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themselves in humble circumstances, directly raised a collection of more than two pounds for the brethren at Padiham. Mr. Wilkinson next stated, that a vigorous effort had been made at Oldham, to revive the interests of our common cause; and so successful had it been, that not less than forty sittings had, within the last few months, been taken in the chapel. The next Association was appointed to be held at Newchurch, Mr. Tate of Charles, and Mr. Davis of Chowbent, being requested to preach. The meeting then concluded, as it had commenced, with singing and prayer. In the evening an interesting discourse was delivered by the Rev. J. Ragland of Hindley,
ON Monday evening, the 2d June, a general Meeting of the Subscribers and friends to the Fellowship Fund, in connection with the Unitarian Congregation, Sheffield, was held in the Chapel. After Mr. Harris had commenced the meeting by singing and prayer, T. A. Ward, Esq. the Town's Regent, was appointed chairman. The following Report was read by Mr. Palfreyman, the Secretary. Various resolutions were movedby Messrs. Wright of Stannington, Brettell of Rotherham, and Harris of Glasgow; and the meeting concluded with singing and prayer. We were glad to see this meeting. It was attended by many persons of other denominations. It is highly to the honour of our Sheffield friends, thus to have led the way in exciting public attention to the proceedings and progress of Unitarianism. This field of exertion, we have too long allowed those who oppose and deprecate our principles, wholly to occupy. We need not wonder, that the public mind should be impressed against us and our opinions, whilst we suffer the public ear, only to listen to denunciations of our faith, and condemnations of our indifference and supineness. Would we have the pure gospel of the Saviour to bless the hearts and improve the minds of our fellow-creatures, we must show that we are ourselves in earnest. We must prove, that we are anxious that others should embrace the faith we profess, by manifesting in our actions its sanctifying and benevolent influences.
"The Committee of the Sheffield Fellowship Fund, in reporting to the Members the state of the Institution committed to their care, have great pleasure in announcing, that the increased support which they obtained from the Congregation at the close of the year 1826, continues; and although no great addition has been made to the number of the members since the last annual meeting, the funds of the Society are greater than those of the preceding year. The amount collected and to collect is £34: 15:0, the number of members 132. Donations have been given from this amount, to the chapels at Preston, Glasgow, St. Cleat's, and Northampton, and also to the Unitarian Association. Notwithstanding the publicity given on a previous occasion to the plan and objects of Fellowship Funds, your Committee think that it will not be improper on the present occasion, to again call the attention of the members and of the friends of the Institution, to
a brief sketch of the rise, progress, and intent of these associations, the establishment of which, forms an era in the history of English Unitarianism; and they trust that this deviation from the usual plan of reporting a mere formal detail of their Stewardship, will not be unacceptable. In the year 1816, the late Dr. Thomson of Halifax, and afterwards of Leeds, first drew the attention of the Unitarian public, through the medium of the Monthly Repository, to the advantages, both as regarded policy, temporal and religious, which the union of efforts was calculated to create; he appealed to the experience which other sects had afforded, of the efficacy of the contribution of numbers, at stated times, and in proportions differing according to their ability, towards the attainment of some common object; and pointed out the peculiar advantages arising from such institutions, as Unitarians were not united in any ecclesiastical discipline; and as the diffusion of their doctrines among the humbler classes of their countrymen, had brought forward many cases in which persons were desirous of joining together in the profession and worship of the one God the Father, after the example and according to the command of the Christian Lawgiver, but were prevented from carrying their pious desires into effect, by the want of means. The amiable originator had other views, besides a mere accumulation of strength, in advocating these institutions; he foretold the benefits which would arise from bringing the different members of each Society into a Christian fellowship with each other; in creating a personal as well as a congregational friendship amongst the respective parts of the different bodies. It would be a delightful task to trace the gradual developement of the embryo system in the mind of its inventor-to follow, step by step, the arguments as they presented themselves to his imagination from his first mentioning the plan at a meeting in Elland in this County, in the year 1815, to the recommending these institutions to the acceptance of his fellow-religionists-but that task cannot now be attempted. Imagination can only supply the place of facts-for that mind was soon removed from its earthly clothing, that amiable spirit which when on earth seemed superior to its station, was soon removed to dwell with kindred spirits in another and a better state; before he could see the glorious fruits which have sprung up and flourished from the seed he sowed, death summoned him away, and, in his removal, has cast a hallowed atmosphere around these the effects of his dying labours. Some of the views which he entertained in connection with these institutions, and the nature of the incentives which spurred him on to the development of his plans, are preserved in the paper which he published in the Monthly Repository for October 1816; and in the following remarks of the late Rev. H. Turner of Nottingham, his friend on earth, and now no doubt his friend in heaven
For there congenial minds, array'd in light,
High thoughts shall interchange,
On wings of love to range.'
