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THE first century of the General Baptist body is completed. Our anniversary meetings are over, and we have fairly, and with cheering promises and sacred pledges, started upon the second hundred years of our existence. The most remarkable annual gathering ever held by us is passed, and it is not too much to say that it was in most respects all that could have been desired or expected. We began with cordial greetings, lofty aspirations, and ardent desires. We ended with stronger attachment to our redeeming Saviour, and to one another, and a more fixed and resolute determination to consecrate ourselves with fresh zeal and glowing enthusiasm to our work for God and men. A spirit of earnest and devout gratitude pervaded the assemblies. Every heart was beating loyally to the great principles and sublime enterprises which hold us together. Memories of the past were with us, and we were happier and stronger for their sustaining and encouraging influence. The powers of the world to come were upon us, filling us with reverence and awe. The needs of the present were before us, quickening our lagging hearts, and urging us to immediate endeavour. Our second jubilee will mark the beginning of a new era in our denominational history.
Little was wanting to make the Centenary celebration successful. The weather was propitious in a high degree. Jerusalem was not better situated for the "tribes that went up to the testimony of the Lord" than Leicester for the Association of General Baptists; and the efforts of the friends there to multiply the comforts and increase the joys of their many visitors deserve the highest possible praise. The representation was almost universal. The council was really œcumenical. Portsea shakes hands with Dewsbury. Norfolk is seated by the side of Cheshire. Great Grimsby and Birmingham are in the same pew. London and Misterton converse together. Dwellers in the Midland towns and villages rejoice to welcome troops of friends from North and South and East and West. New York and Minnesota
fraternize with England. Scotland is represented by two of her sons; Germany by two of her daughters; and far-off India by brother Miller, just arrived from his labours amongst the people of Orissa. What is it that has brought all these hearts together? Where is the charm, more powerful than ancient magic or modern science, that accomplishes this wonder? Thanks be to our Father in heaven for the uniting love of Christ which can thus make the heart of a multitude as the heart of one, and blend together the sympathies, and efforts, and prayers, and hopes of those whom it redeems.
The Centenary services began, as was meet, with prayer and praise. The Rev. Thos. Stevenson, a father amongst us, presided, and prayers were offered by brethren Allsop, W. R. Stevenson, and Marshall. Following this, a sermon was preached by the Rev. J. C. Jones, M.A., on 1 Cor. ix. 22, 23. The theme was timely, and the handling intensely earnest. self-sacrificing devotedness of the apostle Paul was portrayed as (1.) firing him with a noble ambition to save souls; (2.) constraining him to a generous compromise to be and become all things necessary to gain this end; and (3.) as leading to such results as the increase of the glory of Christ in the gospel, the richer enjoyment of the blessings of grace here, and of the rewards of glory hereafter. The preacher closed with an appeal to the younger brethren to imitate the early fathers, and give up everything to save souls.
Tuesday morning, seven o'clock, found a large number of persons gathered in Archdeacon Lane Chapel, to listen to a sermon by the Rev. T. R. Stevenson, of Luton. A brother who was present writes-"The chapel and the man were chosen to fit each other. The grandfather of the preacher began his ministry in that place, and the uncle of the preacher is the senior pastor at the present time. The sermon was eminently characteristic, and very appropriate to the occasion. Our Lord's words to Nathaniel Thou shalt see
greater things than these,' were used as calling us to greater consecration, greater effort, and greater prayerfulness in Christian enterprises. The work of the century was admitted to be great, but greater things were possible, and to be hoped for in the future. The clear voice, the calm quiet earnestness, the youthful appearance, no less than his terse epigrammatic style and freshness of anecdotal illustrativeness, gave much interest to the sermon, and made it a very profitable and pleasant morning service." At ten o'clock the Chairman delivered his address. It consisted in the main of a review of the condition of the world and of the church in 1770, and of brief sketches of the men who began our denomination, as well as of those who have taken a leading part in building it up. The following resolution was unanimously passed :-" That we offer our most cordial thanks to the Rev. Dr. Underwood, for his most instructive, interesting, suitable, serious, practical, and admirable address, and request that it be printed, not only in the minutes' for the year, but also separately, and that forthwith, for general circulation." Let every one of the 21,000 of our Israel take care to get and read this interesting and instructive document.
