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OCTOBER 1, 1841.
NORTH-EASTERN UNITARIAN ASSOCIATION.- This Association held its Annual Meeting this year at Boston, on Thursday, the 22d of July. The proceedings commenced on the previous evening; on which occasion, the services were introduced at the chapel, by the Rev. J. Cooper of Fleet. The sermon was preached by the Rev. Edward Higginson of Hull, who, in an eminently sound and practical discourse, pointed out the true meaning and importance of the doctrine of Regeneration, and controverted the irrational and unscriptural teachings of the self-styled “Orthodox” churches. On the following morning and evening, the pulpit was occupied by the Rev. B. T. Stannus of Sheffield, who had been specially invited to preach the sermons at this anniversary. The morning sermon was devoted to the illustration of the subject of man's spirituality; while in that of the evening, it was shown how the character of God was exhibited in the teachings and character of Christ. But we regret our inability to give even an outline of the beautiful and instructive discourses delivered to the Association by this eloquent and distinguished preacher. The deep attention with which his expositions of divine truth were listened to by large audiences, testified at once the power of the preacher and the beauty and moral sublimity of the doctrines he advocated. At two o'clock on the same day, the members and friends of the Association, to the number of nearly one hundred, dined together at the Town Hall. It was truly delightful to witness on this occasion, the attendance at this social meeting of so many females and young persons. This excellent custom of uniting all classes, sexes, and ages together, for the purposes of social intercourse and mutual Christian co-operation, has been observed in this society since its first establishment, now a period of twenty years. Of the pleasure and moral benefit experienced by all who have habitually attended such meetings, it is unnecessary here to speak.
After the cloth was removed, the following sentiments were given from the chair, which was ably filled by Mr. Stannus, the officiating minister of the day. Health, Happiness, and Prosperity to Queen Victoria; may she long live to reign over these realms, to adorn with her virtues the high station to which God has called her, and to spread the blessings of just and impartial government, over a free, an enlightened, and a happy people.” 66 Prince Albert and the
Princess Royal." “ Civil and Religious Liberty all over the world.” This sentiment was responded to by Nathaniel Wedd, Esq. who, in a luminous and effective manner, expressed his views of Civil and Religious Freedom, vindicated his own right, and the right of all others, to the privilege of free inquiry; and denied the authority of any man, or body of men, to interfere with the private judgment of another; which expressions elicited the warm approbation of all present.
6 The Institution and Progress of this Society; its object, the diffusion of truth; its end, the promotion of charity. The Rev. James Malcolm, the Minister of the Congregation, briefly spoke of the constitution of the North Eastern Unitarian Association; commented upon the advantages to be gained from such societies; and expressed his earnest desire to further the great cause for which the Associated Churches were united.
Religion without Bigotry, and Education without Sectarianism,” called forth from Mr. Higginson a most luminous and masterly address, of which we much regret we cannot at present furnish a report.
Mr. Martin of Conigsby, a friend and convert of the late Rev. Richard Wright, the Unitarian Missionary, spoke with much point and feeling to the following sentiment;—“ The Friends of Human Improvement, in every country and of every creed; and may Sectarian Distinctions be lost in the relationship of human brotherhood.”
As the meeting was obliged to separate at an early hour, in consequence of there being evening service at half-past six at the chapel, the consideration of the remaining toasts and sentiments was postponed till nine o'clock, when the same party again assembled at a social repast in the Town Hall, Charles Wright, Esq. the Mayor, in the chair. After a vote of thanks had been passed to the ministers who had conducted the religious services of the day, the Rev. J. Cooper of Fleet, who had spent some years a missionary of Unitarianism, spoke in a lively and interesting manner, to the sentiment of " Home and Foreign Missions; may they be successful, when their aim is universal improvement; and may zeal for such enterprises be kindled, when that zeal is according to knowledge. The proceedings of the evening were closed by a powerful speech from the Rev. Mr. Stannus, on the subject of “Unitarian Christianity—the religion of Jesus and the Apostles, and the religion of the primitive Christians; may it again shine forth in its original purity and power, bringing glory to God and good-will to men.
The social entertainments of the day were much enlivened by several appropriate pieces of music, which were sung with much taste and effect by the choir of the Congregation.
It is worthy of remark, and a circumstance that should operate as a strong encouragement to Unitarian Christians not to despair regarding the final success of their rational and Scriptural views of religion, that the majority of the individuals who delivered addresses at this Anniversary, avowed themselves to be converts from Orthodoxy; among which declarations, we must not neglect to mention that of a venerable friend from Fleet, Mr. Stanger, whose touching and simple account of his religious experience elicited the warm sympathy of all present. There is also another circumstance which may cause the friends of “pure and undefiled religion” to “thank God and take courage," that, though there were present at this Anniversary a smaller number of strangers than usual, owing to the extreme severity of the weather, yet the several meetings were as numerously attended as upon any former occasion in this town. Mr. Stannus preached in the chapel on the Sunday following, to crowded audiences. The practice of the invited ministers at such anniversary meetings, remaining over Sundays, might be recommended as beneficial on such occasions; as it cannot be expected that all who might feel inclined to attend the services on Thursday, can make it convenient to do so, owing to the claims upon their time made by their daily occupations.
