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THE PRODUCTIVENESS OF VILLAGE MISSIONARY MEETINGS.
"Jesus said unto his disciples, Gather up the fragments that remain, that nothing be lost. Therefore they gathered them together, and filled iwelve baskets with the fragments."
In the Missionary Observer for February, a short appeal is inserted from the writer, on the subject of village missionary meetings. In that article reference is made to ten or twelve missionary meetings to be held in three successive weeks, in the vicinity of this town. It has struck me to inquire of the general treasurer the amount of these meetings, and through your pages to address another appeal to the friends of the Mission in our « half tribe of Israel," demonstrating the productiveness of village missionary meetings. Yesterday I saw the treasurer, who informed me that the years' proceeds amounted to £64 7s. 8d., of which sum £18 15s. 7d. was raised by the principal town, leaving £45 12s. 1d., the product of missionary contributions in eleven villages and hamlets. Thus, as the fragments were more than the original provision for the supply of our Lord's followers, so the villages raised more than twice the sum of the parent Church. I attended five of these meetings, and my friend, the Independent minister, attended four of them. I may also remark, that, when among our own people very recently, we had three missionary meetings after sermons on the Lord'sday. The active ministers of these numerous villages attended them, and rendered very effective assistance. • How good and how pleasant it is for brethren to dwell together in unity." How important, that in every village and hamlet connected with our Churches a missionary meeting should be held. Is not this a principal source of the productiveness of some of the larger Missionary Societies? Have we one hundred and twenty Churches ? Then have we not preaching in four or five hundred villages ? “Gather up the fragments, that nothing be lost," to send the bread of life to India, and China, and Japan. “Let the wilderness and the cities thereof lift up their voice, the villages that Kedar doth inhabit : let the inhabitants of the rocks sing, let them shout from the top of the mountains. Let them give glory unto the Lord, and declare his praise in the islands.” -Isaiah xlii. 11, 12. There are several views of this subject which demand very serious attention.
Numerous villages are charactertslic of a prosperous country. How pathetically Deborah depicts the state of Israel, through the ravages of war, affording a striking contrast to Great Britain and Ireland at the present time. “In the days of Shamgar, the son of Arath, in the days of Jael, the highways were unoccupied, and the travellers walked through by-ways. The villages ceased, they ceased in Israel, until that I, Deborah, arose, that I arose, a mother in Israel.”—Judges v. 6, 7. What pious female reader of these lines does not feel her spirit stirred in her to become a mother in Israel, and to be a public blessing in Britain, and India, and China ? The prophet Ezekiel thus describes the thoughts of Gog, the enemy of Israel. “Thou shalt think an evil thought: and thou shalt say, I will go up to the land of unwalled villages ; I will go to them that are at rest, that dwell safely, all of them dwelling without walls, and having neither bars nor gates, to take a spoil, and to take a prey; to turn thine hand upon the desolate places that are now inhabited, and upon the people that are gathered out of the nations, which have gotten cattle and goods, that dwell in the midst of the land.”—Ezek. xxxviji. 11, 12. What can
be more delightful than to see countries studded with villages, inhabited by myriads, yea, by millions of people ?