The business of the Association was commenced by the election of Mr. H. Jelley to the position of Vice-Chairman, and Mr. F. Squier to that of Assistant Secretary. The report for the year was read by the Secretary. The number of members was then (eleven churches not having reported) 20,997. The details will be given in the "Year Book," both of the report and of the business transacted during the sittings of the Association. In the evening the public meeting on behalf of Home Missions was held, Mr. T. W. Marshall presiding, and addresses being given by the Revds. J. H. Atkinson, W. Gray, H. N. Herrick, W. Cookson, M.A., and T. Goadby, B.A.
The early service on Wednesday morning was conducted by the Rev. R. Hardy, of Queensbury, and brethren Chamberlain, Salter, and J. Stevenson, M.A., engaged in prayer. The Sunday School Conference, managed by Mr. Goodliffe, of Nottingham, followed quickly upon the morning meeting. F. Stevenson. Esq., took the chair, and papers, which will appear in the "Magazine," were read by Mr. B. Baldwin and the Rev. J. Clifford, on the " History of our Sunday Schools," and the "Sunday Schools of the Future," respectively. The meeting was numerously attended, and very enthusiastic in Sunday School work. At eleven o'clock Friar Lane Chapel was crowded in every part to hear a sermon from the Rev. J. Burns, D.D. The service
was opened by the Rev. J. Stevenson, A.M. The Doctor's text was "Christ is all and in all." He discoursed on the exalted position and unapproachable pre-eminence of Christ in creation, in providence, in the various dispensations of grace, in the whole of the Scriptures, in the experience of Christian life, and the hope of the future, and then applied this glorious theme to the circumstances of the Centenary year.
Feelings of the deepest interest, solemnity, and joy were awakened by the United Communion Service. A holy calm diffused itself around, and an earnest penitence; faith and hope struggled for expression as we listened to the gracious and comfortable words so pathetically and tenderly addressed to us by brother Preston. The scene itself was most hallowed, and the experience exalting and purifying. Gathered from every part of the Connexion, some belonging to the ranks of fleet and nimble youth, fresh for service and eager for work; and others ready to be offered, and sensible that the time of departure is at hand; and yet all joining to commemorate the love of God in the gift of His Son for our redemption. Never can we forget the solemn occasion, and surely it will be long before its sanctifying influence has passed away from us.
The day closed with the annual meeting of the Foreign Missionary Society. This was held in Belvoir Street chapel, kindly lent by the Rev. J. P. Mursell. G. Stevenson, Esq., Mayor of Leicester, presided, and addresses were delivered by the Revs. W. Sampson, of Folkestone, W. Bailey, and Dr. Haycroft.
The last Association morning brought with it a sermon from the Rev. Robert Cameron, M.A., the deputation (along with the Rev. N. H. Herrick, of Minnesota) from the Free-Will Baptists of America to our assembly. The discourse was based upon the prayer of the disciples to the Master, "Lord, increase our faith," and contained sound and seasonable advice on the increase of faith, and the urgent necessity for strenuous effort to gain more faith in God, in one another, and in the kingdom of Christ. The abundant business of the day was relieved at twelve o'clock by the reading of the Letter prepared by the Rev. J. C. Pike, on "Our Future." This document will also appear in our "Minutes," and may be studied by our readers at their leisure. One thing about the business of the Association may be interposed here, and that is, that if it is to be done with any efficiency, we must have more time for it. It is impossible to transact even the ordinary work of the Association, and we ought always to have something or other of an extraordinary
character, in the time allotted to it. We must make up our minds to take part or the whole of Friday, and also see if we cannot in these days of swift transit get more work into Monday than we do. These changes are absolutely necessary; and whatever difficulties are in the way of making them must be mastered, and that right early.
