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ANNIVERSARY OF THE WESLEYAN METHODIST MISSIONARY SOCIETY, HELD
AT THE CITY-ROAD CHAPEL, ON MONDAY MAY 5.
i The Rev. DR. ADAM CLARKE, President of the Corference, opened the Meeting i with prayer, immediately after which the Chair was taken. The Chapel was i crowded by persons who, having been admitted by tickets as Members of the
Institution, appeared to take the most lively intcrest in the proceedings of the · day, of which the following is a sketch.
The CHAIRMAN congratulated his Christian friends on the return of that Anniversary, which was so calculated to awaken gratitude to God, for all his meri cies to themselves, their families, and the country. This surely was matter of
thankfulness and joy; especially in relation to that great cause which they were associated to promote. God bad exalted this nation to extraordinary power and influence, that it might enrich the world by disseminating the Gospel. The Spirit had also been poured out in connexion with the benevolent exertions of British Christians. By means of that Society, and of other kindred Institutions, the most blessed effects had been produced. During the last year there had been a great increase in the funds of the Society; but more had been done than the mere contribution of money. God had raised up men, who were well qualified to carry on his work; and many souls had been converted from the error of their way, by the successfui labours of his servants. Not only were the places of those supplied whom God had removed from this world to their eternal reward, but considerable additions had been made to our religious Societies in different places. Thus God was carrying on his work; and they had much reason to think, that the coming year would be more abundant than the past. Yet their success did not come up to their wishes, nor to the necessity of their fellow-creatures. Various places were calling for help, and their exertions were limited only by their pecuniary means. He would not attempt to enter into the detail of the Report they were met to hear, nor of those Resolutions which were intended to be adopted, for the carrying on of this important undertaking.
An abstract of the Report was then read by the Rev. RICHARD WATSON, assisted by the Rev. JABEZ BUSTING. It contained a brief account of the state of the work of God at the different stations occupied by the Society's Missionaries, (whose number is upwards of One Hundred and Fifty, exclusive of Native Catechists and School-Masters,) and of its income and expenditure during the past year. The number of persons in religious Society, under the pastoral care of the Missionaries, is 30,587. The sums remitted to the General Treasurers, in the course of the past year, amount to £31,748. 9s. 11d.; and £26,032, Is. 9d. bave been expended during the same period, in the support and enlargement of the work of God, agreceably to the general Rules of the Society. A considerable portion of the last year's Debt has been paid off; but there is still a balance due to the Treasurers to the amount of £2702. 12s. 3d.
The Report stated, that in the course of the past year a new Mission had been commenced to the Friendly Islands in the South Sea; and that the Committee contemplate the appointment of two Missionaries to Jerusalem, with as little delay as possible.
The First Resolution," That the Report now read be adopted, and printed under the direction of the Committee,"—was moved by the REV. JOSEPH HUGHES, M. A., one of the Secretaries of the British and Foreign Bible Society, who spoke as follows: "That it is both proper and important to encourage Missionary Institutions, may, at this period of their progress, and after our attention has been drawn to such a satisfactory and interesting Report, be assumed as a position which needs no further establishment. If, bowever, it were still thought requisite to re-state the arguments and the motives which bear on this solemn, this delightful subject, one might, in the performance of a task so easy, observe, That we are born and bound to do good"; that the good contemplated by Missionary Institutions is of the most exalted kind, and endures for ever ; that, while prosecuting their objects, we imitate the Apostles, obey the Lord of the Apostles, and move in the train of inspired promises; that a fearfully
large portion of neglected time has already elapsed ; that the soil and wealth already expended have been amply recompensed; and, finally, that pledges with out number are deposited by us, wbich Mahometans and Heathens, and our fet low-Christians, and our consciences, and our Saviour command us to redeem Waving the illustration of these facts, I am induced by the felicitous and mod welcome (but till of late peculiar, if not unparalleled) circumstances which Dot surround me, to offer a few remarks on the intermingling of several religios denominations in the public advocacy of a Missionary Institution bearing to name, and conducted by the members, of one denomination. This growing practice ought, in my humble judgment, to be promoted, to the utmost limit wbicha system of enlightened expediency, and a just reference to our respective ecclesiastical engagements, will allow.
“ Thus, without any unhallowed compromise, we exhibit theological sentiment on a well-graduated scalé, subordinating the less to the greater, and demonstrating that the points respecting which all real Christians differ are not worthy to be compared with those respecting which they cordially agree. Thus, too, we seal a bond which enhances all other obligations to exemplify elsewhere the candos professed within these walls. We virtually say, “Nothing opposite to the terper so sweetly cherished here, shall, as far as we are concerned, escape from the parlour, the pulpit, or the press; if we must occasionally touch a controverted question, we will do it with a gentle band, and whatever may be determined relative to the state of our judgments, there shall be but one opinion relative to the state of our hearts.'
