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To enter systematically, and at length, into any discussion on the im. portance of the Ministry to the Poor, would, I feel convinced, be an unnecessary expenditure of your time and patience. The necessity of such a ministration, I may rest on an appeal to your own knowledge of the moral degradation—the depravity and misery, which abound among the poor. And how little do you know of the actual reality! You come in contact with them only occasionally, and even then you behold them when under the world's observation and the world's restraint. But I take your own knowledge on the subject, imperfect, partial as it is, and in the nature of things, must be ; and I ask you, as beings possessed of sympathy-as fellow-brethren-above all, as Christians--is not some effort loudly called for, to redeem the poor from their religious indifference—their depravity and misery? Do you require other arguments in favour of the claims of the poor upon your compassion and benevolent exertions? I shall take it for granted that you do not. I shall take it for granted that those who now hear me have not only seen, but perused the first number of the Christian Teacher--and may none of us, though I wish us all a long and happy life, live to see its last number! You have an article there on the claims of the poor, which exhausts the subject,—the statements and spirit of which, I trust, have become a part of your convictions, and inseparable from your feelings. The only question, then, to which I feel it necessary to direct your attention, is—Is the ministry to the poor, as a means of social reveneration, worthy of your countenance and support? I plead for it, as having every claim on a Christian community, which the regular, stated ministry is possessed of. It has claims peculiar to itself. It does a work which the sectarian ministry cannot perform. The ministry to the
poor suits itself to the wants and conditions of the poor. It takes the common grounds of our common Christianity, and goes forth in the power and spirit of Christ, to infuse religion into all minds of all seets among the lower classes of society. It does not wait to be sought by the poor; it seeks them, and brings the knowledge of God and Jesus and duty and happiness to their doors and into their homes. The stated ministry is a city set upon a hill, whose influences cannot sufficiently descend and effectively leaven the lowly mass of the population. The ministry to the poor has its appropriate sphere among the poor, and brings its hallowing influences into the lowliest cot of the lowliest vale. It does another good. It shows the poor that they are not neglected by the rich. It raises thein in their own esteem; and well regulated self-respect, if not a virtue, is the handmaid of virtue, The minister to the poor is the mediator-a bond of union and love between the rich and the poor. He draws down the sympathies of the high towards their lowly and less-favoured brethren. He brings up the respect and affection of the poor towards the exalted and wealthy; and the result is, an increase of brotherly love-of social happiness. He is the
poor man's counsellor both for time and eternity. He supplies the needy from the superabundance of the rich. He extends the sphere and influence of education. He is the medium through which a more effective operation is given to other means of social improvement. With respect to the zealous minister to the poor in this town, Mr. Ashworth, it is unnecessary for me to say one word. You know his excellencies; you know his zeal; you know, at least, a portion of the
good he has accomplished. I would rather direct your attention to your own duties respecting him. It is your part to aid his efforts by your liberality, and to render them as effective as possible, by enabling him to minister to the bodily wants of the poor, while he endeavours to save their souls. May he not only be encouraged by your liberality, but by the gratitude of those who enjoy the benefits of his labours of love. May he turn many to righteousness; and while he is a blessing to others, may he himself be blessed.
“ The Village Missionary Society. May its preachers go forth in the spirit and power of Christian wisdom and Christian love, considering their great controversy to be with the cuses of depravity and wretchedness, and then only reckoning that they have made converts when they have turned men from ignorance and sin to the hearty service of God and Christ,"
The Rev. W. SMITH, of Stockport, in speaking to the above, remarked, that what in former ages was but a matter of theoretic speculation, had now been proclaimed as a truth from heaven, that all men are equal_equal in rights, equal in the eye of God, equal in brotherhood to Jesus, equal in responsibility, and therefore equally requiring and equally entitled to that knowledge which secures faithfulness on earth and happiness in heaven. This truth is no longer to be fettered by authority and crushed by persecution. It has been uttered in the hearing of all. It has been consecrated to immortality by the ruin of the oppressor and the triumph of the oppressed. A consciousness of power and a conviction of right are dangerous weapons to be placed in the hands of those who have ever beheld power abused and right insulted. Can it, therefore, be wondered at, that partial evil should be the result of the late triumphs of truth and knowledge? It should be a subject of profound thankfulness that so little of evil has yet been perpetrated; it should be a matter of serious and interesting consideration how future injury may be prevented. It is not by attempting to arrest the tide of knowledge, which sweeps forward in its might; it is not by attempts, such as are now making in a certain quarter, to grasp again power which has for ever departed, and to