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In the evening, when we were all together, and our father heard about Lily's disappointment, he said, “You will have to get used to these little annoyances like the rest of us, my pet. Come, be brave ; have you not the blood in your veins of a noble ancestor who was deprived of his living, and suffered loss of all things for his faith ? "
My father was proud of his descent from this pious ejected minister, and so was I; and the thought of suffering for adherence to one's convictions often strengthened and comforted me in the minor trials which, after all, were sometimes as difficult to bear as greater ones. But I am bound to say that Lilian did not inherit the courageous spirit of our ancestor in the least. She was not of the stuff of which martyrs are made, and not only did she shrink from the selfdenial and mortifications of our life, but these things, I am sorry to say, did not make ber angry with the system which necessitated them so much as with the circumstances that involved her in what was so unpleasant.
Poor little Lily was not at all heroic, but we loved her, and felt for her in the troubles which were worse for her than for us. However, hers was not the nature to brood over any trouble, and long before Mrs. Fitzjames' picnic was celebrated, Lily was her own merry self again.
F. M. S.
THE UNION OF COUNTY UNIONS.
$ THE scheme for the union of our County Unions, which was sub
mitted at Bradford, and which is now laid before the Churches, is certainly not an immature one. It is the fruit of three conferences, at Birmingham, Leicester, and London; at the last of which the deliberations, we believe, occupied thirteen hours, and it has been accepted as the best of several proposals made. This fact alone would entitle it to our respectful consideration; but we are the more bound to examine it carefully because its main principles were so heartily adopted by the Congregational Union at Bradford. Those principles are contained in the first of the three resolutions passed by the Assembly, the other two, with which we need not concern ourselves, being merely instructions to the committee. The resolution is as follows:
“That the Assembly receives the report of the Finance Conference, and accept the principles of the scheme contained in it,
namely: (1) The consolidation of the funds of the County Associations, without interfering with the integrity of the Associations as at present constituted, or their independence of action for all purposes except the final determination of grants of money. (2) The connection of the administration of the consolidated funds with the Congregational Union; and (3) The administration by a Council representative of the Associations and Churches which enter into the scheme.”
It will not be necessary to give the text of the report referred to, but in expounding the resolution we shall keep the report before us, and look at the resolution in its light. The first principle is the consolidation of the funds of the County. Upions. Money is still to be raised by the standing machinery of the Unions, but is to be remitted to a Council of Finance, to be elected in a manner carefully provided for in the scheme. There will thus be “ a common purse into which all shall pour their offerings for Church Aid and Home Mission purposes, according to their means, and from which all shall draw according to their wants.” Here it may be objected that if at present the funds of most County Unions are only adequate to their purposes, why expose those funds to the risk of being ground down hy ths costly machinery of a larger administrative body. The objection is a very fair one, and would have great weight if we saw no prospect of an increase in the moneys at present raised. “But the hope"-we quote from an admirable article in the Congregationalist for September—“of the promoters of the consolidation scheme is that the claims of the general fund will be met on a very different scale from that on which the claims of the county funds have been met. . . . Let the appeal be for the work of Congregationalism in England; let it direct the eyes of the givers beyond the parish and the county to the wide field of the nation's life, where spiritual labourers are so urgently needed, and there will be a corresponding enlargement of their gifts. The enthusiasm of a greater project will unseal the fountains of liberality, and lead to other forms of consecration, by which all that is best in the work of Congregationalism will be strengthened."
The final determination of all grants is to rest with the Council of Finance, but the County Unions will still have the work of sifting the claims of Churches and mission-stations, and of recommending those claims to the Council; and it is in the light of these recommendations that the final action will be taken. The County Unions will not have less, but probably more, to do in the future than they
have had in the past; nor will there be much danger of antagonism between them and the Council, for the Council is to be strictly representative of the Unions. The way of working will be this: the Union will hold its usual meetings, and consider the question of grants to Churches in the usual way, except that its decision will not be final. A schedule of the grants proposed will then be forwarded to the Council. The Council will appoint an executive committee, which will again be divided into sub-committees, so as to deal conveniently with groups of counties and their reports. Thus, applications from Cumberland and Durham would not be considered by a committee dealing with Kent and Sussex. After the schedules have passed the committees they will be submitted for final approval to the Council, when the grants will be at once remitted to the officers of the County Unions.
