Imágenes de página

they had paid him, more to their partiality, than to any merit on his part, and he sincerely thanked them for their warm expressions of kindness and approbation. He trusted he inight say without vanity, that whenever civil and religious liberty had been called into question, he was found at his post (cheers). He was probably indebted to incidents which had occurred to him in early life, for the sentiinents he now held, and for the conduct he had pursued. Wien a boy, he was sent to a school, where he was the oniy Dissenter amongst the scholars, and his uncle was the only man in the place who was opposed to the American war. Consequently he (Mr. Shepherd) was abused and scouted by all his school-fellows as a Presbyterian rebel. He was glad of it ; for it made hiin firm and resolute in the cause of truth; and it led him to inquire early, and caused him to embrace the opinions he now professed. He was not sorry for what he had done; for he had lived to see in this kingdom and the world at large, men whom it was an honour to resemble, do many things which he himself had advocated from a child. He had seen the United States of America assert their liberty, and establish a Republican Government; he had seen liberty transplanted from that country into France, which she now enjoyed, since the Revolution, under a limited monarchy, ir.stead of a despotic Government. He bat seen the blacks in St. Domingo obtain their manumission; and whatever might be said in the House of Commons by Messrs Buxton, Wilberforce, or Canning, he looked to St. Domingo as the cloud whence the lightning shull blast and annihilale slavery and oppression! He had seen the South American States break the chains of their oppressors, and assert the rights of free-born

In England, a great revolution had taken place in the minds of men since 1792 and 3. At that time it was not safe for a man of liberal sentiments to walk the streets. He had been pelted in the cets of Bolton, as a Presbyterian and a Jacobin; (much laughter) but now he could walk in perfect safety, and the improvement in liberal principles was so great, that if a Public Meeting were called in the Town, upon a subject of civil or religious liberty, he believed the majority would be found in its favour. Manchester was also much iinproved. They had lately a Petition for Parliamentary Reforın, which, some years since, would have been thought to have threatened the overthrow of Church and State. Many persons, in consequence of publicly maintaining their opinions, had on different occasions suffered severely in their lives and property. He was happy, however, to say of himself, that, excepting the pelting in the streets of the good town of Bolton, he had suffered no personal incon. venience. He would recommend all, at their outset in life, to acquire decision of character, and strength of principle; for when their opponents saw them firm and undaunted, they would be less inclined to meddle with them. They would soon learn to their cost, that if they struck hard, they would be struck hard in return. In his own neighbourhood, he had the pleasure of living upon good terms with his opponents-he had lately foraged in the enemies' camp, and found it better furnished than our own. He was very sanguine in the cause for which they then met; and whilst his strength remained, his exertions should not cease. He, however, found bis strength gradually declining ;but contrary to the experience of many, with him it revived at the proceedings of such meetings as the present. It was a source of continual pleasure for him to know, that when his exertions should be withdrawn by the resistless hand of time, his place would be supplied by persons better calculated than himself to advance the great cause. Mr. Shepherd concluded by saying, that he was compelled to leave the Chair immediately, as his necessary avocations called him away from the Town.


At the conclusion of the Meeting, a hymn was sung and a prayer delivered, and the assembly retired to meet again at the Moor-Lane Chapel.

On Tuesday, about 100 of the Sunday-school scholars, with their teachers, sat down to dinner. When the cloth was removed, the President, the Rev. ROBERT CREE, of Preston, proposed the following sentiment, which be prefaced with a few observations—"Success to the cause of the general Education of the Poor.”-The children were then addressed by Mr. MAKIN, Mr. Finch, of Liverpool, and Mr. HEYWOOD, the superintendent;

in the course of which, the object and tendency of Sunday-schools were dwelt upon, and the children exhorted to pursue that course of life most acceptable to their Creator, by emulating every virtuous action, and by being kind and charita ble to each other, and consistent in their conduct as rational creatures. Mr. Cree eulogized in high terms Mechanics’ Institutions, and proposed a toast, wishing them success. After which, a hymn was sung, a benediction given by the Chairman, and the Meeting broke up.

The Annual Meeting of the Unitarian Congregations of Rochdale, Neuchurch in Rossendale, Todmorden, Padiham, &c., will be held this year in Rochdale, on Friday in Whitsun week. The Rev. Noah Jones, of Todmorden, and the Rev. J. Beard, of Green-gate, Salford, have promised to preach on the occasion. Services will commence at 10 o'clock in the Morning and at 6 in the Evening. There will be a dinner provided at the Wellington Iun for the Friends of the Association, price le. 9d.


CORRESPONDENCE. Communications have been received from Messrs. Latham, Ketley, and Cundill; and from R. J.P.; J. C.; J. M; and A. H.

Mr. Wright's second Letter to the Unitarians in the North, East District, in the next Number.



MAY, 1826.

[Vol. XII.

· Letters from the Rev. R. Wright, to the Unitarians in

the North-east District.


