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the money he might hold, empowered the Committee to draw up a code of rules to be submitted to the next annual meeting, gave the annual meeting from time to time power to alter or abrogate existing rules. These regulations passed without much discussion.
The Officers of the Association were to be a President, Treasurer, and Hon. Secretary. Now the question came up, Who should be the President? The brother who had been the first mover in calling the Association into existence was proposed as the first President; but he, with becoming modesty, firmly and decidedly declined to occupy that important post. The brother who had occupied the chair over the meeting was then proposed. There was only one brother who openly demurred to this appointment; and although there was not one in that meeting with a more honest purpose and a truer heart than this brother, yet, somehow or other, he was generally a planet in opposition, and certainly on this occasion his reasons were very poor. However, the proposition was put, and according to the report now before me, “ The meeting was called upon to signify their approval by standing up ; the whole audience rose simultaneously, and the brother was elected President amid loud and longcontinued cheering.” There was one brother, at any rate, besides the brother above, who did not stand up, or join in the “ loud and long-continued cheering.” The office of Treasurer was conferred on Brother Wild, who, from the first, brought honour to the office; and who proved to the day of his death one of the most bountiful if not the greatest of the benefactors the Association has had. The post of Hon. Secretary was assigned to a brother well qualified to fill it. A Committee of thirty was elected. President, Treasurer, and Secretary are now gone, but two of this original thirty have still their names on the Committee, and one is as zealous and devoted as ever.
Three other resolutions were passed, but it is not necessary to notice them. The first aggregate meeting was brought to a close by singing the doxology. Most of the brethren went after tea to City Road Chapel, where they celebrated the Lord's Supper together. This service was a very fitting close to the business meeting just held. And it speaks much for the religious life of the brethren, that this solemn service has been observed from year to year to the present time.
The conductors of this Magazine might do much worse than reprint Dr. Melson's sermon, preached before the brethren at Great Queen Street Chapel, on Wednesday, October 3rd, 1849. It appeared with the report of the proceedings; and it is indeed a masterly exposition of the text, John xvi. 8-11, on the promise and work of the Holy Spirit.
CHAPTER IV.-THE BIRMINGHAM MEETING. 1850. The Association having been started, various were the opinions as to its probable success. Some prophets of evil predicted its speedy overthrow, and said “it could not stand." However, it did stand, and is
one of the
standing at the present day, a monument of what can be done if men in a right spirit and on right principles help one another.
The columns of the paper which had countenanced the Association from the first, were still open ; and letters in its favour appeared from time to time. One on October 22nd, from Huil, suggested that the Association should be open to all the sections of Methodism; and the writer calculates that 10,000 might be got to join its membership.
Some writers doubted the right of Local Preachers to meet together and constitute a society which had not received the formal sanction of Conference. This brought from Bury a vindication of the right to meet under the sanction and protection of the laws of our country; and that no authority, political or ecclesiastical, could override that right. To give it up would be to surrender our privileges as Englishmen.
While there were doubters in Methodism as to whereunto this thing would grow, a communication appeared on October 29th, fro oldest travelling preachers in the Connexion, highly approving of the Association. Letters of approval continued to appear. Public meetings on its behalf were held in different parts of the country. At one which was held in London, a gentleman was present who qualified as a life member by subscribing £10. At another, held also in London, the venerable Rev. R. Reece sent 10s. as an expression of his goodwill to the Association.
On September 23rd, 1850, it was announced in the paper that the Second Aggregate Meeting would be held at Birmingham. The friends there were all alive to the honour, as well as the labour, of entertaining the delegates. And right royally were they entertained by the Midland metropolis ! About 130 brethren assembled on October 2nd, 3rd, and 4th, 1850. Isaac English, of Deptford, was elected President.
The First Year's Report was given in at this meeting. Among other things it states : “ To save expense the Committee from month to month had met at each other's houses." This practice has continued to the present day; and although the Association has now offices in which the Committee could meet, and several attempts have been made to restrict the Committee to them, they have all failed. The brethren declare that going to take tea at each other's houses keeps up the social character of the gathering, which would be entirely lost if the Committee Meeting was confined to the office.
The Report states that the Committee's attention had been taken up in preparing rules on the basis laid down at the London meeting ; that these rules had been prepared, and proofs sent to the various branches ; and that it would be the business of this meeting to confirm, or otherwise, the rules which had been prepared.
The rules were gone through seriatim, but as they had been well considered in Committee, the alterations were not of much importance. The Committee was to be extended to fifty members. It was also resolved
that there should be no relief except where a branch was formed. A singular fact came out on this point. There was no branch formed at Manchester, there being in that large place only one brother who had joined the Association. What does Manchester of the present day think
. of that? Since that time the largest legacy to the Association has been from a Manchester man.
The report intimates the necessity of publishing & Magazine. This subject took shape in the general meeting, and it was resolved to publish a Magazine without drawing on the funds of the Association. Subscriptions were to be sought, and in the meantime a loan of £200 was to be obtained so as to form a capital to work it with. An editor was then and there appointed, and the report says : “ He was elected to the office by acclamation.” The report further says: “ That his portrait be engraved to grace the new Magazine.” Some of us smiled when we read this twenty-eight years ago. But the portrait of the first editor has not yet appeared to grace the Magazine !
A public meeting was held. Sir John Radcliffe took the ch air, becoming an honorary member, which position he occupied till bis death. Dr. Melson preached before the brethren a sermon occupying two hours and a half. It was to be published; but whether it appeared or not we have not heard. Dr. Dixon also preached to them, and the Lord's Supper was celebrated. The meeting at Birmingbam closed in the right way by the brethren “remembering their dying Lord.”