It may be allowed one,' says Mr. Turner, who had the happiness of being intimately acquainted with the late Dr. Thomson, to describe the views which he entertained on this subject. He was of opinion, that the Unitarians were far from doing justice to their own cause. The opposition they had experienced from without, had not been compensated by any closer union amongst themselves. The scattered members of their body were left to struggle as they could, with the difficulties and discouragements arising from an unpopular persuasion, and were scarcely made conscious that there existed any who partook of the same religious sentiments, and were actuated by the same conviction as themselves. Unitarians, he thought, had called in the aid of so few of the natural and usual means of success, that had it not been for the intrinsic strength of their cause, it must soon have become extinct. He observed, with great satisfaction, the progress of Unitarianism among the lower classes, and regarded it as an important test of the truth and solidity of its principles; for he was accustomed to say, that a religion which did not meet the wants of the poor, ought to be rejected by all. He was rejoiced to find Unitarian principles as suitable to the cottage of the poor, as to the closet of the learned. In this state of things, he perceived that a greater union had become in our Societies absolutely necessary.' But the following passage from Dr. Thomson's own paper, respecting Fellowship Funds, will throw the most direct light on his own views:- The calls upon Unitarian liberality, for the erection of new chapels, and other important objects, have of late happily been frequent. But if continued, which I trust will be the case, they cannot be so promptly met and so effectually answered as they ought to be. The willing giver, from prudential motives, will be obliged, however reluctantly, to withhold his aid. We must, therefore, look out for other and multiplied sources of supply, and call in the many in aid of the few. Before you,' said the amiable author, 'is a plan for that purpose, which, whilst it originates a fresh set of contributors, and falls so easily upon all as not to be felt by any, does not interfere with, nor supersede the exercise of liberality on the part of the affluent members of the Unitarian body.' The spirited appeal thus made, was speedily answered, and the Unitarian congregations were surprised at their mental lethargy, in not having sooner discovered and adopted a plan, so simple in its constitution, so powerful in its effects. The details of Dr. Thomson's plan were nearly similar to those adopted by this and every other institution bearing the name of Fellowship Funds; the peculiar objects of each Society, its management and internal regulations, differing or agreeing with each other according to the will of the respective congregations. The congregation of the new meeting at Birmingham, claim the palm of having first carried into operation Dr. Thomson's suggestions. The elder members of the congregation thought the small subscription too trifling and too troublesome to engage their attention; but the younger members, attracted by the simplicity of the plan, engaged with the zeal peculiar to their age, in reducing
it to practice. Their active exertions soon rendered the Institution of importance, and within a very short time after the publication of Dr. Thomson's letter, the Birmingham Society came into full operation, and has since continued of great service to the cause it was formed to support. The seniors soon lent their aid to the juniors, but, with a Christian feeling, have ever since yielded to the youthful originators the principal management of the Institution. In the first year, they enrolled 226 members; it was this Society that first seconded the exertions of Dr. Thomson, by publishing in the Christian Reformer, an account of its own origin, and a statement of its usefulness; thus holding out an inducement to other congregations to follow its example. The old Meeting-house at Birmingham speedily followed its neighbours in this work of love, and it is with pride your Committee are able to state, that Sheffield was not backward in lending its aid in promoting this desirable measure. In the year 1817, a Fellowship Fund was established in connection with this congregation, which, although for a time it was in a state of comparative inefficiency, has now given, and is giving ample proofs of the immensity of the good which such institutions are calculated to accomplish. Liverpool, York, Lincoln, Chesterfield, and many other places, caught the pious enthusiasm, and joined their efforts to support their various Institutions, scattering good around them, and proving the truth of the poet's attribute of mercy: that 'it is twice blessed -it blesseth him that gives, and them that receive.'