It is important that the resources of villages for the cause of God should be developed. “ The king himself is served by the field.” But the fields must be cultivated, or the extensive establishment of such a king as Solomon could not be served by the fields, and its flocks and herds. The Jews frequently called small places cities. Thus, when Naomi and Ruth returned, it is said, “When they were come to Bethlehem all the city was moved about them.” The inhabitants of villages, from their comparative solitude, are easily excited and brought together, “ to tell and to hear some new thing." How important the establishment of Sabbath-schools and the erection of chapels in the numerous villages of our country! Here opportunity would be afforded to engage the sympathies and efforts of the young and the old in the Bible, Missionary, and Tract Society operations, which are now causing the wilderness and the solitary places to be glad.” Was it not in reference to the utility of such efforts that Mr. James, of Birmingham, has very eloquently observed, “The tear of penitence does not drop in a single instance in this land without being felt in some way or other at the antipodes?" The aggregate
of these village efforts is very considerable, and may become more so. The facts stated here are very striking. The town, the little city set upon a hill, raises for the missionary cause in the year £18 15s.; eleven villages within four or five miles, lying east, and west, and north, and south, produce £45 12s. 1d. It would be an interesting inquiry, what proportion of the funds of our public institutions is obtained from villages ? but it is presumed that it is very considerable, and would be much more so if the inhabitants of these romantic and often beautiful places were more regularly visited on behalf of the claims of the world. They are inhabited by men of “like passions," and can rejoice in the progress of the cause of God, as well as the inhabitants of populous towns and cities. When the diabolical plot of Haman was defeated, not only did “the Jews that were in Shushan, the palace, assemble, and make it a day of feasting and gladness ;” but “ the Jews of the villages that dwelt in the unwalled towns, made the fourteenth day, of the month Adar a day of gladness and feasting, and a good day, and of sending portions one to another.”—Esther ix. 18, 19. Why should not every village have its “ good day” on behalf of the different religious institutions of our country? Of the visit of Peter and John to Samaria, it is said, “When they had testified and preached the word of the Lord, they returned to Jerusalem, and preached the Gospel in many villages of the Samaritans.”-Acts viii. 25. “In their road home,” says
says Matthew Henry, "they were itinerant preachers. As they passed through many villages of the Samaritans they preached the Gospel. Though the congregations there were nothing so considerable as in the cities, either for number or figure, yet their souls were as precious, and the apostles did not think it below them to preach the Gospel to them. God has a regard to the inhabitants of his villages in Israel ; (Judg. v. xi.) and so should we.”
Very numerous and efficient Churches are sometimes located in villages. This is evident in the history of the various tribes of the Lord, and our own history is highly confirmative of the fact. What, is Barton, “the mother of us all,” in the midland counties? Not Barton upon the Humber, the Trent, or the Thames ; but Barton Fabis, Barton among the Beans ! And yet this Church now contains 404 members, six chapels, 350 Sabbathscholars, and thirty-five teachers. Are not many of the Churches in the villages, having numerous Church members, congregations, Sabbathschools, &c., &c. ? Thence the importance of missionary meetings being regularly held in every branch of the Church, that “the brethren, every man according to his several ability,” may come up to the help of the Lord, the help of the Lord against the mighty." This view of the subject under consideration is self-evident and important. The efforts here advocate are adapted to elicit the resources of these Churches, and stimulate them like Deborah, to become “ mothers in Israel.” It may be further remarked
Valuable characters are often raised up in villages and obscure circumstances, and not unfrequently are brought forth to much usefulness. Were not our Taylors, our Deacons, our Smiths, the natives of villages, and there trained for eminent service in the cause of God ? Both Wesley and Kilham were natives of the little town or village of Epworth, in Lincolnshire. Was not Carey born in a village, “unknown to fortune and to fame,” Paulers-Pury, in Northmptonshire ? Was not Sir Isaac Newton born, not in a city, or town, or village, but the little hamlet of Woolsthorpe, in the parish of Colesterworth, in Lincolnshire ? Sturm, in his “ Reflections,” has some very pertinent observations upon the subject of our consideration. “It is a matter of small importance to us where we may live, provided we find genuine happiness. There is no place on earth, however poor and despicable, but may have better and more happy inhabitants than many who dwell in the largest and most celebrated cities. For an individual that place is preferable to all others where he can get and do most good. For a number of people that place is best where they can find the greatest number of wise and pious men. Every nation declines in proportion as virtue and religion lose their influence on the minds of the inhabitants. Bethlehem, notwithstanding its smallness, was a most venerable place; seeing that there so many pious people had had their abode, and that acts of peculiar piety had often been performed in it. At Bethlehem the humble Jesse sojourned, the happy father of so many sons, the youngest of whom rose from the pastoral life to the throne of Israel, In Bethlehem, Zerubbabel, the prince, was born. In this city the Son of God appeared, who by his birth laid the foundation of that salvation which, as Redeemer, he was to purchase by his death for the whole world. Thus, in places which, from their smallness, are entitled to little notice, men sometimes spring who become the benefactors of the human race. Often an inconsiderable village has given birth to a man, who, by his wisdom, uprightness, and heroism, has been a blessing to whole kingdoms."