The Centenary meeting on Thursday evening crowned the whole of our anniversary gatherings. In the absence of R. Wherry, Esq., Mayor of Wisbech, through illness, W. Newman, Esq., of Louth, took the chair. Speeches of fifteen minutes' duration (which we are sorry we cannot describe for want of space) were made by the Revs. T. W. Mathews, W. E. Winks, J. J. Goadby, C. Springthorpe, I. Stubbins, W. R. Stevenson, M.A., and W. Evans. The Secretary closed with prayer and the benediction; and so terminated this eminently successful Centenary celebration.
Of the many things that might be said concerning this Association, one is so imperative that it cannot be passed over in silence. We must not forget those "women who laboured with us for the increase of the Centenary Fund, by patient and self-denying efforts at the Bazaar. A large debt of gratitude is due to them, as also to the many friends who have so generously contributed to secure the magnificent result of an addition to that Fund of the sum of £500. This contribution, together with what has already been given or promised, will carry us close to one-half of the £5,000 it is proposed to raise.
Brethren, we cannot review the closing hours of the century spent thus together without the profoundest thankfulness to God for the large earnest He has given us
ARM of the Lord, awake;
The standard high upraise;
of His gracious blessing, for the opening years that now stretch before us rich with promise and white to the harvest. The Lord has met with us amid our greetings and farewells, and He will go up with us to our new tasks in these new years, and make us more than conquerors. Let this
be our impulse for the future. England needs us, and our message about the Father's warm love drawing to Himself all men without respect of persons. There are many regions in our own land where such a life-giving gospel is not heard, and beyond, alas! darkness and death still reign. Honoured fathers! making ready to ungird because your work is done, plead for us who are in the thick of the battle, that we may not trail in the dust the banner ye have uplifted so long and so well. Young men and brothers! let us by a Christ-taught unselfishness, a total forgetfulness of personal ease, and a sublime abandonment of ourselves to Him who has redeemed us, fulfil His purposes of grace to this generation. We of all men must not dare for a moment to think of living to ourselves. Ours is a nobler ambition and a more absorbing passion. Courage! brethren! We need not fear. Our Leader is with us, and by His grace and strength we shall fill this new century with the fame of His illustrious conquests, and the blessings of his extending dominion. "Have mercy upon us, O Lord God of all, and behold us, and send Thy fear upon all the nations that seek not after Thee. Lift up Thy hand upon the strange nations, and let them see Thy power. As Thou wast sanctified in us before them, so be Thou magnified among them before us, and let them know Thee as we have known Thee, that there is no God but only Thou, O God." J. CLIFFORD.
Put on Thy strength, the nation shake, As in the ancient days.
Arm of the Lord, awake;
Thy strength is all our trust;
The bands of slumbering Zion break,
Arm of the Lord, awake;
Confound Thy foes' loud boast;
Through the great deeps a pathway make
Arm of the Lord, awake;
SONS of God, now join the chorus
In the hundred years gone by.
Sons of God, possess their spirit
Of the hundred years gone by!
Sons of God, their fight and labour We must be equipped to try; Ripley.
Crave not wealth or kingly favour;
In the hundred years gone by.
In the hundred years gone by.
Sons of God, repeat the chorus ;
E. H. J.
Brief Notices of New Books.
SHALL I LIVE FOR EVER? By W. Barker. 1s. PAULINE THEOLOGY; or the Christian Doc
trine of Punishment, as taught in the Epistles of Paul. By H. L. Hastings. 1s. London: E. Stock.
Books on this interesting and painful subject multiply at a very rapid rate. In the pamphlet by Mr. Barker, the opposing statements of "Restorationists" and "Annihilationists' are arranged with considerable skill and effect, so as, in fact, to clear the ground for the subsequent building up of the doctrines of man's "natural immortality," and the "everlasting punishment" of the wicked. The treatment is reverent and able. The aim is to convince the understanding rather than to excite the feelings. We commend Mr. Barker's pamphlet to any who are seeking for an answer to the question, "Shall I live for ever?"
