more encouraging and productive. We have great opportunity and power in our hands, we want to know how to bring forth the power and use it effectively.
Now, let us understand that this Association is not intended to provide us with pulpit furniture : it is only to show us how we may make it. It is not intended to supply us with sermons ; only to show us how we may frame them. We must get the material for ourselves, by hard study; and then get help how to put our study to account. Our own brain must give birth to thought, and we hope to help each other to throw that thought into form ; to mould it, and put it in a presentable condition. And let us not forget that, if we are to draw any real benefit from our union, we must supplement the work done here by hard work at home. We hope to learn how to put thought in order for the attack and defeat of the devil ; but it will be useless to learn how, if we have not the wherewithal to do it: and it will be just so much waste time to our account if, after spending whole evenings here, we do not train our minds to settle down
to thought, to obey our will, and pursue thought till we have mastered what we want and accomplished our purpose.
I dare say the early experience of each of us in preaching was much alike. We thought it very easy to make a sermon; and perhaps the first few sermons were made with little trouble: perhaps, too, they were worth about as much as they cost. But as our conceptions of what a sermon should be, expanded, and we began to see a sermon to be really a work of art, with its properly placed figures, its 'light and shade, with one great thought pervading the whole, we began to feel it hard work to make a sermon that should answer our thought of what it should be. But that is so in the case of anything valuable. We find outside that to win valuable things means hard work; and we are willing to give it if we may win them. And I am sure we shall not be less willing to work hard if we may win souls for Christ, and fashion characters for heaven.
I have found that truth, to be felt and understood, must not be covered up in words; that to hit hard, our sentences must be close and compact; that to make the truth clear to others, we must first have it very clear before our own minds. And to do all this is not easy work for any
not for men who are set apart for it, and have comparatively little else to do: but for us, who have to win our bread in worldly employment, it means downright hard work: it means, study, training, and devotion. Is the work worth it? If it is, let us give it in no grudging manner, but with all our hearts.
In reference to the future of the Association, I hope that while every one will take part in the proceedings, and freely speak his mind on the various subjects brought up for consideration, we shall not degenerate into a debating club, and speechify for the sake of airing oratorical powers. I hope we shall be able to form a Book Club, that by a small contribution from each member, we may purchase desirable books to be handed round till read, and then sold to the highest bidder. We shall thus obtain a variety of brain-food, otherwise inaccessible to most of us, because of the expense. I would also recommend that old sermon-outlines (which having done full duty may be supposed to be superannuated) be submitted for criticism. Help would thus be given to the less experienced brethren, and to those of us who find this part of the work specially difficult. I suggest old sermon-outlines, because there would, in the use of these, be no fear of discouraging a man on some subject to which he had perhaps devoted hours of patient thought; and upon which, perhaps, he would like to preach; by taking his structure to pieces, and showing him how faulty it is. I am sure we shall all see the need of giving to this branch of the work (outlines) all due attention, seeing that the power of our sermons to rouse to thought and fix Divine truth in men's memories depends so much upon thought following thought in regular order and in due proportion.
A minister once told me that the highest compliment he ever received was from an old woman, who said,
I can always remember your
sermons. They are just like winding cotton off a bobbin ;" and it seems to me that this order and proportion is really the backbone of preaching power; and that according as we fail or excel in it, our words will be like feathers flying, or well directed shot, which may be heated at the throne of God.
Let us ever remember that our work is not to please or entertain the people, but to make truth stick in their hearts and consciences. And in these days of School-Boards and Mutual-Improvement Societies, thought, with order, good logic, and method, are necessary to command the respect of our hearers : and failing to command their respect, we shall not fail to do them much good.
[We have accepted this MS. for our Magazine; but as a considerable portion of it was written with pencil instead of ink, we must warn our brethren against imposing, in this manner, so serious a tax upon our sight and time. Papers written in pencil we must reject. Time and sight are too precious to be wasted.-EDITORS.)
THE LORD MAYOR-MCARTHUR.
It is with peculiar satisfaction that we live in a day when a zealous Methodist is elevated to the position of Chief Magistrate of the largest and most influential city in the world, and that the gentleman so honoured is one of the honorary members of the Local Preachers' Association. We remember a time when the Methodists were "a sect everywhere spoken against," and when no calumny was too vile to be raised against them, and to be welcomed and circulated. At that time it was as little likely that a member of the reviled and despised sect would become Mayor of England's metropolis, as to take possession of her throne and sway her sceptre. “The times of this ignorance and prejudice have passed away; and now only a scurrilous writer in an ill-natured periodical or two will vent his spleen against a man of unimpeachable rectitude and indomitable energy and public spirit, because of his fixed religious principles, when placed in a position of high dignity and more than ordinary responsibility.
Some of our readers are aware that the present Lord Mayor is a son of an Irish Wesleyan Minister. His father, the Rev. JOHN MCARTHUR, entered the itinerant service of Methodism in 1792, and his name stood upon the Minutes of Conference until 1840, in which year it disappeared. He had finished his course and passed to his reward. The WESLEYAN MAGAZINE of 1840, page 780, contains the following obituary notice :“ In his youth he became a member of the Wesleyan Society, and was soon, through faith in the Lord Jesus Christ, blessed with the knowledge of salvation by the remission of sins, and enabled to rejoice in hope of eternal life. Shortly after his conversion he began to recommend to