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THURSDAY, MAY 14th.-THE ANNUAL MEETING.
THE Fifty-seventh Anniversary of the London Missionary Society took place on Thursday last, at Exeter Hall. The Chair was taken at ten o'clock, by S. M. Peto, Esq., M.P. On the platform were the following gentlemen :-Jas. Kershaw, Esq., M.P.; J. A. Hardcastle, Esq., M.P.; Hon. and Rev. B. W. Noel; Rev. J. A. James, Rev. T. Binney; Rev. Drs. Campbell, Morison, and Henderson; Rev. T. Adkins, Revs. James and Thos. Stratten, Rev. J. Stoughton, G. Hitchcock, Esq., J. Fairbairn, Esq., of Cape Town, &c. &c. &c. The meeting was opened by the singing of the 8th Hymn in the Missionary Hymn Book.
The Rev. JOHN STOUGHTON offered prayer on behalf of the Assembly.
The Chairman said: Dear Christian friends,—An invitation from your Directory to me, as a private Christian, would have been esteemed by me an honour in presiding over this meeting; but I cannot divest myself, on this occasion, of my official position as one of the Treasurers of the Baptist Missionary Society—and in that light I not only esteem the invitation an honour, but a gratification which I can scarcely express, inasmuch as I take it that your Directory, by this invitation, and you, by the kindness of your reception, mean to express that hearty love and affectionate attachment which I trust will ever subsist between the two Societies. That it has subsisted during the period of my Treasurership, I have the greatest possible pleasure in expressing to you; and I believe, without undervaluing any other evangelical alliance, that there is no alliance of an evangelical character so truly fraught with good, as that in which Christians of different denominations delight to unite, when they have before them in contemplation the heathen world in darkness, and forget those minor differences in themselves, which in the light of eternity will never appear. And this alliance, too, is of a practical character-not only in carrying out, as Christian men and women, that aspiration of the Divine Redeemer, "That they, O Father, may be one, even as we are one;" but we are, in our aspect of brother-Christians, preaching to the heathen world, taking that attitude which, as Christian men and followers of the Divine Redeemer, it becomes us at all times to take. We are to-day, on the Fifty-seventh Anniversary of your Society, met together, and it will be your lot to hear of the great things that God has accomplished through its instrumentality; and though there yet exists, to a large extent, that "abomination which maketh desolate," yet still we have much to thank God for, and to induce us to take courage, and to persevere for the future. Let us, for a moment, look back at India. What has been the result of Missions in that important field? Although, at the present time, there are large cities, with half a million of inhabitants, and with but one Missionary, isolated and alone, pursuing his onward path; yet, such has been the effect of Missions in that country, and, with the Missionary work, the propagation of the blessed Scriptures, that at the present moment the chain of caste is effectually shaken. And when I refer to the fact, that in India, during the last year, the most entire and perfect civil and religious liberty has been given by our Government, I hope it will show that the Missionary field has prepared the road for the reception of that which, fifty-seven years since, our fathers dared not contemplate. But, then, has it done nothing more? Do you suppose that, if there had been no Missionary in India, there would at the present moment be no Sutteeism there? The fact that a custom by which a multitude of widows perished annually on the funereal pile, together with infanticide, has been abolished, though only amongst the fruits that Christianity casts, as it were, along its path, is enough to show the world at large that Christian Missions have been blessed by our Divine Master,-that, while we have been obeying His injunction to us, to preach the gospel throughout all the world, He, too, has been giving us His attendant blessing, and has shown that He has been with us throughout our work. Then, Christian friends, is the abolition of Slavery nothing? Do you suppose that Slavery would at the present moment have been a thing unknown in our West India Islands, if Smith, of Demerara, and Knibb, and others, had never lived? No; the Christian Missionary was the pioneer in the glorious path
which led to a great national protest against the hated and accursed system of slavery. Then, Christian friends, look at the Islands of the South Sea. See what has been accomplished, under the blessing of God, through the instrumentality of the Society there. Look at Southern Africa; you will hear to-day what has been accomplished. Oh, God has been faithful to His promises! It remains for us to know the extent of our obligation and duty, and to act up to our responsibility. There is another aspect, Christian friends, which at the present moment is truly interesting, and is a great call to us for additional exertions. Look at every part of the world, and see how the various means of inter-communication between distant countries have increased within the last fifty years. Although, as Nonconformists, we feel how delicate a matter it is to interfere in political matters, yet there may be a time and a place in which interference in such things becomes as much a duty in the Christian, as prayers to Almighty God. My dear Christian friends, we are engaged in a great, a glorious, and a blessed work. Let us not shrink, let us not falter, but let us pursue our work with prayer, with humility, with devoted and earnest attention. Be assured, that if this is the case, the blessing of God will abundantly rest on your Missions. Let us, as I said before, cultivate with each other that loving spirit and Christian intercourse which will make us, if we remember our difficulties at all, remember them to incite us to an increased love on other accounts for each other. And then, dear Christian friends, let us feel, in respect to this great and glorious work, that we must not only do something, but must do it with all our might.