Who can tell what may be the influence of the details of a missionary meeting upon a village audience? Who would have looked for Israel's most popular king in the village of Bethlehem, and in the youngest son, brought from the fold? May all the Israel of God, from “Dan to Beer. sheba," be stirred up to promote the cause of Christ, both at home and abroad, May our country be still favoured to take the lead in the evangelization of the word.
“O blesesed land !
AN EARLY FRIEND OF THE Mission,
THE LOCATION OF THE ion, suggests the location of the Institu.
tion where the Association fixed it. I say To the Editor of the General Baptist Repository. fixed it, for now it is determined that the
Dear Sir,-Since I returned from the Tutor shall not be the pastor of a Church, Association at Loughboro', I have rumi- the time is come when the Tator will be nated a good deal on the proceedings of the moved to the Institution, and not the Instibrethren, relative to our Academical Insti. tution to the Tutor :" and we shall be tation, and have determined to send you a spared the necessity of having, at different few of thoughts which have occured to my times, discussions about the locality, and own mind.
conflicting arguments on that subject, It was determined that the Institution whether from the same or different persons. should be conducted in the Midland Dis. A remark also made by an esteemed minis. trict. When the simple fact is stated, that ter from Lincolnshire, indicated a correct in the three Midland Counties, are found judgment, viz., that none of the Midland nearly half our Churches, and about half towns presented so important collateral our number; and that all the other districts, advantages of a philosophical kind as the viz: Yorkshire, Lincolnshire, Warwick: town of Leicester, arising from the existshire, and London, together, only make up existence of a liberally conducted proprie. about an equal number of Churches, and tary school. members, I think it will be apparent, that If premises in Leicester suitable for the if it be any advantage to the Churches or conducting of the Academy, in process of the Institution, to have it located where time, can be purchased or erected, it will be there are the largest numbers of our people; well. I trust that this is a matter that will the decision of the brethren was correct. commend itself to the attention and liberAnd then the preference given to Leicester ality of the wealthier members of the over Notlingham, though it was secured by Churches, and that some of us may live to a small majority only, seems to me still to see such a building, at once the property, be quite in character with the principle and the source of the prosperity of, the above alluded to. It may not be generally General Baptist Connexion. Before I lay known that in Leicester itself, there are more down my pen, Mr. Editor, I will add that General Baptist Churches, than in any other the almost perfect agreement which the town in the kingdom, and as many members Association manifested in their choice of the residing in the town as there are either in present Tutor, leads me to hope, that the Nottingham, or even London. Then in the whole of our Churches will unite hand and county of Leicester there are upwards of heart in promoting the well-being of this twenty General Baptist Churches, and, Institution. speaking in round numbers,* four thousand A WELLWISHER TO THE ACADEMY. members. In Nottinghamshire there are ten Churches, and about two thousand LORD'S SUPPER AT THE ASSO. members: in Derbyshire, there are twelve
CIATION. Churches, and about eighteen hundred
To the Editor of the General Baptist Repository. members. If we take the whole number of our members at sixteen thousand, it will
Dear Sir,-During the past week the follow, that while half the whole number ministers and representstives of the majority reside in the Midland Counties, one fourth of our Churches, scattered through the are found in the county of Leicester alone. length and breadth of the land, assembled If then, numbers give a claim, the decision together with one accord in one place;" is correct. Then, Leicester itself is cen. they united in singing the praises of the tral for the county; it is also central for the and supplications at the footstool of the
triune Deity; they commingled their cries Midland counties; Nottingham, Derby, Birmingham, being within a manageable brethren leading the devotions of the ser.
mercy-seat ; one after another of the distance. If also Churches in other dis. vices, by calling on the name of the tricts may desire to enjoy occasional help Lord,” and whilst the ministers appointed from the Institution, Leicester is, as near as may be, a central point. While there to preach before the Association were break. fore we are strongest in the central parts of ing the bread of life, we believe most prethe kingdom, a due regard to the relative sent were inclined to say with the Psalmist, claims of the remoter parts of the Connex.