« Our conduct, this day, places an edifying spectacle before carping infidels, and rigid Christians ;---showing the former, that diversified modes of worship and church-government, and clashing interpretations of certain passages contained in the comprehensive, ancient, and partly mysterious books which we call the Bible, comport with substantial union; and reminding the latter, that, when the disciples of the same 'heavenly Teacher associate as far as they can, and sepa. rate only where they must, much more benefit accrues to the common cause than it is possible to fetch out of the perpetual exhibition of Christianity in all the fractional varieties of distinct and often rival communions.
“Nor ought we to forget, that the transactions of Societies at home are made known abroad, and operate as examples there. Let the employers of Missionaries become envious, encroaching, proselyting controversialists; then will Mis sionaries themselves be likely to receive the infection, and transmit it from station to station, and from age to age. Let us, on the contrary, who send forth those self-denying and indefatigable labourers, maintain, in our references and behaviour to each other, frankness, mildness, and magnanimity; then will it be easy, and, I had almost said, necessary, for Missionaries, from whatever district of the universal church they proceed, to invest their mutual intercourse and dealings with the attractive and beneficial charm of these Christian virtues.
* When we come thus peaceably and harmoniously together, we evince a fuller accordance in doctrine than we had previously been aware of; nor can we reasonably doubt, that by the habit of periodically exchanging these friendly visits we shall, in part, anticipate the felicities of that day in which the watchmen of Zion shall see eye to eye, and all invidious partitions be removed, and the communion of saints be realized, as well as spoken of, in every sanctuary throughout the whole extent of the Christian world. Even now we learn, in these new and happy connexions, to supply some defects in our theological education; and, instead of speaking like those who seem resolved to be technical, sectarian, and particular, we are making a hopeful essay towards the adoption of a phraseology pure, catholic, and free, as the spirit by which we trust that these great asserblies are more and more animated.
" Here, I may add, we tender ingenuous congratulations on the occurrence of glorious events which, under the divine blessing, bave resulted from an agency not immediately our own. Many, for example of those who are listening to this address, are not enrolled among the Wesleyan Methodists; but may I not aver, that we all rejoice in what these our esteemed brethren have been enabled to effect, through the medium of that Missionary Institution which they more es pecially support ?
“ Allow me to say, in conclusion, that we may with perfect consistency accept congratulations as well as tender them: for, some of us who belong to other religious denominations are members of the Wesleyan-Methodist Missionary Society;
some will, at least, this day, stand forth, as I have been permitted to do, willingly pleading on behalf of that excellent cause. But whether we bestow money, or make public appeals, or only swell such immense assemblies by our attendance, provided our hearts go with these indications of good will, and all be accompanied with fervent prayers we connect ourselves with the most strenuous efforts and with the most brilliant successes of this society; we become identified with its interests and its honour; we are entitled to say, "These are the triumphs with which it has pleased God to adorn our Society; and we will not cease to exult gratefully in the recollection of having contributed, through such a medium, towards the attainment of an end the noblest that ever awakened the desires of men, or ever employed the energies of God.'
JOHN BACON, ESQ., seconded the Resolution, and spoke as follows:- su
“I beg to apologize for commencing with a personal allusion to myself; but repeated illness lately, and much medicine, have so despoiled me of the few nerves which I once possessed, that, were it not for a promise given, I should plead to be excused, as unfit to address this vast assembly. I thought it best to mention this, in order to secure your indulgence, if I should be obliged to stop short and resume my seat; in which case, I hope you will accept the will for the deed.
“ However, I am happy that in that blessed work, and that glorious contest, in which we are engaged in this day of unexampled Christian exertion, the race is not' exclusively to the swift, nor the battle to the strong. Indeed, on finding that your muster of auxiliary forces to-day included so humble an individual as myself, I conjectured that our worthy commander in the Chair was about, for once, to dispense with the usual mode of warfare, and to try, like GIDEON of old, what he could effect merely with his pitchers and lamps.
“The history of GIDEON, by the by, I have been thinking, is fraught with encouragement for us all in our conflicts, at home and abroad, with the forces of infidelity, superstition, and blasphemy. If the Lord of Hosts be with us, then shall a mere 'cake of barley bread,' tumbling into the hosts of our enemies, smite their tents, and put their army to flight. If this be encouragement for the feeblest instrument among us, with what cheerful confidence may it be said to such an one as our Leader on the present occasion, as the Angel did to GIDEON, 'Go on and prosper' in this transcendently important work, for the Lord is with thee, thou mighty man of valour.'
"This I say, not merely to your Chairman, but to all your Missionaries and Preachers, and to your Society in general; and I say it with double pleasure, as being myself, by education and attachment, a member of the Church of England. .