JAMES MALCOLM, Sec. THE No-POPERY AGITATORS.—On Friday evening, July 30, James Lord, Esq. barrister-at-law, who is perambulating the country as the agent of the Metropolitan Protestant Association, paid the town of Warrington, in Lancashire, a visit, to deliver a lecture on the awful inroads of Popery" in this country. The large room at the Lion Hotel was pretty well filled; the fair sex forming, as usual on such occasions, a large proportion of the audience. The lecture consisted of the usual rant and declamation in which the No-Popery agitators are such practised adepts. The Catholic Emancipation Bill was decried as the heaviest blow the Protestant Church of England has ever received. The crying evils of Ireland were all described as proceeding from the existence of the Roman Catholic religion. Its professors were described as men utterly regardless of the sanctions of an oath; and peace and prosperity, it was asserted, would never take up their abode in Britain till Popery was hunted out of the land. At the close of the lecture, a vote of thanks was proposed by the Rev. J. Wright, incumbent of St. James's Church, Latchford, to the lecturer, for his “ eloquent, Scriptural, Protestant, and convincing lecture.” The chairman, Mr. Perrin, put the proposition to the meeting, and,
without putting the negative, declared the vote of thanks to be carried unanimously. On this, the Rev. F. Bishop, the Unitarian minister, arose and said, that he could not sit there and allow himself to be supposed to join in thanks for a lecture so anti-Christian, and containing such a bitter effusion of bigotry. He therefore called upon the chairman to observe that the vote was not unanimous, inasmuch as he (Mr. Bishop) held up his hand against it. Mr. Bishop's example was immediately followed by a respectable minority holding up their hands. This proceeding was followed by great confusion, in the midst of which Mr. Lord rose to return thanks, and in his remarks made an appeal to Mr. Bishop and the other dissentients, with a view to convince them that they ought to aid him in his efforts to stem the current of Popery. Mr. Bishop then rose to address the meeting, but was met by a storm of hisses, hootings, and exclamations from the ladies and gentlemen present. One young lady, in particular, slapped her handkerchief several times in Mr. Bishop's face, shouting out, “Down with him.” As a specimen of clerical courtesy, we may mention, that the Rev. J. Wright having asked the Rev. F. Bishop who he was, and being presented with his card, threw it at him. The uproar increasing, and the chairman wishing Mr. Bishop not to proceed, he said that, as he could not then be heard, he would deliver a lecture on the subject, on the following Sunday evening, at the Unitarian Chapel. This was subsequently announced by advertisement, the subject of the lecture being stated as “ The spirit of Christ and the spirit of modern Anti-Popery agitators contrasted.”
On Sunday evening, the congregation began to assemble considerably before the hour announced for the commencement of the service, and the lecture was delivered to a numerous, respectable, and very attentive audience, from John xiii. 35: “ By this shall all men know that ye are my disciples, if ye have love one to another.” Such was the impression made by the lecturer, that a requisition was presented to Mr. Bishop for its re-delivery. He complied with the request, and on this occasion the chapel was crowded to overflowing. We admire the spirit manifested by Mr. Bishop. When similar opportunities present themselves, would all our ministers go and do likewise, incalculable good would be produced; the spirit of bigotry would be rebuked, and the principles of pure Christianity would become better and more widely known. We sincerely wish Mr. Bishop God speed in his new sphere of Christian usefulness.
MAIDSTONE MECHANICS' INSTITUTION FESTIVAL. We have always advocated, as of the greatest importance to the well-being of the community, the institution of rational and cheerful amusements for the people. The aristocratic pride which looks down with contempt or indifference on the humble enjoyments of the masses, is as irrational as it is unchristian. The gloomy and withering theology which regards popular recreations as temptations of the Devil
, is as superstitious and unsocial as it is mournful and debasing. The toils of labour need relaxation; men's thews and sinews cannot always be strung to drudgery; and if rational and exhilarating amusements be not provided for the hewers of wood and drawers of water, they will seek excitement in the beer-shop or the spirit-cellar. The surest way to elevate and purify the tastes of the people, is to treat them as rational and civilised beings. Trust the people; show them that you esteem them as members of one great family, and that respect will not be lost upon them—that trust will not be abused. We were delighted at witnessing additional proofs of the truth of these remarks, on occasion of the Mechanics’ Institution Festival at Maidstone. Seldom have we passed a more gratifying afternoon.
We pitied the clergy and those of their people who could absent themselves from so joyous a spectacle, whether that absence arose from false theology, or as baseless political prepossessions. But we the more honoured those who were present, and most of all, those who devised and so admirably conducted or lent their aid to the pleasures of this very interesting meeting. We should rejoice in seeing similar meetings in all the districts of our country. They would do more to bind the various sections of society together in the bonds of fellowship, than all the garniture of official pomp or military and naval establishments. We copy from that excellently conducted paper, the Maidstone Gazette, the following account of the festival:
66 The Third Annual Festival of the Mechanics' Institution took place on Friday, Aug. 6, in the paddock and pleasuregrounds of J. Hepburn, Esq. at Tovil, who had a second time most handsomely and liberally granted the use of them. to the members and friends of the above Institution, for their annual festivity.
“ The weather of Friday was highly favourable. Every possible precaution had been taken to guard against rain, which would, in a great measure, have destroyed all the enjoyments of the fete. A booth, substantially erected by Mr. Mitchell
, had been provided, capable of accommodating nearly 400 persons at tea, and of affording standing room for 1,000. A temporary erection of scaffold poles, lent by Mr. Allen,