PRESIDENT OF THE AssociaTION, 1850. Isaac English, having by a course of honest industry realised a competency, in 1845 retired from business, resolved for the remainder of his life to spend his time and use his talents for the benefit of his fellow-men.
Being himself a Local Preacher, he very properly felt a deep interest in that order of men. In 1849, when the first steps were taken which issued in the establishment of “ The Local Preachers' Mutual-Aid Association,” he threw himself heart and soul into that movement.
It was, I think, at the first meeting which was called in London, as already narrated, that I first became acquainted with our friend. His experience, sound common sense, indomitable zeal, and overflowing benevolence, brought him to the front at the first.
All through the preliminary stages he was present to advise and assist. His overflowing benevolence sometimes led bim to step, as some of us thought, beyond the bounds of prudence. When the subject of annuities came up I suggested 48. a week. He turned sharply round to me, and said, “What ! make paupers of your brethren." Subsequent discussion showed to our ardent friend that that amount was not so contemptible a sum as he at first regarded it.
At that first meeting, at Hart's Temperance Hotel, Brother Isaac was elected as one of the London deputation to meet a larger representative meeting to be held in Birmingham previous to the great gathering in London the next October; and we remember well the eulogium passed on him for the services he then rendered and the spirit in which they were performed.
Passing over the great London meeting, we follow our friend the next year to Birmingham, to the second aggregate meeting, where by common consent he was elected President. The duties of this office he fulfilled to the entire satisfaction of his brethren.
Not only during his year of office was Brother Isaac travelling in all directions, but up to the time of his death. From the east to the distant west, from the north to the south, he might be found wherever he could form a branch or stimulate his brethren, regardless of toil and expense, for he paid his own expenses. We are happy to know that this spirit of self-sacrifice on the part of our Presidents has not died out, but animates the present one of 1880 as fully as it did the former one of 1850.
The Magazine from the first has certainly been a useful arm of the service, yet has had connected with it a great deal of trouble, and more expense. Isaac had come up to London to attend a committee meeting, and he and I had been deputed to see the editor and ascertain if something could not be done to promote the circulation and lessen the expense. While in the office he was seized with a violent attack of illness; we hastened to a coffee-house to get something warm, which gave a partial relief, but he hastened home, and in a week he was called up higher: his life's work was done, and his last efforts were put forth on behalf of
THAT ASSOCIATION which he had served from the first with unabated zeal and fervour.
Isaac English, the second President of the Association, was the first to lay aside bis earthly honours for the heavenly. He was a fine specimen of what a Local Preacher should be. No nonsense about him. All was sincere and honest. His pulpit services were deservedly acceptable, and his sermons were the result of careful thought. A specimen will be found in our first volume, page 449, preached before the members of the Local Preachers' Association, at Sheffield, on Monday morning, October 6th, 1851. Take him altogether, he was a fine fellow. Many of the thirty who have followed him in the presidency may have equalled him, but few have excelled him as a man, a Christian, a preacher, and a temperance advocate. He was born August 31st, 1794, and died November 23rd, 1855, aged sixty-one years, having been a Local Preacher upwards of thirty years. A lengthened memoir of him may be seen in the volume of “ The Local Preachers' Magazine,” 1856.
GOOD WOMEN OF SCRIPTURE MISUNDERSTOOD AND
No. II.- THE WOMAN OF SAMARIA.
Saint John, in the fourth chapter of his Gospel, tells us about this woman; and all that he relates is in her favour. Our Lord, in His conversation with her, utters no word of reproof—does not even bid her go and sin no more. Yet most commentators and preachers appear to take delight in casting reflections upon her moral character, and sneering at her religion.
There are, however, honourable exceptions. Bishop Pearce speaks up for her, like a man in whom that spirit of charity dwells which “ thinketh no evil ;” and Dr. Adam Clarke approves his testimony. Our Lord's words in verse 18 should be translated, says the Bishop, thus : “ There is no husband whom thou now hast;" or, less literally, 66 Thou hast no husband now," the meaning being, Thou art contracted to another, but not yet brought home; therefore, he is not yet thy husband. With this explanation, all the theories of the unjust judges who condemn this good woman melt into air; and all that we can gather from this fourth chapter of John shows her to have been a thoughtful and devout woman, but one who had met with a sad lot in social life, and who had been the victim of those hard-hearted followers of Moses who held that it was right for a man to put away his wife for any cause.
The social customs of that age and race were very different from ours. Parents betrothed their children to one another in infancy. A brother dying without issue, his brother had to take the widow to wife, to raise up seed to his brother; while the law of divorce, permitted by Moses for the hardness of his people's hearts, pressed hardly on the wife, and tended to make the husband a social tyrant.
Josephus, the Jewish historian, writes of himself: “ About this time I put away my wife, who had borne me three children, not being pleased with her manners." Yet he who could write with such coolness and indifference passed for a just man, and was held in high esteem.
In that age, and in the province of Samaria—the middle of the Holy Land- this woman lived; and it needs no great stretch of imagination to sketch out her probable history.
Let us think of a baby girl born into a family which claimed descent, unbroken, from Jacob, Isaac, and Abraham. This family worships, on Mount Gerizim, the God of their fathers; and its members are looking for the Messiah shortly—a prophet like unto Moses. The father has a friend and neighbour whom he loves, and who has several sons; and the fathers
agree to betrothe the pretty little girl, as soon as she can walk, to the eldest of the sons of the friend. The betrothment was solemnly made ; but before a year was out the boy-husband died. Hereupon the