"An angel's wing would droop if long at rest,
And God Himself, inactive, be no longer blest."
I must now call upon our friend, Dr. Tidman, to read the Report;-earnestly expressing, before I sit down, my hearty and affectionate desire that the God of Missions may this day be with us; that we may be conscious of His presence in our midst; that our meeting may be eminently devotional, eminently practical; that we may have occasion to recollect that this was a hallowed season, and that we had a conscious feeling that while we were engaged in the promotion of His work, the God of Jacob and of Missions was himself in our midst.
The Rev. Dr. TIDMAN, Foreign Secretary, then read the following abstract of the Report for the past year, as follows:
The Directors of the London Missionary Society, in closing their official duties for another year-the Fifty-seventh of its existence-are happy in being able to present to their constituents a record of its continued operations, calculated to awaken joy, and to inspire thankfulness to Him who has watched over its extended interests, and honoured its varied labours with many decisive proofs of His divine approval.
The Directors cannot, indeed, present a statement exempt from every occasion of regret and disappointment; and with every reflecting friend of Missions, the attempt would only subject their fidelity to suspicion. It cannot justly excite surprise, that among a band of European Agents amounting to nearly two hundred, notwithstanding the utmost judgment and care in their selection, there should occasionally be found an individual who on trial proves deficient in mental or moral qualifications for the arduous and self-denying duties of a Missionary, and ready therefore, on the first inducement, to abandon the work. But although it must be deeply regretted that, in a single instance, any portion of the funds, derived, to some extent, from the hard-earned offerings of the poor, should be expended on Agents incompetent or disqualified, yet such occurrences are happily very infrequent, and form but rare exceptions to the intelligence, fidelity, and entire devotedness which distinguish the Missionaries of this as well as kindred in titutions, and which entitle them to the highest confidence of the Directors, and the love and admiration of the British Churches.
It is an occasion for special gratitude to God, that of the one hundred and seventy Missionary brethren consecrated to the service of this Society, two only have died during the past year, the Rev. Christopher Sass, of Theopolis, South Africa, who was called to his rest at
the advanced age of seventy-five; and the Rev. J. C. Thompson, of Quilon, after twenty-three years of labour in Southern India. Mrs. Coles, also, of Bellary, and Mrs. Milne, of Jamaica, have been removed by death.
Since the last Anniversary, three Missionaries, from various causes, have returned home; but the Rev. Alfred Corbold, and the Rev. F. Baylis, have gone forth to India, and the Rev. George Hall to Jamaica: so that the number of labourers remains undiminished; and within the present year, six others, it is hoped, will enter on their embassy of mercy to the heathen. The income of the Society, derived from ordinary sources, amounts to £63,174 8s. Od. The amount of Legacies included in the above is £3708 8s. 11d., being less than that of 1850, by £507 18. Id.
The Contributions from Missionary Stations, included also, are £12,865 10s. 3d., an amount exceeding that of last year, by £1829 9s. 9d.
The aggregate increase of income from all ordinary sources is £1368 18s. 6d.
