« PreviousContinue »
PUBLIC MEETINGS DI'RING THE
A series of resolutions were therefore proposed, having for their object the appointment of a committee to obtain subscriptions in aid of this important labour. Mr. E. J. Broadfield, by whom the subject was introduced, was appointed the Secretary, and Rev. J. Hyde the Treasurer of the Committee which was appointed. Many of the members of Conference, of the visitors who were present, and of the members of the Derby Society, liberally responded to this appeal, and before the close of the Conference upwards of £200 was subscribed. It remains for other members of the Church to continue and complete this good work.
One of the most difficult of the questions submitted to the Conference is the question of change in any of its books of worship. A growing desire to see a revised edition of the Hymn Book and Liturgy has for some time existed with many influential members of the Church. A committee appointed by Conference has prepared hymns for a supplement, but after considering the whole subject, reported in favour of an insertion of new hymns in the Hymn Book, and the omission of some of those already published in that compilation. To this course strong objections were felt, and it was resolved to refer the entire subject to the several societies, who are desired to express their opinion respecting it.
The only other subject on which we need offer any remark is the funds of the Conference. All these seem to be in a healthy state, except the General Fund which is totally inadequate to the wants of the Conference. It was proposed to charge a percentage on all the funds left to the Conference for the support of this fund, but was in the end resolved to appeal to the several societies and institutions benefited by the Conference trusts. It is manifest that unless the General Fund be supported by the Church, the Conference can neither pay its officers, provide for the printing of its minutes, or efficiently discharge the many other duties required of it. The attention of the societies, therefore, to this subject is most important.
The minutes, if not already, will in a very short time be issued, so that the information they contain will be soon placed within the reach of our readers.
Tuesday. The first of these assemblies was the public religious service on Tuesday evening. The annual sermon to the Conference was preached by the Rev. R. Storry to a numerous and attentive audience. This discourse will be published in a future number of the Magazine. At the close of this service, the Sacrament of the Holy Supper was administered by the President and Vice-President to ninety communicants. The offertory at this service is dovoted to the “ Pension Fund.”
Wednesday—Melbourne.--As usual, on the holding of the Conference at Derby, the members received a pressing invitation to pay a visit to the neighbouring society at Melbourne. The afternoon and evening of Wednesday was devoted to this purpose. To enable the members to remain for an evening meeting, covered vans were engaged for their conveyance. Nearly all the members accepted the invitation so kindly given, and attended in company with many of the friends from Derby. Tea was provided in a large public hall, which was completely filled. In the evening the party assembled in the elegant church erected in this town for the use of the society. The chair was occupied by the Rev. E. Madeley, whose long connection with the society enabled him to speak on its early history and associations. A subject intended to guide the thoughts of the various speakers was proposed and led to a number of pleasant and instructive addresses by the several ministers who were in attendance. These all related to the advantages and privileges of the Church, and were calculated to encourage and strengthen the band of worshippers in their work of establishing the Church and extending its usefulness. Few of the members of Conference had previously visited the society, and all were charmed with the beautiful church possessed by the society, and with the manifest zeal and affection of its members. The visit seemed to be very warmly appreciated, and we hope will strengthen the church in Melbourne in their work in this town.
Thursday-Conferenee Tea Party.-A public tea-meeting was held in the Lecture Hall, which was attended by the members of Conference and by a large number of the members of the church in Derby, Melbourne and other places—the large hall being nearly filled with an intelligent and deeply interested audience. The chair was occupied by the President of the Conference, who introduced the proceed ings by stating the object of the meeting, and dwelling upon the exalted character of the New Church, and the duty of earnest and faithful labour on the part of every sincere receiver of her doctrines. On the platform were Dr. Towle of Washington in the United States, Mr Hancock of Toronto in Canada, and many of the ministers and influential laymen of the Church. Interesting and instructive addresses were delivered at this meeting by Revs. E. D. Rendell, E. Madeley, W. Woodman, Dr. Bayley, J. Hyde, by Messrs Bateman, Goldsack, Broadfield, T. Madeley, and by Dr. Towle and Mr Hancock. The proceedings were also enlivened by some pleasing selections of music, which were executed in a very superior style. We give very brief abstracts of the speeches of our brethren from the other side the Atlantic.