« Wesleyans, I am aware, are not to be accounted Dissenters; yet there is evidently a shade of distinction between you and us Churchfolks of a more inflexible description,-at least, sufficient to authorize my saying thạt you are, perhaps, of Paul, and we of APOLLOS. Well, Sir, let it be so, I have no doubt, if PAUL had taken the Chair at a Missionary Meeting, (and I am far from being sure that he never did,) the disciples of Arollos, I will answer for it, would very cheerfully have filled up half his platform, and would have joined con amore, in all his motions and resolutions for disseminating the everlasting Gospel, where soever and by whomsoever it might have been preached. And I say, Sir, let a salutary sbame and confusion of face cover that professing Christian who cannot rejoice in the spread of the REDEEMER's kingdom, unless it be effected by means of what he may consider to be his own religious denomination.Not so with our common Lord and Master :- no sectarian spirit contracted the benevolence that glowed within his sacred breast : He came, indeed, to his own: but, as his own received him not, what would have been our condition at the present mo. ment, if he had said, 'From henceforth, as the Jews have no dealings with the Samaritans, neither will I concern myself with the spiritual wants and calamities of the Gentile world?' Does any one complain to us who are Episcopalians in this assembly, and say, in language similar to tbat addressed to Moses, -These Wesleyan Christians are appointing Missionaries, and prophesying in the camp; let us forbid them, for they follow not in all respects with us? I can answer for myself and my brethren of the Church here present, that we should one and all spontaneously exclaim as Moses did, Enviest thou for our sakes? would to GOD that all the LORD's people were prophets, and that he would put his Spirit upon them.'» Vol. VI.
The RIGHT HONOURABLE SIR GEORGE HENRY ROSE, G. C. H., pro posed the Second Resolution :-" That this Meeting solemnly recognises afresh ths claims which the unenlightened millions of the Heathen World possess upon the piety and benevolence of the whole Christian Church; and is also deeply sensible of the necessity and importance of that portion of the Missionary labours of this Society, which is devoted to the moral improvement of the British Colonies, and especially of the Slave-population of the West-Indies." -He said that, for reasons which it would be necessary for him to explain, he bad to address the Meeting as a member of the Established Church, and as a holder of West-India property. Of that Church he was an affectionate, and, he trusted, not unfaithful member; in ber he had lived, and in ber, if reason continued, he believed he should die. Bat, being such, he had felt himself called upon to act in a new and most painful situation, by a solemn and imperative sense of duty, which would appear from the predicament in which he had been placed, and which did not arise from any choice of his own. A small West-India property had come to him by inheritance, and by entail. It brought with it a great burthen on his mind, because it involved a fearful moral responsibility, which had rested deeply upon his heart, for he could not but be most anxious for the spiritual welfare of the negro population on his estate ;-their temporal weal he had ascertained was well provided for. It was his duty to obtain spiritual instruction for those who were thus placed in his hands; and to seek it from those persons who could best communicate it. There was a slight varnish of Popery over a gangrenous mass of heathenism in the negro population of the estate. Under the circumstances of the island, it was not possible for him to obtain assistance from the Church of England, or he should naturally have sought it there. Upon these matters he spoke on authority, though that of others, having never himself been in the West-Indies; for when he came into the possession of this property, he filled a confidential trust from his Sovereign in a foreign land, and, since then, had, with but little exception, been absent from England. He knew something of the hostility of the Planters of the island against certain modes of providing for the religious instruction of the negroes. it was his duty on the one hand to obtain it for them at any rate ; but to select; if possible, the most palatable mode, as that wbich would insure him tbe co-operation of other proprietors, and their agents. Under this impression, he addressed himself, in the first instance, to another respectable sect, but upsuccessfully. In these circumstances he felt that he had no choice but to go, at once, to the Wesleyaos; through whom he sought to benefit the souls of the slaves. He accordingly addressed himself to the Wesleyan Missionary Society; and he spoke it to their honour, that their co-operation was not sought in vain. They most willingly seconded his view's, and were ready labourers in the cause, acting with equal zeal, liberality, disinterestedness, and piety; and under God's blessing they had greatly succeeded. Of two considerable plantations in a large island, the responsibility for which rested considerably on bim, the moral state of the one, where the Missionary had been, was greatly improved ; in the other, on which no Christian instruction had been given, ignorance, dishonesty, deceit, and vice, prevailed to an alarming extent. This discovery pointed out the advantages of moral and religious instruction. On the religious estate the infliction of punishment was gradually diminishing, and thus, in a plantation of two hundred and fifty persons, (one hundred and twenty men, and thirty women,) only ten of the former, and one of the latter, had been punished for objectionable conduct during the preceding year. He was informed by a very sensible and respectable man, that he had the most sanguine hope and conviction, that, in a few years, corporeal punishment would be wholly discontinued, by means of the improvement in the moral and religious character of the negroes; and he felt himself called upon in bonour and fairness to state, that this flourishing condition and important change were almost exclusively, if not exclusively, owing to the labours of the Wesleyan Missionaries. And it had been fully demonstrated to him, that the inferior, but now Christian estate, is become more productive than the other, which still remains pagan.
