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Pottenger's Truth or Falsehood of
Christianity ...................... 217
The Band of Hope Review.......... 217
A Manual of the Baptist Denomina
White's Sacred History ...... .... 243
of James I. and Charles I. ........ 272
The Provincial Letters of Blaise Pascal 272
Craps's Sustentation of Christian Min-
isters ............................ 272
Gutta Percha, its Discovery, History,
to a Romanist .................... 272
Training of the Christian Church .. 302
Hinton's Test of Experieuce ........ 303
.. 217 | Webb's The Age and the Ministry .. 303
The Great Blessing-what is it?. 78 The Dying Child ................ 272
Who is our best Friend!.
Don't Waste your Time......... 324
217 The Closing Year .................. 325
The Rev. Thos. Miller, of Oakham ..
Mrs. Mason, of Wells .....
Miss M. N. Robinson, of Rochdale .. 220
Mr. Joseph Roo, of Horsforih ...... 247
Mrs. Coleman, Ringstead, Northamp.
The one didicole..urch Mem
Trust in God .....
Oar Duty in the Present Tirnes......
The Book of Wonders ..........
The Ejected Minister ...........
“Built upon the foundation of the Apostles and Prophets, Jesus Christ
himself being the chief corner-stone."-Eph. ii. 20.
NEW YEAR'S ADDRESS TO OUR CHURCHES.
BY THE EDITORS. The Editors of “THE CHURCH” hope it will not be deemed assuming, if, in a periodical devoted to the furtherance of the churches in the know.. ledge and love of Christ Jesus, they address to them, at the commencement of the new year, a few words of a devotional and practical character. Probably addresses and sermons of this kind will be generally delivered to you by the pastors with whom the Great Shepherd has blessed you. We have nothing novel to advance; but we desire, as always, to co-operate with them in using this annual occasion as a means of spiritual improvement. It aids, moreover, the feeling of fellowship among us, and that, too, in the best way, and is also somewhat encouraging and pleasing, to know that our brethren have been everywhere invited to reflect and act upon truths of which we all feel the importance; and a penny magazine is almost the only medium through which the great body of our members can be addressed.
Permit us, with these views, brethren, to mention, first, the natural. ness and usefulness of churches, as well as individuals, commencing the year with honest, unsparing, self-examination and prayer. Our Heavenly Father assuredly intended the times and the seasons not only for our temporal convenience and good, but at least equally for our spiritual advan. tage,-to suggest the enquiry, how far our growth in grace has been correspondent with the progress of Time. All will agree in this; but is it too much to suggest, that the commencement of the year should, both by members and ministers, be specially devoted to prayerful consideration of the state of the churches, in every point of view, and to whatever action such examination may lead to.
The total numerical returns from the churches exhibit, indeed, a slight improvement upon the past, yet few of our churches, we apprehend, can review the year gone bye, and the state in which they begin another, without much cause for humiliation. We sympathise not for a moment with certain individuals, too common amongst us, who are for ever-complaining and finding fault, and thereby discouraging and hindering the well-disposed, while they themselves pray little for a blessing on church or people, and, probably, do least of all to improve things. Still all solid im. provement must begin in knowing and feeling our need of it. The more we really humble ourselves before God, the more we shall be exalted in due time. Let us, then, in a lowly spirit examine our church spirit, conduct, and exertions. Ministers vould often do well to confer with some VOL. 1.
of their most devout, prudent, and earnest members as to points of possi. bly increased adaptation to usefulness. It is, we know, a delicate matter. Yet we could be no losers by obtaining honest and prudent suggestions, liable as we are to hear but applause on the one hand, or carping censure on the other. Deacons, Sunday-school superintendents and teachers, might, in like manner, confer with each other, in frankness and humility, as in the sight of their Lord, on their past mode of discharging their respective duties. All the members, too, whether engaged in any special office or not, could enquire how far their visible conduct before men had. aided or hindered the life and power of godliness in the church and con. gregation. In a word, let the church examine its combined action as a whole ; its influence upon its own members, and its influence on the world; and, while unfeignedly thankful for all the grace already enjoyed, let its great object be to learn its need of more.