Dr. Towle of Washington, after relating some of his experiences in connection with the New Church in the United States, and stating some of the reasons why the New Church made greater progress in America than in any other part of the globe ; went on to say that since the new doctrine took root in the soil of America many wonderful discoveries had been made, and many useful inventions had come into use. A short time ago it took three months to get a communication from America, instead of receiving one as we do now in a single hour. Such improvements as this are evidence of the influence for good which are at work in the spiritual world ; for all progress has its origin there. The Dr. went on to say that the New Church in America has undergone some experiences which would be useful to the Church in England. When he first became a New Church mam, about thirty years ago, there were but three or four churches in America. About a dozen years since they had a good many endowed churches, which were nursed by those who had the charge of them with great
care. It was found, however, that un. endowed societies became more prosperous, and got far ahead of endowed churches. We have now, said the Dr., disendowed all the churches that were endowed, and have greater hopes of real usefulness from one hearty and earnest New Churchman than from a body of members who are dependent upon an endowed church.
Mr Hancock of Canada said he wished to express that he cordially reciprocated the warm affections with which he had been received by the New Church friends in England. Although he had been absent from England for fourteen years, the best part of him was here yet. The pleasure he felt in being with them was tinged with melancholy, as there was not a few whom he would no more see in the flesh, as they had passed into the spiritual world. He then related his experience in connection with the New Church in Canada, which, he said, did not prosper in that part of the British dominions as he could wish, but where, said he, does it so prosper? We all wish to see great things done, but perhaps it would be better for us not to be over-sanguine. When he arrived in Canada he went to Waterbrook to see the condition of the societies there. He found a prosperous society, consisting chiefly of Germans. There were other societies farther west, all working very hard for the great cause which we have so much at heart. A short time after he had taken up his residence in that part of Canada they formed an association of the New Church societies, in which work he was chiefly instrumental. That organization has continued to the present time. With respect to the New Church in Canada he only spoke generally. The Church is making progress, and its members are zealous and increasing. The fact appeared to him that the strong elements in the New Church is the German element. In comparison with other denominations the receivers of the heavenly doctrines were very few. But he was accustomed to the day of small things, and had great faith in the divine promise, that where two or three gathered together in the name of Jesus Christ His blessing would rest upon them.
Friday. - Ordination of Mr. John Presland into the Ministry of the New Church.—Mr. Presland, who has for ness. When this is attained, then the soul knows that the Lord reigneth.
This service was not so numerously attended as some of the former, many members of the Conference, and some also of the Society at Derby, having made other engagements for the same evening. Those who were present were much interested in the solemn service, and many expressed their congratulations to the newly-ordained minister, and their warm desires for the success of his labours.
SWEDENBORG MSS. AND BIOGRAPHICAL
upwards of two years held the office of leader to the Derby Society, was presented to the Conference for ordination. His ability as a preacher of the heavenly doctrines, combined with the excellency of his moral and religious character, and the esteem in which he is held as an exemplary Christian minister, led to a unanimous compliance with the application for his ordination. The Society at Derby were desirous that the rite should be administered during the sitting of the Conference, and Friday evening was set apart for this service. At the time appointed Mr. Presland, accompanied by four of the members of the Society, was presented to the ordaining ministers, Revs. J. Bay. ley and E. Madeley, who officiated on the occasion. At the close of the service a sermon was delivered by Dr. Bayley from Isa. lii. 7, 8. In tắe introduction to his sermon the preacher described the order and preliminary steps adopted for the selection and admission of suitable persons into the ministry of the New Church. Referring to the newly-ordained minister, he spoke in high terms of his gifts for the office into which he had been introduced, and of the excellency of his character as the exemplary son and grandson of esteemed New Church parents. In the exposition of his text the preacher gave an eloquent description of the coming of the Lord for the redemption and salvation of His children, and presented Him as the model minister. The Lord still comes to the Church. He comes with an innumerable company of angels, and in the ministry which is sent to publish good tidings and to publish peace. He appears on the mountains of His love, and all His ministers are to be actuated by the motives which spring from love to Him and to the souls of His children. The peace which they are to publish is the result of spiritual conflict, and is the only way in which all the faculties can enjoy peace. They are to publish good tidings of good, for goodness is the enibodiment of love, and in goodness is all sweetness, all happiness, and heaven. They are to publish salvation. Every soul has a dark chamber, and there is neither peace nor goodness while evil is within. The people are to be taught not to rest satisfied with knowledge, or with anything but good
The following is a list of the subscriptions obtained during the sitting of Conference, for the above praiseworthy and most desirable object :-Mr. Broadfield, . . £25 0 0