“How sweet are thy words unto my taste !
yea, sweeter than honey to my mouth!” * These numbers do not profess exactness :
The hearts too of God's people were they are near enough for our purpose.
cheered by beholding each others face in Vol. 5.-N.S.
the flesh; and the pleasing character of the remarks on the other side written by the reports from most of our Churches, led all late Mr. Rogers, inserted in the G. B. R. who heard them, to “thank God and take for 1834, p. 61, which should not be overcourage."
looked.-ED] This annual season of religious festivity
CHAPEL DEBTS. is however past and gone, and our friends have returned to their respective localities,
To the Editor of the General Baptist Repository. we trust, “in the fulness of the blessing The following is the plan, for the reducof Gospel of Christ.” And as it appears tion of chapel debts, in the Yorkshire dis. very desirable that we should on these occa- trict; as revised by the Committee, apsions, endeavour, as far as possible, to cul. pointed for that purpose; and as adopted tivate and promote a spirit of union and by the Conference held at Halifax, on christian affection amongst our brethren of Whit-Tuesday, June 9th 1843. “ like precious faith,” would it not be cal. 1. That every Church belonging to this culated to further this object, if we were Conference make one public collection in some time during the Association, to as. the year, for the reduction of chapel debts semble together around the table of our in this district, and that the year commence once crucified, but now highly exalted Re. this Whitsuntide. deemer, for the purpose of partaking of the 2. That the monies thus collected be emblems of his body which was broken for transmitted to the Treasurer chosen by this us, and of his blood which was shed for the Conference, before or at the close of the remission of sins? Other sections of the year : Whitsuntide. That brethren, L. Ing. universal Church adopt this plan; and ham of Moss Hall, be the Treasurer, and though we would not advocate such a W. Crabtree of Lineholme, Secretary for course simply on that account, yet, as they the current year. find it to be a time of refreshing from the 3. That these sums be annually di. presence of the Lord, we think that if we vided among the Churches, that have debts were in our collective capacity, thus to on their chapels; in proportion to the “show the Lord's death till he come," amount of their debts. the service would be calculated to exercise 4. That every Church receiving assistance a beneficial influence on our minds, it would from this fund, be obliged, besides making more closely cement our hearts to each other one annual public collection for it, (the fund) and all to Christ; it would lead us to feel to raise the same amount among themselves, more of that openess which ought to exist as that which they receive. Suppose a amongst the followers of the Saviour; and Church receive £5, that it reduce its debt perhaps not a few would be led to renew their £10, before it receive any more help from covenant engagements with Jehovah; and this fund. if objects so great and important as these 5. That the money thus collected go are likely to be accomplished, we think it exclusively to the reduction of our chapel is worth making the experiment. Hoping debts. therefore that our friends, previous to an. 6. That these public collections be an. other annual gathering, will give the sub. nually made by all our Churches composing ject that consideration to which it is justly this Conference, so long as there remains entitled, and praying that the year upon any debt, on any of our chapels in this which we have now entered may be dis. district. tinguished by increasing prosperity in all 7. That all our Churches that may hereour Churches, I remain,
after contract debts, by building, or enlargYours respectfully, ing their chapels, do it with the consent and Loughboro'
T. W. M. approbation of this Conference, that they [We cheerfully insert the suggestion of may be entitled to receive aid from this our correspondent. We are not certain
fund. In behalf of the Conference, that he recollects the fact that ten years
I remain, dear sir, ago this question occupied the attention of
Yours truly, the Association. The remarks made by
W. CRABTREE. the late Mr. Jarrom on that occasion, were inserted in the G. B. R. for 1833, page 361.
QUERY. To this article we beg leave respectfully to Would you or any of your kind corresrefer him, or any other correspondent who pondents give us a plain scriptural explan. may be disposed to take the affirmative of ation of Matt. xviii. 15, 16, 17 verses, the question. They certainly deserve se: “Moreover if thy brother shall trespass rious consideration. There were also some against thee," &c.