Trowbridge, April 11, !826. My CHRISTIAN BRETHREN, In reminding you of the things which you have been taught, and attempting to excite you to an increase of zeal aud to persevering exertions in the great cause of pure and primitive Christianity, it appears to me essentially, and above all things, necessary to call your attention, in the first place, to what relates to yourselves individually, to the state of your minds, your own spirit and conduct, and the progress each of you is making in the good ways of God. The Apostolic exhortation, “ Look to yourselves," is highly important, but too much neglected. It is easy for persons to see defects and failings in others ; they are ready enough to censure the faults of their brethren, and can complain of the want of zeal and exertion in those around them ; but, alas ! they are too apt to forget themselves, to overlook their own failings and defects, to palliate their own faults, and increase the general want of zeal and exertion by their own lukewarmness and indifference. It ought ever to be kept in view that Christianity is a personal and spiritual religion, that it relates to men as individuals, has its seat in the understanding and the heart, and extends to the whole character and conduct. There can be no true and genuine Christianity actually existing in life and practice, any further than individuals become real Christians, by understanding the gospel, abiding under its influence, and obeying it from the heart. There can be no zeal in the cause of Christ, any further than individuals become zealous ; nor any exertions to promote it any

further than individuals exert themselves, either singly or unitedly. Christian churches being aggregates of individual Christians, there can be no more information, or piety, or virtue, or love, or zeal, in any church, than the individuals who compose it possess and bring into it. The want of knowledge, purity and zeal, in any church, must arise



from the deficiency of the individuals who are its members in knowledge, purity, and zeal. It follows from these considerations, that the way to remove the evils which exist in churches, is by effecting the reformation and improvement of the individuals who compose and that for such individuals to become zealous, and rouse them- ! selves to more exertion, is the way to produce an increase of zeal and exertion in the churches. It is useless for any of you, diy brethren, to lawent the defects, the lukewarmness and indifference, and the want of zeal and proper exertions which exist in any of your churches, if you do not use all the means in your power to remove these evils : and in doing this you must begin with yourselves. If there be a beam in thine own eye, thou must first cast it ont before thou canst hope to cast out the mote out of thy brother's eye; thou must reform what is amişs in thyself, before thou canst hope for success in attempting the reformation of others. If you be deficient in zeal, and neglect to make the exertions in the great cause which you are capable of making, how can you complain of the want of zeal and exertion in others ? By becoming wore zealous, and increasing your exertions, you will not only add to the zeal already existing in your churches, and the exertions already made; you will stimulate the zeal and exertions of others by your example, and help to kindle and vivify the sacred flame, which may spread from breast to breast, until a holy ardour in the glorious cause is felt throughout your churches.

It can hardly be expected that persons should feel much interest, or be inspired with much zeal, in the holy cause of genuine Christianity, unless they clearly understand it, are deeply impressed with its value and importance, lixe under its influence, and experience its happy effects. The tree must be made good before the fruit will be good. The heart must be right with God; the mind must be iwbred with the principles and spirit of the gospel; a devout frame must be produced, and an habitual regard to God excited, in order to a steady flame of enlightened zeal being raised, which will be tempered by charity and guided by knowledge, and will produce those benevolent and unwearied, exertions in the cause of truth and righteousyess which will do honour to religion, glorify God, and enlighten and bless mankind. It is only as, by the diligent use of all Christian means, and by carefully watching over yourselves,

you are preserved from the pollutions of the world, from sensuality and vice, and continue habitually pious, and under the holy influence of the doctrines you profess, that you can be expected to remain lively Christians, and zeaions in the cause of pure religion,

On the grounds already stated, let ine, my brethren, exhort you to look to yourselves individually, to examine the state of your own minds, and to consider your ways. 1. Are you continuing steadfast and diligent in your attention to the word of life; seeking daily to attain the further kuowledge of it, to have it dwelling in you richly, and to abide under its influence? It is by this word that you are to live as Christians; this is the flesh of Christ which you are to eat, that you may live by the faith of the Son of God. As it is a source of life to you, it is to be a principle of life and action in you, and the rule by which you are to live. If you are neglecting this word, letting it slip from your ininds, (figuratively speaking) ceasing to feed on it daily, no marvel that you become barren and unfruitful, that your zeal declines, and your love waxes cold. If unhappily this be the case, O! look back to the time when you received the word with all readiness of mind, and searched the Scriptures daily, when you regarded the doctrine you profess as a pearl of great price, and rejoiced in the knowledge of it. Let your attention to divine truth be excited afresh, still seek to increase in the knowledge of it, meditate upon it daily; it will still quicken your souls, and give you joy and strength.

2. Are you cherishing a sense of the high authority and inestimable value of the sacred word, as it came from God, is the word of your salvation, and the record of eternal life; and seeking to have your faith strengthened by a frequent recurrence to the evidences of the divine origin and truth of the gospel? If through neglecting this, you suffer your faith to be weakened, and sceptical thoughts and feelings to steal upon you, the interest you feel in Christianity will be diminished, and your zeal will be lost in supineness; and O! consider how great will be your loss of comfort and of moral strength !

3. Are your hearts right with God? Do you enjoy peace with him through our Lord Jesus Christ ? Do you love God supremely? Is it your delight to worship and serve him?

Is it your ardent desire to know and do his righteous will ? Are you conscious of your uprightness in

« AnteriorContinuar »