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Lamb walks, and reigns, and upon which He diffuses His blessings personally. Let us think more of that, and less of the toils and the cares and anxieties and the pleasures of earth. Heaven is drawing within its capacious bosom all that is good, all that is pure, all that is holy, all that is precious in the Church below. Let us look forward to the time when we too shall be invited by the Master to come up hither," and let us think less of the world that is passing away, and the things that perish with the using, and more and more of that blessed place where they serve God continually in His holy temple, where they see His face and where no cloud either of weakness or evil ever rises up to intercept the radiance of His countenance shining upon them, and the ardour of their love to Him.—(Loud applause).
Rev. Dr GOWAN afterwards made a few remarks, and pointed out how Dr Alexander's fame as a preacher had grown and was still growing in the estimation of the people of Edinburgh.
Mr PULSFORD, Albany Street Church, said it seemed to him that the greatest use of a meeting like this was the inspiration which it might supply to young men starting in life, by their witnessing what a consistent course in life, calmly and quietly persevered in, might lead to. The rev. gentleman afterwards bore a warm testimony to the regard and esteem with which Dr Alexander was regarded all over the country, and congratulated him on the honours he had gained, the position in life to which he had attained, and the work he had done.
At intervals the Church Musical Association, under the leadership of Mr Geikie, sang a number of sacred pieces in a very tasteful style. The meeting was closed about ten o'clock by the Rev. Mr Wight pronouncing the benediction.
THE REV. JAMES SPENCE, D.D. WE regret to announce, but our readers will not be surprised to hear, that the Rev. Dr Spence has departed this life. His death took place at his residence in Upper Clapton, on Monday morning, the 27th. In 1870 Dr Spence was prostrated by heart disease and a stroke of paralysis, and from that time he has been unable to engage in public service. But, notwithstanding his great infirmity and great suffering, he has continued the editorship of the Evangelical Magazine, which he had undertaken a short time before his illness. And in his quiet study, and with his pen, he has devoted much time and thought to the interests of what we may call this venerable institution.
Dr Spence's birthplace, Huntly, is a small town-scarcely more than village-in Aberdeenshire. But it has a great history in relation to the progress of religion. In the end of last century an eminent man of God, George Cowie, was deposed from his ministry by the Antiburgher section of the Secession Church for rendering encouragement to lay preaching and to those notable irregulars, Rowland Hill and the Messrs Haldane-a fact which may well seem incredible to persons born within the last forty years. In Mr Cowie's deposition originated the Independent Church in Huntly, of which he was the first pastor ; and in his influence and labours originated a spiritual movement of great depth throughout the surrounding districts. It was in the circle of genuine Puritans who had been taught by Mr Cowie and his successor the Rev. John Hill, that James Spence was born in 1821. Several of the names of families in that circle have since become well-known -Spence, Legge, and MacDonald.
After enjoying the best education which Huntly could afford, James Spence was sent into Aberdeen to business. But the love of study was too strong for the attractions of the shop, and after a short stay in Aberdeen he went to assist his uncle, bearing his own name, formerly of Aberdeen, at that time in the Isle of Wight, in the conduct of a school. It was while under his uncle's roof if we are not mistaken, that young Spence became a Christian. His heart now turned to the ministry of the Gospel as his life-work, and to prepare himself for it he returned to Aberdeen and prosecuted his studies for four years at King's College. During this period he attended the ministry of the Rev. John Kennedy (now of Stepney), who had succeeded his uncle in the pulpit of Blackfriars Street Chapel. At the University James Spence attained the highest honours both in classics and in mental philosophy. And this fact was not forgotten by his Alma Mater in after years, the Aberdeen University conferring upon him in 1856 the highest honour within its reach, the degree of Doctor of Divinity.
From Aberdeen Mr Spence went to Highbury College, where he studied theology for three years. In 1845 he became pastor of the Congregational Church in Oxford, and there he married the lady who, with her seven children, now mourns his loss. In 1848 he removed to Preston, where he remained till 1854, when he became pastor of the Church in the Poultry, London, in succession to the Rev. S. Bergne. In 1867 he accepted a call to succeed the Rev. John Davies as pastor of the Church in Old Gravel Pit, Hackney, with which the name of Dr Pye-Smith is so honourably associated. To this step he was led very much by the feeling that his strength was no longer equal to the necessities of the Church in the Poultry. At Hackney the congregation so prospered that the Church was encouraged to undertake the erection of a new, large, and costly building in Clapton Park. But, before this building was ready for occupation, the good man who had hoped to exercise his ministry within its walls was silenced by the hand of diseaseshould we not rather say, the hand of God? “Even so, Father.”