In the Report of last year, the Directors acknowledged the munificent contribution of £2000 from an unknown benefactor, by the Rev. James Sherman; and on the present occasion they have the gratification of reporting two generous Donations amounting to the same sum; viz. £1000, presented anonymously by two friends on the day of the last anniversary, and £1000 by the Rev. E. T. Prust, of Northampton, specially designed to honour the memory of his revered and beloved father, Stephen Prust, Esq., of Clifton, who, during his useful and protracted life, had been a faithful friend to the Society, and a generous contributor to its funds. In addition to the receipts above stated, there have been received for Special objects, £4854 58. 9d.; viz.
For the Repairs and Outfit of the John Williams, £3306 10s.
For the Widows and Orphans of Missionaries, £1547 17s. 9d.—making the total receipts for the year, Ordinary and Special, £68,028 138. 9d.
This amount exceeds the gross income of 1850, by £5483 12s. 10d.
While the Directors would offer grateful praise to the God of all grace, who has given to the contributors the willing mind to present these generous gifts for His service, they have peculiar pleasure in rendering their warmest thanks to their Juvenile Friends, by whom the Fund required for the Repairs and Outfit of the Missionary Ship has been raised; and more especially to the children of Sabbath Schools, who, under the guidance and kind influence of their Minister and Superintendents, have been the most active and liberal contributors to this good work. This amount has not been blended with the general receipts of the Society, but invested in Exchequer Bills, ready to meet, within the next three months, the objects for which it was specially contributed.
The claims of the Widows and Children of faithful Missionaries who have fallen in the field of toil and conflict, are too obvious and powerful to require argument; by their own force, they command both the judgment and the heart. Assured of the general sympathy and co-operation of their friends in relation to claims so just and powerful, the Directors, towards the close of last year, addressed an Appeal to the Officers and Members of our Churches, on behalf of the Widows and fatherless Children of departed Missionaries, soliciting a Sacramental Offering over and above the average monthly contributions at the Lord's table. The amount received, in answer to this Appeal, has been already stated, and the love and tenderness with which it was given serve greatly to enhance its value. Among many gratifying communications received on the occasion, breathing a kindred spirit, the following letter, from the pastor of a provincial Church, in transmitting the sacramental offering of his people, may be selected:— "Your Appeal on Behalf of the Widows and Orphans of our Missionaries was laid before the "Church here on the evening of Thursday last, and was most cordially heard. It gives me
great pleasure to be enabled to send you a Post-office order for the above most benevolent "object. We are glad that you made the appeal, for in such ways we are taught our duty to
"the widow and the fatherless, and have an opportunity to pray for them. I trust your appeal "will be universally attended to, and that, on the first Sabbath of future years, when the "Churches of Christ meet to remember a Saviour's death, and to show brotherly love, so long "as Missionaries' widows and children need support, a similar case to the one adopted this "year will be followed."
The total amount received during the year for the Widows' and Orphans' Fund, including Dividends on Stock, is £1991 78. 1d. Of this sun, after meeting the claims of the year, £700 have been added to the fund previously invested for the same object. It is the earnest hope of the Directors, that the yearly liberality of the Churches exercised after this manner, and involving neither effort nor self-denial, may enable their successors in office, not only to meet the present wants and promote the comfort of those for whom it is designed, but also gradually to augment the permanent fund for their support; a testimony of Christian love, which could not but prove most grateful to husbands and fathers now labouring in the Mission field, as well as soothing and sustaining to the widows and children of the departed.
For the seven years extending from 1844 to 1850, the average annual excess of the Society's Outlay, beyond its ordinary Income, amounted to £5538. The expenditure of the Society for the year just closed has been £65,265 13s. 6d., presenting an excess in outlay of £1028 13s. 6d. only.
This aspect of the Society's financial position, though encouraging, is, when compared with the magnitude of its operations and the weight of its responsibilities, far from satisfactory; but the Directors, though often perplexed, are not in despair; and confiding in the zeal and liberality of their long-tried friends, and depending on the grace of that adorable Saviour whose glorious kingdom they labour to extend, they purpose still to go forward, anticipating the day on which they shall report that the deficiency of income and the restraints to effort exist no more, and that the Society is advancing under the Divine blessing to more vigorous conflicts with the powers of evil, and to brighter triumphs in the cause of God.