"Various additions have been made by different Societies to the original plan of Dr. Thomson, in pursuance of his ardent wish, that the friends of Unitarianism would improve upon his suggestion. In 1818, the Fellowship Fund at Lincoln, then under the care of that indefatigable minister, Mr. Hawkes, joined to the other objects of the fund, a plan of circulating books and pamphlets connected with Unitarianism, amongst its members; and also connecting with it meetings for religious discussion, and exercises similar in effect to those which this Society has adopted. The Fellowship Fund at York also embraced amongst its objects, at an early period of its existence, the formation of a Vestry Library. The one at Cirencester, which was established under the management of a late townsman, Mr. T. Horsfield, also added to its other objects, the purchase and circulation of books; and the Gravel-Pit Meeting at Hackney, agreeably as they state in their Report for the year 1820, to another of the express objects of Fellowship Funds, provided books and pamphlets for the use of the members of the congregation in humble life; and they express a hope that their successors in office will keep that object in view. And their successors obeyed that injunction, and in their Report for the following year, spoke in high terms of the benefit which had been derived from this department of their institution. The Fellowship Fund at Taunton, has carried their plan of circulating tracts to a great extent, and the Committee, in connection with this distribution, also hold meetings for religious conversation. This mode of appropriating a small part of the Funds, appears to
your Committee, highly useful and perfectly compatible with the plan and rules of the Institution; they mention it, not however in the way of proposition, but merely hint at it, to show that there are still plans open for further usefulness, and that we need not be weary of welldoing.
"Meetings for religious conversation, and for communications respecting the progress of Unitarian sentiments, have been added to the Fellowship Funds of a great number of congregations; the instances of Lincoln and Taunton have been mentioned. The Bristol Congregation have long adopted it, and in their Report for the year 1823, speak in high terms of their utility, and state that they have essentially contributed to the promotion of congregational plans of usefulness.
"The means employed by all the Institutions, to collect their respective funds are nearly alike, allowing the smallest contribution, a penny per week, to constitute the subscriber a member, and to give the contributor a right to have a voice in the appropriation of the Society's property. The objects of the Institution, as briefly stated in the rules, are to give such occasional assistance as may be wanted for Unitarian chapels, or other buildings connected with them, about to be erected, repaired, or enlarged; and to aid any Institution now existing, or which may be hereafter formed, appearing to be calculated to support the cause of religious truth and liberty. But these are not the only benefits which have arisen from their institution: in many instances they have been the means of keeping together the scattered few, whom similarity of sentiment had joined; in all, they have been found to aid the great cause of truth, and to draw in closer compact and fellowship, the Christian congregations which have adopted them. The plan and the objects are alike admirable, and it is with confidence that we call upon you for a continuance and an increase of your support to these combinations for good.
"Whilst thus enumerating the advantages of these Institutions, it is with regret that your Committee have to allude to a serious evil which has arisen out of their establishment-an evil which the generous mind of their originator never anticipated, and which, but for the various lamentable proofs that have been given of its existence, would be doubted by all, whose hearts lay claim to liberal feeling, or whose hands were ever stretched forth to aid the progress of truth-an evil, which if not speedily checked, will either destroy altogether the Institutions out of which it has sprung, or materially impede the progress of the cause it is your wish to support, by limiting the means of its supporters. Your Committee refer to the mistaken notion, which has been adopted by many of the members of this and similar Institutions, that the funds thus raised, are to supply entirely all the aid formerly obtained from individual subscriptions; and that the small amount individually contributed to these funds, is to exempt the contributors from those calls upon their liberality, which it was once their pleasure and their pride speedily and liberally to answer, since the frequency of such calls evinced the progress of the sentiments they