To those who have known Dr Spence from his youth, his life has been a wonder. Within a few months of his entrance on his ministry in Oxford, he suffered hemorrhage from the lungs, which it was feared would issue in consumption. And at different periods of his life his services of various kinds have been so many and so severe, that friends could not but wonder at the energy with which he prosecuted' his ministry. This energy sprang, under God, from a strong will and a deep conscientiousness. These characteristics distinguished him through life. In study—for he retained to the last the vantage ground which he had attained as a scholar at the University; in preparation for the pulpit, in which he was most painstaking ; and in pastoral work, in which he was most constant and loving-Dr James Spence was a true man of God.
Dr Spence's funeral took place on Saturday 5th March.
A service was held previously at Clapton Park Chapel, Dr Allan and Dr Kennedy, and others took part; Dr Legge delivered an address from which we give the following, for which we are indebted to the report of the English Independent :
Some of you know more than I do of the abundance of his labours in his four different charges; but I am confident that those who know most of them will agree in saying that there was not a more laborious, and devoted, and conscientious worker in all the range of our ministry. Fully in sympathy with the religious and philanthropic movements of the Christian Church at large, and taking his full share of them, and not slow to speak to the public through the press, he felt very strongly the claims of his own people upon him. He was diligent in his preparations for the pulpit. I could hardly believe the fact which was stated to me to-day, that after the removal from the Poultry to the Gravel-pit meeting, he never preached there an old sermon, without recasting and rewriting it. He was attentive to pastoral duties. He was more attentive to these than many ministers think it is possible for them to be. Whatever other things he could do, he was glad to do; but these two things he felt that he must do.
A long conversation which I had with him, when I was in this country in 1858, made a lasting impression on my mind. We talked of many of the theological tendencies of the day, and I found he had no sympathy with them. He was more averse from religious speculation than some others who had come out from the same circle in the north, nor had he the same aptitude for it. He would walk, he said, in the old paths, so long as he walked on the earth, nor had his reading shaken his confidence in them as the right paths. He would continue, he added, to give himself to reading, to meditation, and to prayer ; would feed the souls of his people from the pulpit; and watch over them, to the extent of his ability, in a constant, careful, pastoral intercourse. I believe that to the extent of his strength, and beyond it, he did those things. He wore out prematurely a constitution never strong by his indefatigable labours. But I need not, and will not, multiply words. There, in his narrow chamber, lies all that was mortal of an accomplished gentleman, a faithful minister of the Gospel, and a loving friend. Of what he was in the family circle I do not presume to speak. There is nothing in all his course for which we need to blush. On the contrary, we glorify God in him, for what he was and what he did. He was honoured to be very useful; and now his spirit is with God and with Christ. His end was very calm and trustful. “I have neither doubt nor fear, Christ is my all and in all.” That was one of his last utterances. As I walked from his house after my own last interview with him, I thought of a line in one of Milton's sonnets, and with the first four lines of that sonnet I am sure I might now address his spirit :
“When faith and love, that parted from thee never,
Had meetened thy ripe soul to dwell with God,
MR GEORGE SMITH, GLASGOW. We deeply regret to have to announce the death of Mr George Smith, who has for so many years been a valued member and office-bearer of Elgin Place Church, and a liberal contributor to the funds of the Denomination. It will be remembered it was a speech which he delivered when chairman of one of our meetings four years ago that gave the first impetus to the Pastors' Supplementary Fund, of which he has ever since been a steady and zealous supporter. We subjoin the following about him from a Glasgow Contemporary:
Mr Smith, who was a native of Saltcoats, began business in Glasgow about fifty years ago; and he took the principal part in building up the extensive business of which he was for many years the senior partner. The original partners of the firm were his father, Mr George Smith, who predeceased him by only a few years, and his brother, Mr Robert Smith, who died in the end of July 1873. Their business was that of drapers, and their premises were situated in London Street. About 1840 they drifted, almost incidentally we have heard, into the position of shipowners. The first vessel built specially for their service was launched in 1842; and by slow degrees additions were made until the firm now possess one of the finest fleets of merchant shipping in the kingdom-the total number, we believe, being 29 sailing ships and 10 steamers.
While devoting himself sedulously to the advancement of his own business, Mr Smith still found time to devote a considerable amount of attention to public affairs. For many years he was a prominent member of the Clyde Trust, holding office continuously from 1858 till 1873, when he was obliged to retire in consequence of advancing years and infirmity. During that period he did much good service in aiding in the carrying through of measures for improving the navigation of the river, and developing the trade of the port. He also took a lively interest in the management of the various railway systems converging on the city. Mr Smith was also a member of the Local Marine Board and of the Chamber of Commerce. Of the latter body he was for some years one of the directors, and he took an active part in the consideration of all matters coming under their cognisance, as well as in the general business of the Chamber. Like the other members of his family, Mr Smith belonged to the Congregational denomination, and at the time of his death held office as deacon and treasurer of Elgin Place Church. He was a hearty supporter of the various missionary and benevolent schemes of the denomination, and he also contributed liberally to the charitable and benevolent institutions throughout the city. Indeed he was ever ready to lend a helping hand to promote any good object brought under his notice, taking care, however, to satisfy himself of the merit of the cause he was called on to support. Mr Smith was twice married, and he leaves a family of one son and two daughters, the children of his second wife, who died some years ago.