Speirs, . . . 25 0 0
R. Gunton, .
E. D. Rendell, · W. Bruce,
John Presland, .
0 0 Mr. Butter, .
10 0 0 » C. W. Smith,
2 0 0 ,, De Faye, . .
5 0 0 Mrs. Wilkinson,
5 0 0 Mr. John Smith, . . 1 0 0 ,, John Barton, .
1 0 0 ,, Atkinson (Leeds), 1 0 0 Benton, .
2 0 0 Thos. Madeley . . 1 0 0 » John Deans .
1 0 0 ,, Thomas Stevenson, .
5 0 0 Appelbee,
1 0 0
2 0 0 Clemson,
1 0 0 £219 1 0
Italy.—To the following letter, addressed to the President of the Conference, we have already referred to in our notice of the Conference proceedings. We insert it in the hope of interesting our readers on the subject to which it refers :
Lausanne, Switzerland, June 1869. SIR, -As a disciple of the Lord's New Church I deem it my duty to send you some brief hints on the new state of things now existing in Italy with regard to the religious question. You, my dear sir, will judge whether what I am about to say will or will not be in
teresting to the disciples of the New · Jerusalem.
If this communication may serve to awaken among the brethren who shall assemble in the approaching Conference some little sympathy for my native land, I do not doubt that you will have it read in one of your sittings.
The Italian nation consists, on a fair estimate, of about thirty millions of souls. The political convulsions of 1859 and 1860 have had the effect of uniting, thus far, twenty-six millions of those in a single constitutional kingdom, endowed with all the franchises and liberties that could be reasonably wished for by my countrymen. It is true that the first article of the constitution declares Roman Catholicism the religion of the state ; but the explanation officially given to it by the King's ministers interprets it as meaning only that the Government is to make use, in all public solemnities, of the Roman Catholic ritual.
Italy therefore enjoys, at the present moment, the inestimable advantage of a complete liberty of conscience, supported by the most important civil reforms—such as the suppression of the monastic corporations, the abolition of all the immunities and exemptions which the Catholic priests inherited, to the misfortune of the country, from past ages, the institution of civil marriage, and the confiscation of the ecclesiastical property, which last measure has had the effect of taking immense wealth out of the hands of the clergy.
These necessary and timely reforms have shaken the authority and weakened the influence of Catholicism in Italy. To say that they have put it on
an equality before the law, is to say, in effect, that they have ruined it.
In fact, in the conditions in which, for the first time in the whole course of its history Italy now finds itself, before that free development of intelligence and instruction which is spreading on every hand, the perverted, dark, absurd system of Catholicism could not possibly maintain itself. In fact, it has found itself exposed to an ever-increasing desertion of its adherents. Any one who took the trouble of considering how many of those he is acquainted with in Italy are really, and not in name only, Catholics, is forced to conclude either that Catholicism has almost died out among cultivated classes, or else that those for whom it still lives are induced, by the general feeling against it, to dissemble their faith. If we leave out of view a few cases, some of which constitute honourable exceptions, Catholicism has no longer any adherents except among this less informed portion of the people, where the sway of ignorance is unbroken, there only its faith is intact, and the priest reigns. Habit, no doubt, asserts its power even against a certain degree of cultivation, and maintains even in cities some appearances which might lead one to suppose that the case was otherwise ; but, under material and external practices, there seldom lives that efficacious faith which serves as a guide to action. Whence, on the whole, there presents itself, in my native land, this undeniable fact, that Catholicism is disappearing before the advance of civilization, while it finds its account in ignorance, and flourishes only under its protection.
