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Benjamin Hanbury, a collection of books relating to the history of the denomination was got together. 21


The year in which the Congregational Library was acquired also saw the establishment of the Congregational Lecture. In its origin the Lecture was closely associated with the Library, and the first course was delivered in that place. The foundation was designed “to illustrate the evidence and importance of the great doctrines of revelation, to exhibit the true principles of philology in their application to such doctrines, to prove the accordance and identity of genuine philosophy with the records and discoveries of Scripture, and to trace the errors and corruptions which have existed in the Christian Church to their proper sources, and by the connection of sound reasoning with the honest interpretation of God's holy word, to point out the methods of refutation and counteraction." The first lecturer, Dr. Wardlaw, took for his subject “ Christian Ethics.” He was succeeded by Dr. Vaughan, who at that time was minister of a Church in Kensington, and Professor of Ancient and Modern History in University College, London. Other lecturers in the same series were Mr. Gilbert, of Nottingham, Dr. Henderson, and Dr. Redford. After 1860 the series, which had not been continuous throughout, was closed. In 1873 a fresh start was made. The Union itself appointed lecturers and assigned subjects, and, to mark the change, the Lecture was now entitled “ The Congregational Union Lecture.” Mr. Henry Rogers, then living in retirement, was the first to hold office; and his book on The Superhuman Origin of the Bible was published in that capacity. It was understood from the outset that the state of his health would not allow him to stand the strain of delivering his lectures before a public assembly ; but they were written as if they were to be actually delivered ; and in writing, he had an imaginary audience before him

21 Waddington, iv. (1800-1850), 351-353; Stoughton, Religion in England (1800—1850), ii. 102-103 ; idem, Reminiscences of Congregationalism, 27-30.

22 Stoughton, Religion in England (1800-1850), ii. 130-133. Waddington, iv. (1800—1850), 353.

instead of an imaginary reader. The precedent was followed by his successor in the lectureship, the Rev. Dr. Reynolds, who took as his subject “ John the Baptist.” The other lecturers in the series—Dr. Mellor, Dr. Guinness Rogers, Dr. John Brown, Dr. Eustace Conder, Dr. Cave, and the author of this historydelivered their lectures at the Memorial Hall. After a few years, the new series, like its predecessor, came to an end; and the lectureship is at present in abeyance.


The reference made above to the Memorial Hall recalls the fact that the Union had now secured a more spacious and worthy home. At the autumnal meetings held in Birmingham during October, 1861, Mr. Joshua Wilson laid before the Assembly various proposals for commemorating the bicentenary of the ejection of 1662. He suggested that a fund should be raised to build fifty new chapels in the larger towns of the kingdom, and a Congregational Hall in London that might serve as a centre of administration and a place of conference. The scheme was adopted, and funds were raised to carry it out. But for many years the new chapels engrossed interest and energy; and the project for erecting a Hall made no way. At last action was taken. A site was bought in New Earl Street, which was sold again. About the same time the Metropolitan Railway Company paid £8,530 for the Congregational Library-a substantial addition to the funds available for meeting the cost of a new building. Another site was then secured in Farringdon Street, once occupied by the Fleet Prison; and the foundation-stone was laid on May 10, 1872. Mr. J. Remington Mills, Mr. Samuel Morley, and others, carried the plan through ; and the Memorial Hall was completed and opened on January 19, 1875. The total cost was £75,520, including £28,000 for the site.24

The Memorial Hall has now become the headquarters not of the Congregational Union only, but of all the various societies associated with Congregationalism. The Library is housed there ; and since the transfer has been enlarged by

23 Henry Rogers, The Superhuman Origin of the Bible, lviii.-lix.

24 Congregational Year Book, 1862, 60–72 ; 1867, 37-44 ; 1868, 32-33 ; 1873, 36–38 ; 1881, 51.

important additions, especially by the bequests of Mr. Joshua Wilson and the Rev. T. W. Davids, of Colchester; and under the care of the Rev. T. G. Crippen, the Librarian, it is becoming every year a more complete and valuable collection of the literature relating to the history of English Nonconformity.


In the year 1881-2 the Congregational Union celebrated its Jubilee. The occasion was commemorated at the Autumnal Meetings, held in Manchester, and courses of lectures and addresses dealing with the principles of the Congregational polity and its progress were delivered in every part of the kingdom. A special fund, which amounted ultimately to £400,000, was organised to strengthen the position of the Churches, and to enable them to undertake new work. The greater part of it was applied in the districts where it was raised, to remove existing debts on chapels and colleges. But a large sum was voted to the Home Missionary and Church Aid Society; and the Congregational Union had several thousand pounds placed at its disposal for general purposes.?

25 Congregational Year Book, 1882, 17 ; 1886, 21.






O include in a work of this kind any detailed account

of the various enterprises and organisations associated with the Congregational Churches, or originated by them, would be impossible. All that can be attempted is to deal, and that briefly, with the various types and classes of institutions and to indicate their general character and aim.


An account of the Colleges established to train students for the ministry of the Congregational Churches has been given in a previous chapter. But the changes of the last sixty or seventy years should be recorded.

In London the three foundations of Homerton, Coward, and Highbury (or Hoxton) were united in 1850 to form New College ; and in the following year the institution was removed to new buildings in St. John's Wood. Hackney College was not included in the scheme of amalgamation, and retained a separate existence. But in 1887 it was transferred from its earlier home to Finchley Road; and of late years, by mutual agreement, the two Colleges have combined their

1 See ante, pp. 593 foll.

professorial staffs for some subjects of instruction. In Yorkshire the two Colleges at Airedale and Rotherham were amalgamated in 1888 to form the Yorkshire United College at Bradford. In Lancashire the College established at Manchester still occupies the buildings of which it took possession in 1843, but enlarged by important alterations and extensions in 1876. Western College has been removed from Plymouth to Bristol, and united with the Theological Institute established there in 1863. That Institute, like the similar foundation at Nottingham, which dates from the year 1861, was designed for students of a special type who wished to give less time to literary studies than was given in the Colleges, and to place theological instruction and practical service in the foreground of their preparatory work.

These changes must not be regarded as casual or fortuitous : they are the outcome of a policy more or less definitely planned, and followed out with some measure of consistency. For many years the subject of College reform had engrossed much attention and had given rise to much discussion. At a large and representative conference of delegates appointed by the Colleges and Institutes, held in 1865, the whole question was considered at length-methods and details, as well as principles and aims; the minimum of education which the Colleges ought to furnish, and which all ministers trained in them should be expected to possess; the best means of securing a higher standard of Theological and Biblical scholarship for students of special gifts; the possibility of combining the educational courses of the separate Colleges in some common system ; the probable effect of the new Theological Institutes at Bristol and Nottingham on the Congregational ministry ; and the formation of a Federal Board empowered to grant degrees in theology to candidates of distinction. Some of the papers dealt with the relation of students to the Churches, the cultivation of personal character and conviction among them, and the value of an organised system of co-pastorates.3

Fifteen years later, in 1880, the same subject was brought

2 The removal and union took place in 1901.

3 Minutes of the Proceedings of a Conference of Delegates from the Committees of the Theological Colleges and Institutes connected with the Congregational Churches of England, held in the Congregational Library, Blomfield Street, London, on January 24-5, 1865.

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