It will thus be seen that all the inner life of the Unions will, as the first resolution provides, remain in its integrity. They will still need their present officers. They will still have laid upon them the duty of caring for all the Churches within their borders. They must still keep a look-out for fresh fields of labour, and the needs of new populations. They must still, by their Councils of Advice, and other means at their command, preserve the harmony in which Churches live and work. It is no part of the duty of the Council of Finance to interfere in any way with their inner life; and we daresay it will never veto their grants except in very exceptional circumstances, and under the pressure of unusual necessities. It is true that the Council reserves to itself the right of considering “any question which may be raised in regard to the extension of Congregational Missions, or the planting of Churches ;” but even in this it will pay special regard to the Unions ; for it is provided, “ that any decision it may reach shall be carried out in concord with the Association of the county to which the question refers.” For instance, if the needs of some new and rapidly increasing population, such as railway works are constantly creating, should come before the Council as an independent question and apart from any report from a County Union, the Council would not be at liberty to take action except after consultation with the County Union, and with its concurrence. It is, therefore, very probable that most Unions will receive quite as much as they now give, while some will receive very much more, and all will feel the benefit of a quickened interest, a larger life, and a closer sympathy.
The second part of the resolution speaks of " the connection of the administration of the consolidated funds with the Congregational Union.” It was deemed undesirable that any new association should be formed, and it is therefore recommended “ that the rules of the Congregational Union of England and Wales should be so altered as to provide within its constitution for an administrative body, representative of the County Associations, to which the general fund may be intrusted." The new body will be provided in the following way: To an annual finance meeting of the Union, to be held in May, the County Unions approving the scheme will send a certain number of elected delegates, who will form a special body to be called Church Finance Delegates. These will be joined at the finance meeting by the delegates to the Union from the Churches in the counties which accept the scheme, and by the delegates to the Union from Churches contributing to the general fund, but situated in counties whose Unions do not accept the scheme. At this annual finance meeting a Council of Finance is to be elected which will consist of the Church Finance Delegates, and twenty-five other members. This Council of Finance will be the "new administrative body." It will report yearly to the annual finance meeting, to which it will be responsible.
One feature to be noticed in this new scheme is the special guard that is raised against the creation of a central, self-contained, and irresponsible body. The third part of the resolution speaks of “the administration by a Council representative of the Associations and Churches which enter into the scheme.” The principle of representation is stretched to its utmost limit, and so the danger of large funds falling into the hands of irresponsible functionaries, or of dictatorial officials, is reduced to a minimum. A member of parliament failing in his duty to his constituents is dismissed at a general election; and so it will always be in the power of the County Unions to remove a delegate who fails to make himself acquainted with his special business, or neglects the interest of the Churches that sent him to the Council.
There are many matters of detail in the working of the scheme, which can be smoothly adjusted after a little experience. No doubt, modifications and expedients will be suggested by circumstances as they arise. For instance, it was strongly urged that it might be inconvenient for the recipients of grants to have to wait until the Council of Finance had finished its work, which could hardly be
earlier than July. But we suppose that it will be quite competent to the Unions to make some provisional arrangement, so that this inconvenience would at least be lessened. After all, this and many other things will soon be set right when earnest, frank, and businesslike men get fairly to work. These are comparatively trivial matters with which we need not concern ourselves. To these, and t other points which deserve careful consideration, we propose to refer “ in our next.”
IT is a summer evening
up a long, low; red brick house, and an old-fashioned garden, with its smooth turf, sun-dial, and closely trimmed hedges, its prim, straight paths, bordered with pinks, roses and gillyflowers, and shines upon a group of persons who are gathered beneath a spreading elm in front of the house.
It is evidently a family party. A grave, elderly man with a broad intellectual brow and somewhat worn features sits in the centre, and by his side a gentle-looking woman; while boys and girls of various ages surround them.
Among these, two are conspicuous. A youth of seventeen or thereabouts, whose likeness to his father is very striking-indeed, it is the same face with the freshness of youth replacing the lines of age, and the hopefulness and ardour of one who looks forward to a bright future, instead of the pensiveness that dwells upon a past full of troubles that have mingled with many blessings; the same determined glance, the same firm mouth and chin, the same fire in the keen blue eye which speaks of courage and endurance. And in both a sweetness in the expression of eye and mouth, which is peculiarly winning.
The other noticeable member of the party, and rendered more so by his position, is a mere child. A pretty, delicate lad of about seven years old, whose pale cheek and large, dreamy, dark eyes foretell the future student. He stands by his father's side, with one hand upon his knee, and looking towards his mother repeats aloud what seems to be a sermon, while the rest in various attitudes listen attentively. The plain Puritan dresses, no less than the aspect of the home, denote that the picture I have attempted to sketch is one of the past. All traces of it have faded, save in the