WILLIAM WILBERFORCE, ESQ., M. P. rose to second the motion of his Right Honourable Friend. He said he should follow his example, by stating at the commencement, that he, likewise, was a member of the Church of England But he made that declaration for the purpose of adding that, in that place, and on that day, he waved all inferior considerations, and would open his arms wide to all his fellow-Christians, engaged in the glorious work for which they were assembled. He came there to lay down those distinctions which were appropriate and peculiar, to take up the common colours, and to march in the ranks of the whole Militant Church, united in this blessed cause. They all knew that, in ancient times, even in the darkest ages of barbarism, mankind sometimes met each other upon this very principle of mutual forbearance. They knew that, in those states of Greece, which were often engaged in warfare with each other, there was a sacred tent, whence there differences were excluded; where a spirit of concord prevailed for a time ; and where they forgot their animosities. If this was the case amidst the darkness of paganism, what shame and reproach would attach to them, if they acted differently in this religious and enlightened country. With pleasure he could divest himself of the little distinctions of party. He seemed, indeed, to rise above them; to breathe a purer air; and to ascend to those higher regions, where all was peace and love.
The Third Resolution," That this Meeling, encouraged by the effects produced wherever Christianity has been faithfully preached, and its institutions of piely and mercy established, and deeply affected with the moral wretchedness of a great part of mankind, offers its grateful acknowledgements to Almighty God, for the success which ke has been pleased already to vouch safe to the exertions of the Society; and solemnly pledges itself to renew its exertions in providing the means of a more extensive ministration of the Gospel of Christ to the religious wants of the human race," -- Was moved by JAMES STEPHEN, ESQ., Master in Chancery. He observed that the man must have a cold heart, and must ill deserve the name of Christian, who could behold such an audience, assembled on such an occasion, without lively emotions of gratitude to God, the autbor of all good.
Among all the charities that abounded in this his native land, none certainly were more interesting, or equally interesting, with those whose object was the diffusion of the glorious light of the Gospel in heathen lands. Compared with all other charities, the difference was as great as that between heaven and hell, as that between eternity and time. But, as “one star differeth from another star in glory;" so one object of Missionary labour may, and does, surpass others of the same general nature. And he must say, that he could have wished to have been called to second the last Resolution, in order that he might have spoken for a few minutes on a sabject introduced by his Right Honourable Friend, (Sir G. Rose,) and further noticed by that exalted Character (MR. WILBERFORCE) who last addressed them ;-a topic most interesting and dear to bis heart;-he meant, the communication of Christian Knowledge, and of the advantages of Christian Worship, to that most degraded part of mankind, -the slaves of the West-India Islands. With him that object of the labours oi this Society had a peculiar interest ; because, while we owe a duty of charity to all, to the Negroes we owe a duty of justice. They have been brought from their own native AFRICA, by means now universally confessed to be unjust; and the only compensation that we can make is to give them that better inheritance, which alone transcends the inestimable blessing of civil freedom.
Another consideration made him feel a lively interest in the Wesleyan Missionary Society. He had watched, from an early period, the growth of that tree, which they had planted. It was his lot. (though without any merit on his part,) to see the introduction of the Gospel by the Wesleyan Connexion among the slaves of the West-Indies, seven or eight and thirty years ago; when their Mis. sionaries first visited the island of St. Christopher's, where he resided for eleven years. He was, one Sunday, attending the Church in the capital of that island; :-(for he also was a member of the Church of England; and their kind friends seemed determined on that day to put forward Members of the Church of England, in order to elicit from the consciences of those, who had beheld the fullest and fairest proofs of their success, a testimony in favour of their cause ;) --and while there he perceived that, present in the Church, and immediately behind himself, were three persons who joined very fervently in the responses of the service, which was no common thing in the West-Indies. The three strangers were dressed in black; and he concluded, from their animated devotions, that they were no ordinary characters. He had not heard of them before. They were the three Missionaries, first sent out by the Wesleyan Missionary Society to
that part of the world; and one of them was that amiable, that pious, that inde#fatigable servant of his Lord and Master, the late Rev. Dr. COKE. These were y the men who came to bring the blessings of the Gospel to the slaves of the West
India Islands. Tbey could not be, as some uninformed persons bed imagined,