Notwithstanding that the inadequate income of successive years has demanded economy and restrained zeal, yet the claims of the perishing heathen, and the brightening prospects of the world, have forbad the Directors to reduce the number of the Society's Agents, or to abandon a single department of its labours; and they now proceed to sketch an outline of its diversified operations and the blessed results by which they have been followed; commencing with the wide and interesting field of its earliest labours,—
On the 29th May last, the John Williams arrived in the port of London, having accomplished, in perfect safety, her three years' service in the South Pacific. She brought home a cargo of oil and arrow-root-the Missionary contributions of the Native Churches; and although the state of the Market has been unfavourable for the sale of such produce, the sum of £742 88. 3d. has been realized to the funds of the Society.
The intelligence brought by the Missionary Ship, and corroborated by later communications, exhibits an encouraging aspect of the state of religion, both in the Georgian and Society Islands.
In Tahiti the additions to the several churches have been very numerous, including many previously careless and dissipated young persons, and others who had for many years stubbornly resisted the power of the gospel.
Pomare continues stedfast in her attachment to Evangelical Protestantism, and consistent in her deportment as a Christian.
Not a single Islander has been seduced by the sophistries and superstitions of Romanism; and the revised Bible, sent out by the John Williams on her last voyage, continues to be pur
chased with avidity-the payments remitted to the British and Foreign Bible Society having already exceeded £600.
In Samoa the unnatural and destructive conflict which, for the last three years, has been carried on between the inhabitants of different islands, has been stayed; and although peace and amity are not formally restored, the Missionaries indulge the hope that the destruction of human life has terminated, and that permanent concord and prosperity will shortly be established.
Even amidst the desolations of war, the power of Christianity has been conspicuous, and multitudes have been spared and treated with lenity, who, but for its benign and restraining influence, would have become the victims of revenge and cruelty.
In the month of July, the hearts both of the Missionaries and the Native Christians were greatly rejoiced by the arrival of 15,000 copies of the New Testament, translated by our brethren, and printed, on the application of the Directors, by the Committee of the British and Foreign Bible Society.
The Rev. W. Mills, writing on the happy occasion from the Island of Upolu, remarks :— "You will be glad to learn that all the cases of New Testaments have been landed safelynot one of them meeting with the least damage. The people admire them very much. Within "the last week I have sold upwards of one hundred copies."
The sacred volume is not distributed gratuitously, except in cases of extreme poverty, but, as a rule, it is sold for a certain measure of oil, valued at 2s. 6d. ; and the following statement from the Rev. T. Powell evinces the anxiety of the Islanders to obtain on these terms the Word of Life:--
"On the arrival of the Testaments, so beautifully printed and bound, seven young men were "employed for a day and a-half to do some work for the vessel which brought them, and for "which they obtained three shillings each as wages. As soon as they received their pay, which was not till night, they all came together, each with two shillings and sixpence, to obtain a "book, rejoicing that they had been so fortunate as to have the opportunity of earning enough to purchase the treasure."
From these facts, there is then the strongest reason to expect that, as in the case of the Tahitian Scriptures, the funds of the Bible Society will be aided rather than diminished by the large editions of the New Testament so promptly and kindly sent forth by its Committee to the Christians of Samoa.
On the several Islands of the Hervey Group, the progress of the people, both in social and religious improvements, is striking and delightful.
The Rev. George Gill, the first English Missionary settled on Mangaia, and still a solitary labourer in that Island, gives the following animating recital of his labours and encourage
"It is my pleasing duty to inform you that the chapel for the settlement of Oneroa is now "completed. It is ninety-six feet long, sixty-six feet wide, and twenty-one feet high. The opening services were held on the 26th and 28th September, the former day being for the meeting of the adults, and the latter for the children. At an early hour the parties from the "inland villages came to the boundary of our settlement, and as soon as the church-members "of this village had made the necessary preparations for the reception of their friends, they "went to meet them; when all formed into a line of procession towards the chapel. It was an "interesting sight to see upwards of 500 church-members, and 400 class-members (candidates "for communion), sitting clothed and in their right mind, to dedicate the work of their hands "to the worship of the only true and living God.
"Katuke, one of the native teachers, preached a short sermon from Luke ii. 10: 'Behold, I "bring you good tidings of great joy, which shall be to all people.'
"After the sermon, several of the members addressed the assembly in many touching and