paralyze into impotency, strength, to which each day must add vigour. It is not by methods such as these that evil may be averted, and good educed, in the great conflict of opinion that now prevails; but it is by directing the current of knowledge and of truth into those channels, which, although minute and unobserved, are the true sources of general fertility. It is by giving a right direction to that power which can no longer be repressed. It is by meeting wants, long unsatisfied, with sympathy and relief. It is by giving holy aspirations to hearts that will no longer slumber in indolence. It is hy teaching the long-trampled upon victim of oppression, that the sweetest revenge is forgiveness. "It is by proclaiming those truths and doctrines which inculcate justice, charity, and peace, which rejoice in the emancipation of the oppressed, and smile with benignity upon the growth of the intellect, but which combine with the strength and maturity of the perfect man, the simplicity and innocence of the guileless child. By such means as these our country may yet be saved from anarchy, and peace and happiness secured. Instruments by which such good may be effected, however humble their pretensions, cannot be undeserving of regard. The Village Missionary Society is calculated to do the work thus needful and thus pressing. It addresses
itself to a class already influential in the community, and which must, ere long, assume a still more important position. It speaks to the ignorant in the language of instruction, to the guilty in words of rebuke and exhortation. It carries light and truth into places where darkness and error would else assert their power. It preaches of charity, and love, and holiness, where passion and prejudice would else engender envy, uncharitableness, and vice. Let the conductors of this and similar institutions follow the admonition which the sentiment embodies, and, however humble may be their sphere, and however silent their progress, they will be accomplishing a work deserving the sympathy of all who love their fellow men, amply rewarding them on earth, and preparing new glories for their recompence in heaven.
“The Christian Ministry, may its spirit be that of power, and of love, and of a sound mind; may its labours be conducted in a devout dependence on the one God and Father of all, and with a glowing and steady love to man.”
The first thought which rose to my mind, said the Rev. W. Gaskell, on reading this sentiment was, that it would, alas ! have been as truly put, if it had been • The Christian Ministry—may it be the reverse of what it has hitherto generally been.' When we consider its past history, how unworthy has it been of the high name it has borne. Instead of a pureminded and disinterested body of men, looking with a single eye to the sublimest of all ends, the glory of God in the well-being of man, how often have they been seen only as the most selfish and worldly, banded together for no higher object than the promotion of their own sordid interests ! Instead of those who have been ready to encourage and foster the generous aspirations of nobler minds towards the heaven of truth, how often have they been seen only as those who have been most anxiously on the watch to repress and subdue them by the terrors of the dungeon and the tortures of the rack! Instead of those who have rejoiced to behold the beams of knowledge breaking with enfranchising power on the people, how often have they been seen only as those who have been the means of enchaining them in the most abject and degrading bondage, and treated them infinitely worse than he of Gaza was treated by the Philistines, in first robbing them of a more precious sight, and then making spoil of a more cruel blindness! Instead, in a word, of ministers of Christ, how often have they been seen only as ministers of persecution and oppression; instead of serving the cause of Jesus, only raising up obstacles in the path of its triumph! Thank God! the Christian Ministry is not what it has been; but still how far is it, generally speaking, from answering to the holy name which it bears; how far from securing the great ends to which it should be devoted ! In proof of this, we have only to turn to a sister country—to unhappy Ireland. See there the tithe-priest going at the head of an armed band to the homes of those who neither have received nor are in a condition to receive the smallest benefit from him, to snatch away a large portion from that scanty pittance which they have hardly gained by the sweat of their brow, and which is barely sufficient to keep themselves and their children from famine, and ready, on the least obstruction, to seize it with violence and bloodshed. Oh! looks he like a worker together with the benevolent Jesus? Looks he like one, of whom the Master
· Well done! good and faithful servant!' I might come nearer home, but I forbear. I wish not to speak despondingly. I know
that the number of those who are making their lives a ministry of good to their fellow-men, is perpetually on the increase. The bow of promise is in the heavens, and amidst the restless clouds may be caught bright glimpses of that sun which is eventually to triumph over all the storm and darkness of the moral world. We are, however, living in a very peculiar state of things. Men are beginning to feel that they have all equal capabilities, and an equal right to use them; to feel that long enough have they ignominiously surrendered up into the hands of others their noblest privileges ; long enough impiously made over into foreign keeping those souls which God gave them to care for themselves. They are ceasing to regard the mere sanctity of office-to bow down to the dictation of a fellow mortal in the garb of a priest. A voice is calling to them, and they are hearkening to it. . These men are no nearer heaven than you.