Secondly, brethren, the new year should be a time for the renewing of love. If the sun ought not to go down upon our wrath, much less the year. “Let all your things be done in love” (1 Cor. xvi. 14), is the grand rule for christian churches. Dear brethren, has love been violated among you during the year ? Are there yet parties and factions among you? If not open variance, is there coolness, contempt, or intentional neglect? Are there two sections in your community,mone sure not to cooperate heartily in what is proposed by the other, or, perhaps, even thwarting it? Are there individuals who will take a wayward course, and disagree with or domineer over all? Are there minorities unwilling to yield with that cordial good will to the majority which alone can secure the effective and christian working of congregational church-government, or are there majori. ties triumphing in their numerical power instead of soothing and con. ciliating by every possible concession? Are these things, or things like them, amongst any of our churches ? Ob, brethren, let the new year be a time of universal reconciliation. Be assured hundreds of your fellow. christians who read these remarks will earnestly pray, “Lord, heal the breaches amongst brethren. Let thy love and thy Spirit fill all our churches !” Frankly own your personal and mutual failings. Give the right hand of fellowship to your brethren; but give the heart of fellow. ship with it. Stand not upon self-justification, but try to surpass each other in self-accusation rather and in sacrifices ; 80 will peace revisit your own bosom and that of the church, and the blessed Spirit of peace, joy, and love return to you both. · Thirdly, is there not a general want in our churches of lively piety,-of happy experience of divine things,-of fervency of spirit in serving the Lord,- of that relish for religious thoughts, conversation, and worship, which converts all our religious enjoyments from formalities into realities Are not our services and our societies too much mere routine ? Is not the world, in its numberless forms, the lord, not only of its necessary portion of our time, but of our hearts and our leisure too? Brethren, full well we know that all we have suggested is but too possible, and full well we know, too, that our most delightful life on earth must result from the opposite of all this. Ours is an intellectual, a sceptical, a formal, a money-worshipping, a heartless age; its influence deadens the life of our churches. How can the Lord Jesus be present with his Spirit and his soul-reviving graces, where He is not practically the chief good, the delight of his people? How can “He do many mighty works" amidst 80 much practical unbelief? Brethren, let us stir up one another to begin our new year by seeking a renewed presence of the Lord with our spirits and our assemblies. It is not willingly withheld by him. He still loves his little flock. He still loves to meet us apart as he did the women,
Peter, James, and the disciples going to Emmaus'; still would delight to be in the midst of us on the weekly return of his Resurrection day. May we not obtain this supreme joy and blessing? May we not help each other in obtaining it? Yes, we may. Oh, then, let the prayer be heard this year throughout all our churches, “Come, Lord Jesus, come quickly!” - Fourthly, we shall certainly do well to consider what well-advised plans can be adopted by us to extend the Redeemer's kingdom. We see Puseyism and Popery, of late, outstripping all the Dissenting churches in their efforts to diffuse their pernicious doctrines. Shall not their church. building zeal, their laborious exertions in domiciliary visiting of the poor, their sacrifices of time and money, and all to supplant the reign of Christ in men's hearts by the reign of the priesthood,-shall not this stir us up to far more self-denial and labour to advance the true knowledge and love of our blessed Lord ? Baptists have not done their part of late years in opening new places, and planting in them at once, when practicable, self-supporting churches. Our Independent brethren have surpassed us in this. Within our respective congregations, too, is each one doing what be can? Frequently we have to lament that, while the work of God in our churches, in our country, and in our Foreign Missions, is needing money, those to whom God has given more, content themselves with doing little beyond their poorer neighbours. On the other hand, some give only their money, when their time and exertions are equally wanted, and, perhaps, indispensable to the successful employment of their own contributions. A wealthy, generous, and unassuming contributor of large sums is a great comfort and blessing in our churches ; but he is a much greater one when he adds to his gifts personal efforts also. There is one means not only of getting good, but also of doing it, so clearly within the power of all that it deserves special notice. We mean that of as regular attendance on the services of our places of Worship, as health and family duties permit. We have often thought, on “ordinance Sundays," how is it that, with so many members as are now present, the congregation is not generally larger? Could not the effort be regularly made ? and why not? Think, beloved brethren, we entreat you, of the effect on the mind of the minister, when he sees his people all ready to join in the first acts of worship, and of the opposite effect of having to wait to begin the service because too many are yet absent. We have witnessed with pain, in some places, persons even standing outside till they heard the singing begin! Think, too, of the effect on the mind of one who casually enters the place of seeing it half empty, and the dif. ferent effect of seeing several pew doors opening at once to welcome him. May we here mention a truly admirable arrangement which we witnessed thís year in an Independent chapel ? The deacons took it in turn to stand or sit near the doors till the singing before the sermon, and not only guided strangers with christian urbanity to a suitable seat, but also had the ad. vantage of brief and friendly recognition of such members and friends as came before service commenced.
Fifthly, let us not forget our denominational mission to the church of Christ itself. While we ought not to wish to withdraw sheep from the folds of our brethren in a proselyting, self-aggrandizing spirit, yet we ought to wish their churches to become even as ours.” Our peculiar charge in the vineyard of Christ is to witness for the simplicity and purity of his institutions. The recovery of the ordinance of christian baptism from superstitious abuses is intimately connected, as a means, with the preservation of spiritual and evangelical christianity. Recent controversies, both in the Church of England and amongst Dissenters, have done