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duced the monthly meeting of Hardshaw East, in which Manchester is comprised, to unite with them in advising Isaac Crewdson to suspend his labours as a minister of the gospel.
The question, which before had been the correctness of the Beacon, was thus changed; and the committee now dealt with its author on his nonsubmission to their advice.
The glaring injustice of this proceeding, added to the advice of the Committee, that William Boulton should resign his office of elder, without their bringing any complaint against him, the displacing of the overseers who wished to take the Bible as their rule, and the appointment of others in their place who had approved of a book of infidel tendency written against the Beacon, forced upon many the conviction that a scriptural reformation was not to be expected in the Society of Friends.
A short time before these events, the two companies who met for scriptural instruction united together; and on the 18th of September, 1836, assembled on the Sabbath evenings, at the Infant School Room in Buxtonstreet, Manchester.
In consequence of the proceedings of the yearly meeting's committee, and the monthly meeting, many persons thought they could not any longer conscientiously remain members of the Society of Friends; and twenty-eight persons sent their resignations of membership to the monthly meeting that was held in Manchester, on the 10th of November, 1836; and twentyone more persons sent their resignations to the monthly meeting held in the following month.
In addition to the complaints of injustice in the proceedings before referred to, many of those who resigned their membership expressed disunity with the Society of Friends on the doctrine of universal, inward, saving light; with the defective views of the Society on the doctrine of justification by faith; and on their not admitting
the paramount authority of the Holy Scriptures.
On the forenoon of the Lord's Day, the 13th of November, 1836, about one hundred persons first met for public worship in the infant school room. This meeting was begun with prayer : portions of Scripture from the Old and New Testaments were read. The congregation was afterwards addressed by ministers, and the meeting was closed with prayer.
From that time, meetings of a similar kind were regularly held twice on the Sabbath, and on Friday evening, until the congregation removed from the infant school room to the chapel, which they had erected in Grosvenor Street, Chorlton-upon-Medlock, where they first assembled on the 17th of December, 1837.
To prevent the misappropriation of the chapel, the following clause was inserted in the deed by which the property was conveyed to the trustees :—
"That the Scriptures were given by divine inspiration, and are the revelation of the will of God to man, in all things necessary to his eternal happiness; that they are the rule of faith and practice; and nothing which is not found therein is to be regarded as an article of faith, or as requisite to salvation.
"That God is revealed through the Holy Scriptures in the character of Father, Son, and Holy Ghost.
"That in the Holy Scriptures we are taught, that man fell by sin from the state of holiness in which he was created; that his posterity are born in the same fallen condition; and thus, being by nature prone to evil, and at enmity against God, all the world is guilty before him.
"That all mankind are to be invited to accept the salvation which is freely offered in the Gospel of Christ.
"That the Son of God, by whom the worlds were created, and by whom all things consist, was made flesh, and died upon the cross, a propitiation for the sins of the whole world,--that through his perfect righteousness, and
atoning sacrifice, all who repent and believe in Him are delivered from condemnation; and being justified by faith, are made heirs of eternal life, and receive the gift of the Holy Ghost as the earnest of their inheritance.
"That, being thus made alive unto God by a new creation in Christ Jesus unto good works, the believer delights in the holy law of God, takes the precept of the gospel as his rule of duty, and seeks to grow in grace and in the knowledge of our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ."
On the 7th of January, 1838, the Lord's Supper was first partaken of in the chapel, having been previously taken at the house of Isaac Crewdson; and on the 25th of January, baptism was publicly administered in the chapel, for the first time; though some persons, before this, had been baptised more privately.
The subject of church-fellowship having engaged serious attention, many of the men met to confer thereon; and came to the judgment, that a closer connection of the body in churchmembership would be likely to promote their spiritual advantage.
A meeting of the men and women forming the congregation was convened for deliberation on this question, on the 27th of September, when a few individuals were requested to prepare an outline of the conditions of membership, for the consideration of this meeting.
Nov. 18, 1838, at the close of the worship on the Sabbath forenoon.The following conditions having been approved, after several evening meetings, are confirmed by the congregation now assembled in the chapel for this purpose.
Admission of Members.
That when any person shall intimate a wish to be received into churchfellowship, it will be desirable that he should read the declaration in the deed of conveyance before referred to.
If, after having done so, he shall be desirous of being united in member
ship, enquiry shall be made as to his views of the gospel, and his reasons for hoping that he is a Christian believer.
During the enquiry, it is desirable that the applicant should state the means by which his mind was awakened to a sense of the importance of his eternal interests, and what are the benefits that he expects from becoming a member of this Christian community.
In order to carry into effect these decisions, this meeting concludes, that as the congregation was originally formed by, and now chiefly consists of, those who have left the Society of Friends, and are well known to each other,—all suitable persons of this description, who desire to be united in church-fellowship, should be the first to commence the formation of the church.
Isaac Crewdson and William Boulton are now appointed by the congregation to receive the applications for church-membership of all such persons, during the ensuing week; and to report to the congregation at the close of the forenoon worship, on the next Sabbath, the names of those applicants with whom they can cordially unite in church-fellowship.