Grant that the word translated "perish" in the writings of the Apostle Paul means uniformly "to destroy, utterly to annihilate, to come to an end," and then the reasoning of Mr. Hastings is of the most convincing kind. But this is our preliminary difficulty. Is the wisdom of the wise (1. Cor. i. 19) utterly extirpated, annihilated! Or is the word "destroy" used in a figurative sense, and equivalent to rendering void or bringing to nought? We do not hesitate about the answer, and therefore we cannot follow a book which passes over this fundamental difficulty, and builds up a theory without ever facing it. Though there is much that is good in Mr. Hastings' pamphlet, this fault vitiates the whole.
THE PLYMOUTH BRETHREN. Their Rise Divisions, Practice, and Doctrines. E. Dennett. London: E. Stock. Price 6d. THE contents of this carefully prepared lecture are, from one point of view, of a most painful character. We had some knowledge of the nature and extent of the errors into which " Plymouth Brethren" had fallen; but we scarcely imagined it possible that such intolerance, bigotry, and uncharitableness, as they have displayed, could find place in these days. The claim of infallibility is openly made by the Pope, and if this witness be true, and there is every reason to believe it, Mr. Darby assumes to himself the same divine prerogative amongst the congeries of sects called Plymouth Brethren !" Mr. Dennett has rendered most valuable service to the cause of truth and charity by this timely and faithful exposure. Whoever is fascinated by the peculiar teaching of this last and worst incarnation of sectarianism, let him get this pamphlet, and he will be instantly set free from the false and perilous charm.
WON AT LAST. By Thornley Smith. London: E. Stock.
THIS is one of the most fascinating biographies we have recently read. It held us spell-bound from the first to the last page. Happy the son of such parents, and fortunate the parents in having such a son to chronicle their earnest, humble piety, fervent devotion, and high spiritual worth. Not a law of good biographical writing is disobeyed. The arrangement of the facts, the practical suggestions coming
to the surface, the quotations from poets and prose authors, are all of the most appropriate character. It is an excellent book for a Sunday school library, and specially suited for youths going to sea: but its chief charm is in the discovery it makes of a serene and holy godliness gracing and beautifying a lowly home. This is another chapter added to the long story of piety in humble life.
FEATHERS FOR ARROWS; or Illustrations for Preachers and Teachers. By C. H. Spurgeon. London: Passmore and Alabaster. 2s. 6d.
PREACHERS and Teachers given to an abundant use of anecdote will find here what in all probability they need, a new supply of illustrations remarkable for freshness and force, raciness and robustness. To men who lack imagination, the book will prove a stimulus of no common kind, partly by supplying material, but chiefly by suggesting the manifold ways in which the events of daily life may illustrate and enforce the teaching of the Bible. This book is specially handy. It is the right sort of thing to have by you when you need an illustration, for you need lose no time in finding anything it contains. The arrangement of subjects is alphabetical. This is supplemented with a copious index, and a list of references to texts of Scripture illustrated therein. Let ministers and teachers, whether old or young, but specially if young, get hold of and rightly affix these "feathers" to straight, strong, and well-made " arrows," and their teaching will be more likely to stick in the hearts of the King's enemies. There is still a better thing they may attempt, and that is to keep a "note-book" of their own, and as near to this in excellence as possible.
GENTLE DRAWINGS: or the Influence of Well-doing. By Mrs. S. J. Chew. London: Jarrold & Sons.
THIS book is well fitted for circulation amongst the cottager and artizan class, and will effectively draw such as are indifferent to habits of virtue and sobriety, at
"THE KEEPSAKE SCRIPTURE TEXT BOOK," which has just been issued, is an attractive little volume. The Rev. J. C. Ryle, who has contributed a well-written preface, describes the work as a pocket companion containing a text and a few lines of a hymn for each day in the year, with a blank space opposite for recording any thought or fact that one wants not to lose." The "Keepsake," which will be found very acceptable to gather together the autographs of friends, and to record wedding, birthday, and all memorable days, has been neatly printed on good paper, and is very prettily bound.
THE YOUNG MEN'S CHRISTIAN ASSOCIATION: "Our Work." By R. A. Hatchard. This paper gives in a brief space an able and stimulating account of the aims and plans of operation of their organization.
THE LATE JUDGE PAYNE.-A portrait of this eminent philanthropist, accompanied by an interesting biographical sketch, will appear in the June number of Old Jonathan.