Judge for your ownselves what is right.' If a ministry is to have any hold on the minds of men, it must adapt itself to this state of things. It must not lag behind the age. Its spirit must be that of a sound mind. It must be one which shall regard not so much critical niceties as general principles—which shall not think to satisfy the deep cravings of the human heart with the dry bones of theology—which shall not present religion wrapped up in cold technicalities, misty abstractions, or heartless creeds, but which shall bring it home to the bosoms of men as a spirit of blessed power—which shall show its benignant bearing on all the varying currents of thought and action around them—which shall display it, not with that repulsive aspect wbich has so commonly been given it, not as a thing of mystery and gloom, but as it came from the mercy of God, and shone in the face of Jesus Christ, a light to lighten the world—a ministry which shall present itself, not in that attitude of angry defiance which it has too generally assumed—not standing forth to anathematize and condemn for every difference of opinion—but one which shall look with a spirit of love on all human kind--one which shall have no other aim than to blessmone which shall be ready to give every aid in urging on the growing powers of the human race in all knowledge, secure that the more men are enabled to understand its real nature and design, the more will Christianity be prized-one to which truth, as the friend of man, shall be welcome, come from whatever quarter it may, or however counter it may run to their own prejudices or interests—one amongst whose members the only strife shall be, which shall be first in the holy warfare with ignorance and sin, and bring the greatest number of minds and hearts captive to the standard of their glorious leader. This is the ministry which must now be a ministry of power.
“ Our absent friend, the Rev. J. J. Tayler-May he bring back from his foreign esidence an increased store of health and strength, as well as of knowledge; and may ho long be spared to illustrate and exemplify the union of 'Thcology, Science, and Literature.' "
Mr. Robert NICHOLSON, in responding to this sentiment, and expressing his acknowledgments on the part of the Mosley-street Congregation, to the meeting generally, and to those Ministers who had so readily offered their assistance to supply Mr. Tayler's pulpit during his absence abroad,-expressed his conviction that one of the causes of the very hearty co-operation in every good work which existed in this town between the three congregations, was the very warm and hearty feeling
which existed between their ministers. In reference to the wish expressed in the latter part of the sentiment, the speaker said, The public at large have had an opportunity lately of asccertaining how correct the sentiment is, for they have read that admirable paper which Mr. Tayler has contributed to the first number of our new periodical—the Christian Teacher. In that paper Mr. Tayler has pointed out, with great beauty and great power, the close and important connection which exists between theology and the various other branches of human knowledge, successively tracing its relation to literature, science, the arts, political economy, and general politics. He regards theology as the centre towards which all speculations must ultimately converge-the regent science to which all the rest are but servants and tributaries. But if theology, with justice, holds this high station relatively to the other branches of human knowledge, upon whom devolves the inappreciably important task of tracing through its various ramifications, and pointing out to the attention of the busy world at large, this interesting connection? Of necessity, upon the ministers of religion. Yet what are the opportunities afforded in this country for pursuing with advantage and economy the higher branches of science and literature-opportunities without which it is not to be expected that the Christian ministry, as a body, can be possessed of 'that sound and extensive knowledge which can alone render them capable of performing some of the most important duties of the high office which they hold. Of the inadequacy of the provision made for the higher departments of education in this country, no slight proof is afforded by the fact that Mr. Tayler is at this time engaged in studies connected with his profession in the university of Göttingen, which cannot be pursued with any thing like equal advantage in Great Britain. In that university, which Mr. Tayler characterises as essentially a working university,' such facilities are afforded under the sanction of government, by the appointment of a large number of professors of first-rate talent, and by the establishment of a well-selected library, consisting of more than 300,000 volumes, as enable no less than seven to eight hundred students to pursue their studies with every advantage, and also with extraordinary economy. In that city, belonging too to the Hapoverian government, education receives from the government all the aid and patronage which it can bestow. What a contrast to this country! We have in England alone a population of nearly fifteen millions, and until lately, but two universities, admission to the full privileges of which is granted to one sect alone. The evidence, however, of the necessity that the legislature should pay attention to the subject, is so strong, that I trust the efforts of all the enlightened and liberal portion of the community will not cease until the means of obtaining education adapted to their pursuits and prospects, is possessed by every class of society in this country.
“ The Infant School and Sunday School connected with the Greengate CongregationMay their teachers, steadily keeping in view the moral as well as the intellectual training of their pupils, bave the encouragement of feeling that they are engaged in an office highly honourable to themselves and beneficial to society."
The Rev. C. W. Robeerds, in speaking to this sentiment, said that whatever doubt there might be respecting the advance of a more liberal spirit of religious inquiry, or as to the diffusion of more charitable feel