CORRESPONDENCE. WHO SHOULD NOMINATE THE NEW SECRETARY? DEAR SIR,—“ It is a fundamental principle of Congregationalism that an applicant should apply to the Church with which he desires fellowship, and that the Church shall, in a way deemed by itself fit, satisfy itself as to the
applicant. That the same principle . . . should regulate the admission of Churches to the fellowship of each other.”
Such is the preamble to a series of rules proposed for the guidance of our Churches when differences arise, or when new Churches are to be formed. The argument is, that as the individual Church determines the mode in which its affairs shall be conducted, so the United Churches should determine the mode in which their affairs shall be conducted.
If this is good logic, it sheds some light on the election of a Secretary to the United Churches. The nearest analogous case to this in Church business is the election of a pastor, in which case the usual mode of proceeding is for the Church to appoint a special committee to bring forward suitable candidates. The deacons or the existing committee of management may be entrusted with this duty, but it is quite beyond their province to undertake it without having the authority and appointment of the Church. They were appointed for the usual routine work of the Church ; the election of a pastor is sufficiently important to require special appointments.
The Committee of the Union sustains substantially the same relation to the United Churches as a committee of management sustains to the Church which appoints it. The Union Committee is appointed for administrative purposes. When it was appointed the Union had no knowledge of the present vacancy in the Secretariat. It did not contemplate its committee having the duty imposed upon it of recommending one to the vacant office. Is it wise, then, for the Union Committee to undertake this important work? Assuming that a previous committee in a previous vacancy recommended a Secretary, is that enough to justify its repetition ?
Congregationalism should be quite as liberal in making such appointments as Presbyterianism is, with its important offices ; Presbyteries have something to say in appointing Professors. The Union Committee would not have done much beyond its powers had it issued a circular asking the Churches to name one, two, or perhaps three, brethren they considered most eligible for the Secretaryship, and also to report on its duties. A report and recommendation to the annual meeting, based on these returns, would have been highly esteemed, and great weight attached to it. May it not be worthy of consideration whether an adjournment of the annual meeting, to allow such a plan to be carried out, might not be a happy solution of the problem.
I do not think that “throwing down such a question before a popular assembly such as the Annual Meeting of the Congregational Union is to be deprecated.” It must be brought before it in some form, and unless the meeting is to denude itself of its power to deliberate, and become merely the executive of its Committee by adopting its recommendation, the difficulties of discussing the question will be as great whether it be submitted with the recommendation of the Committee or without it. It is not likely the meeting will proceed to settle the appointment by an open vote, but it appears desirable that the opinion of those present should be obtained not only on Who is to be Secretary ? but, What are his duties to be? Surely a meeting, though“ mainly composed of the members of the Churches in Glasgow," may be trusted to express itself on these subjects.
If the Union Committee recommends, and the Annual Meeting does not in a merely formal manner adopt the recommendation, but enters on a discussion of the appointment and its duties, the result will possibly be the nomination of the usual Committee or a special Committee to consider the whole question in the light of the discussion, and report thereon and recommend. The practical difficulty arises, When could this Committee report? Would it be impossible for it to report to an adjourned meeting of the Union to be held half an hour previous to the annual public meeting same evening ? The members would have their opinions formed by the previous discussion; they would only require to meet, and vote, and frame their report. A report and recommendation so prepared might be expected to be generally acceptable.
Whether these hints meet with approval or not, I hope that the action taken will lie along the lines of our Congregationalism. I believe in committees doing work of this kind better than public assemblies, but they must be appointed thereunto. Obviously enough, there exists a desire to have Union affairs discussed, and this vacancy affords a fitting opportunity. I have no fear but that the discussion will reveal the presence amongst us of a spirit of love and of a sound mind, and that we shall be guided into ways that will silence objections, promote harmony, and obtain the right man for the place.
T. E. M. BROUGHTY-FERRY, March 1876.
IS THE CONGREGATIONAL UNION TO TAKE THE PLACE
OF INDIVIDUAL EFFORT? DEAR SIR, -A good deal is being said and written at present about the policy of the Congregational Union in the selection of the localities where its operations ought to be carried on, and in some quarters loud complaints are being made that too much money and labour are being expended in country districts, while the evangelisation of large towns is neglected. From my own knowledge of the country churches, I do not believe that many of them could be removed without inflicting great injury to the spiritual interests of the people among whom they have been planted; and it is just possible that, in