The political events of our epoch certainly have contributed not a little to hasten in Italy the ruin of Catholicism. As the Catholic Church rose against the whole nation, opposing in all possible ways its most righteous and heartfelt desire of achieving the independence and liberty of the land, it is not to be wondered at that the Italians should have confounded it with their enemies. From the time that Rome cursed Italy because it had resolved to put an end to its calamity, the Italian people involved in the same sentence the Catholic Church and the Austrians, both of whom it saw united in the same plot against its interests, and the aversion to the Church of Rome increased in the same degree as she showed herself unworthy of veneration by sacrificing her proper functions to the interests of her domination. The natural course of civilization which one day or other would have brought us to the same point, was therefore hastened in its results by her imprudence.
We have therefore in Italy more than a schism ; we have a religion which is disappearing, leaving behind it indifference. But while Catholicism disappears before civilization, civilization itself advances slowly and with difficulty, because the support and vigour of a true faith is wanting to it. The strongest spring of action in the soul thus failing, there has resulted a void, an apathy, a discouragement, that impairs and exhausts all activity, and unnerves and dissolves all efficient and persevering effort. Hence a confusion of principles, a hesitation of purpose, a debility, a languor, which come out in the actions of practical and daily life, together with the irresistible domination of everything material and palpable over the more noble and elevated ideas of the moral nature.
There exists therefore at this time in Italy a real and urgent need of religion.
The political changes of 1860 appeared so favourable to a serious move. ment of religious reform among the Italians, that some persons did not hesitate to predict it. Nor, in truth, were there wanting favourable prog. nostics of the desired change. There was, in the first place, the general predisposition in its favour, next the activity and zeal of various Protestant associations in establishing in every considerable city a missionary centre, and then again the constant appearance of new journals of religious controversy, the success of books that at any other time could have found but few readers, and finally the sale of several millions of Bibles in the cities, as also in the villages and the country. But a few years of sterile agitation, in which I myself took a very active part, have sufficed to force on us the conviction that Protestantism, like Catholicism, is an anachronism, impossible in the order of the Divine Providence, and therefore incapable of reviving the re
ligious sentiment of the nineteenth century.
The Italians long for a religion based on good sense and morality, one that should minister food at once to the understanding and the heart, a religion that shall be a feeling and a science, a feeling to strengthen the hopes of the heart, and a science to prove the truth of those hopes. They desire, in fine, a religion in harmony with the new state of society, and one that shall work hand and hand with reason and with science instead of excluding them from its domain. This is what the Italians are looking for ; this is their most urgent need.
When I knew and received with joy the theological and philosophical doctrines of Swedenborg, my heart was filled with admiration and gratitude to the Lord, as I observed how the Divine Providence, at every great epoch of moral regeneration, dispenses to humanity a higher degree of light, according to the necessities and the culture of the times. The doctrines of the New Jerusalem bear in themselves the proof of their heavenly origin, inasmuch as they open to the human mind a new, a marvellous and immense horizon. These, then, are the only doctrines which can satisfy the reasonable requirements of my countrymen, and heal in Italy the greatest sore in the social body.
Firm in this conviction, 1 deeply desire to devote my feeble efforts to the work of diffusing them. And nothing but the want of the necessary means has hitherto prevented me from setting about it. Now, however, I cherish the hope that, by means of the aid and contributions of the body over which you, my dear sir, preside, the heavenly doctrines of the Lord's Second Coming will be speedily published in Italy.
With the most profound respect, I remain, &c., LORETO Scocia.
TRINIDAD. The following painfully interesting letters, sent to the General Conference, are forwarded us for publication. The benign spirit of Christian charity which is slowly making itself felt in most Christian communities, finds little place where the papacy has uncontrolled dominion. Her hostility to religious freedom and to liberty of thought is still the same. Her hatred of the truth