When the congregation shall have expressed its concurrence with the report of Isaac Crewdson and William Boulton, their appointment to this service will cease, and the care of receiving all future applications for membership will thenceforth devolve on the church, which will then be formed.
At the close of the forenoon worship, Nov. 25, 1838.-Isaac Crewdson and William Boulton have informed the congregation, that in conformity with the authority given to them on the last Sabbath, they have received applications for Church memberships from the following persons [here follow 25 names],-the congregation now assembled acknowledges them, as forming with Isaac Crewdson and William Boulton, the commencement
of the church in connection with this place of worship.
At a Church Meeting held in the Committee Room, Grosvenor Street.Nov. 26, 1838.-The church having now met for the first time since its formation, after some time spent in mutual exhortation and prayer, the duty of appointing officers for the care and edification of the Church, came under consideration, and it was concluded to meet again on the third day of December, for deliberation on the subject.
At a Church Meeting held in the Committee Room, Grosvenor Street, December 3, 1838.-At the meeting adjourned from November 26th, to consider the appointment of officers for the care and edification of the church, after some deliberation on the subject, it was concluded carefully to examine the New Testament, in order to ascertain what was the practice of the churches in the days of the apostles, deeming it a duty to follow their example as closely as practicable.
It was agreed to meet again at an early day, to confer on the result of this scriptural examination.
December 26th, 1838.-On a deliberate examination of the New Testament on the subject of church offices, we are brought to the conclusion, that in the Church at Jerusalem, in addition to the apostles, there were elders and deacons.
First. Elders [#peoCUTEρol,]-When a dearth was foretold by Agabus, the disciples at Antioch sent relief for the brethren in Judea (Acts xi. 30), "to the elders by the hands of Barnabas and Saul." On the question of circumcision, the brethren at Antioch (Acts xv. 2) "determined that Paul and Barnabas, and certain other of them, should go up to Jerusalem unto the apostles and elders about this question :" (Ver. 4), " And when they were come to Jerusalem, they were received of the Church, and the apostles and elders." (Ver. 6), "And the apostles and elders came together to
consider of this matter." When it was decided that circumcision ought not to be required of the Gentiles. (Ver. 22nd)," Then pleased it the apostles and elders, with the whole church, to send chosen men of their own company with Paul and Barnabas." (Ver. 23d), " And they wrote by them after this manner,―The apostles and elders, and brethren, greeting unto the brethren which are of the Gentiles in Antioch and Syria and Cilicia." (Acts xvi. 4), "And as they (Paul and his companions) went through the cities, they delivered them the decrees for to keep, that were ordained of the apostles and elders which were at Jerusalem." (Acts xxi. 17, 18), "And when we were come to Jerusalem, the brethren received us gladly. And the day following, Paul went in with us unto James, and all the elders were present."
Secondly. Deacons [diákovo.](Acts vi. Ì—6), "And in those days, when the number of the disciples was multiplied, there arose a murmuring of the Grecians against the Hebrews, because their widows were neglected in the daily ministration [diakovía]. Then the twelve called the multitude of the disciples unto them, and said, It is not reason that we should leave the word of God and serve tables, [to serve diaкovεiv]. Wherefore, brethren, look ye out among you seven men of honest report, full of the Holy Ghost and wisdom, whom we may appoint over this business. But we will give ourselves continually to prayer, and to the ministry [diakovia] of the word. And the saying pleased the whole multitude: and they chose Stephen, a man full of faith and of the Holy Ghost, and Philip, &c. Whom they set before the apostles: and when they had prayed, they laid their hands on them.
From the information contained in the New Testament, it appears that the example of the church at Jerusalem was followed in other churches.
First Elders. On the return of
Paul and Barnabas through the cities where they had previously preached the Gospel, it is said (Acts xiv. 23), "And when they had ordained them [χειροτονήσαντες δὲ αὐτοῖς] elders in every church, and had prayed with fasting, they commended them to the Lord, on whom they believed."
As Paul travelled from Macedonia to Jerusalem, it said (Acts xx. 17), "And from Miletus he sent to Ephesus, and called the elders of the Church." (Titus i. 5), "For this cause left I thee in Crete, that thou shouldest set in order the things that are wanting, and ordain [Karaorhons] elders in every city, as I had appointed thee.
Secondly, Deacons in addition to elders. (Phil. i. 1), "Paul and Timotheus, the servants of Jesus Christ, to all the saints in Christ Jesus which are at Philippi, with the bishops and deacons."
And the Apostle Paul in his first Epistle to Timothy (chap. iii. 1-7), describes what ought to be the character of a bishop, and (from ver. 8-13), the character of deacons.
It appears that the word ἐπίσκοπος, is rendered in our English Bibles in some places "bishop," and in other places" overseer;" and that έíσKOTOS, and πρεσβύτερος, (the Greek word for elder) though, not literally synonymous, are both used to express the same office. It is evident, from the following Scripture passages, that the elders were bishops or overseers, and that they are also spoken of as pastors or shepherds.
Titus i. 5-7. "For this cause left I thee in Crete, that thou shouldest ordain elders [πρεσβυτέρους] in every city &c. If any be blameless &c. for a bishop must be [it behoves a bishop to be, deĩ yàp tòv éñíσкoπOV] blameless as the steward of God."
Acts xx. 28.-The Apostle Paul, in his exhortation to the Elders of
Ephesus, says: "Take heed therefore unto yourselves, and to all the flock, over which the Holy Ghost hath
made you overseers [ordained you bishops OεTO ETLOKÓTOUS], to feed ἔθετο ἐπισκόπους], [that is to shepherd, Toμaive] the Church of God."
1 Pet. v. 1-4. "The elders which are among you I exhort, who am also an elder, &c. Feed the flock [shepherd the flock, ποιμάνατε τὸ ποίμνιον] taking the oversight thereof [overseeing or bishoping, LOKOMOŪVTES], ἐπισκοποῦντες], not by constraint but willingly; not for filthy lucre, but of a ready mind; neither as being lords over [overruling KaraкvρIEVOVTES,] God's heritage; but being ensamples to the flock. when the chief Shepherd shall appear [pavepw0évтоÇ Tоv ȧрXITоíμevos, arch[φανερωθέντος τοῦ ἀρχιποίμενος, shepherd], ye shall receive a crown of glory that fadeth not away."
1 Tim. v. 17. "Let the elders that rule well be counted worthy of double honour, especially they who labour in the word and doctrine."
1 Tim. iii. 2. “A bishop [επioкOTOS] must be apt to teach: (ver. 4, 5), one that ruleth well his own house, &c. (for if a man know not how to rule his own house, how shall he take care of the Church of God?)"
As the first deacons we read of were appointed at Jerusalem, to relieve the apostles from the serving of tables, that they might give themselves continually to prayer, and to the ministry of the word, we conclude, that the duty of deacons now is, to relieve the elders or bishops in the care of the secular affairs of the Church.
We say to relieve the elders, because, from the contribution at the time of a dearth from the disciples at Antioch to the brethren which dwelt in Judea, being sent to the elders, it appears that the oversight or superintendence rested on the elders or bishops.
Though the appointment of the Church appears to have laid on the deacons no other duty than that of attending to secular matters, in the church; it is evident that their services were not limited by this appoint
ment, as some of the deacons were also very eminent preachers of the Gospel. As Stephen and Philip; see Acts vi, vii, viii.
Upon deliberate consideration of the evidences which the New Testament furnishes, as to the offices which existed in the Church during the apostolic age, and the practicability of our having similar offices, we deem it right to recognise amongst us, the office of Elders, Bishops or Pastors; and it is concluded to submit, for the confirmation of the next meeting, that Isaac Crewdson, and William Boulton, be acknowledged as the Elders, Bishops or Pastors of this Church.
It is, also, the judgment of the Church, that there are amongst us some suitable to hold the office of Deacons, and it is concluded to propose, at the next meeting, that four individuals be appointed the Deacons of this Church.
At a Church Meeting held in the Committee Room.-Jan. 8, 1839.In considering the conclusion of the last meeting, as to the propriety of appointing Elders, or Bishops or Pastors, we cannot but mark the hand of Divine Providence, in the position which has now, for more than two years, been occupied by our dear friends Isaac Crewdson, and William Boulton, as the Overseers and Shepherds of the congregation assembling in this chapel, and in conformity with what we regard as the appointment of the great Head of the Church, we solemnly recognise them as the Bishops, Elders or Pastors of this church, and with feelings of love and Christian fellowship, we make this record of their being thus placed over us in the Lord.
On a careful examination of the
New Testament, on the question of the appointment of Elders, we do not find any record as to the mode of their ordination, but in Acts xiv. 23, it is written" And when they had ordained them elders in every church, and had prayed with fasting, they commended them to the Lord, on whom they believed." We find that the word here translated ordained, and in 2 Cor. viii. 19 chosen, is xεpotovýσaves; which gives the idea of putting out the hands, and may be intended to express the mode by which the Elders were chosen or appointed by the church then assembled.
We find but one instance recorded in the New Testament, as to the mode that was used in the appointment of Deacons when the seven were chosen by the Church at Jerusalem (Acts vi. 5, 6), and they chose Stephen, &c. whom they set before the apostles: and when they had prayed, they laid their hands on them." The words here rendered, "laid hands on," are πθηκαν τὰς χεῖρας; which occur in many other places, and convey the idea of hands being put upon the persons selected; but it is not plain in this place, whether the hands of the apostles or of others are meant.
As we find no other instance of the manner in which Deacons were appointed, and there is a total absence of any direction on the subject, we conclude at the present to appoint deacons, by making a record of their having been chosen by the church ** * * ** and ** (four persons), having been severally chosen to fill this office, and having been commended by prayer to the grace of God, they are hereby appointed the Deacons of this Church.