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FORTY-FOURTH GENERAL ANNUAL MEETING
Not many days have elapsed since the Friends of the Society in the Metropolis, and from every part of the empire, were united together in the enjoyment of the sacred, harmonious, and delightful engagements peculiar to the season of our Anniversary Meetings. Events had occurred in the preceding year, both at home and abroad, which, on being communicated to the churches, had produced the deepest solemnity of feeling, the most fervent and importuning prayer, and the liveliest interest. Such distinct preparation of heart and mind, in alliance with the varied and hallowed emotions associated with our annual solemnities, could scarcely fail to have a highly beneficial influence on the recent Anniversary Services. These were such as, from the circumstances referred to, might have been anticipated ; and, through the Divine blessing, it is hoped that the deeply impressive sermons which were preached, the engagements of the Meeting at Exeter Hall, and the holy and affecting service which brought the whole to a conclusion, presenting the churches in their Missionary character, as showing forth the Lord's death until he come, will be followed by a decided increase of holy feeling, of active effort, of liberality, personal consecration and prayer, in favour of that cause whose unfailing consummation shall be, as the Spirit of all truth has declared, the conversion of the world unto God.
WEDNESDAY, May 9th.
SURREY CHAPEL. The Rev. JAMES SHERMAN read the Prayers of the Church of England, after which the Rev. Dr. HALLEY, Resident Tutor of Highbury College, prayed from the pulpit.
The Rev. John Harris, of Epsom, preached from Rom. xiv. 7 ; and the Rev. PATRICK THOMPSON, of Chatham, concluded with prayer.
TABERNACLE. The Rev. George Young, A.M., of Whitby, read the Scriptures and offered up prayer. The Rev. Wm. CAMPBELL preached from Isaiah xlix. 6. The Rev. RICHARD FLETCHER, of Manchester, concluded with prayer.
THURSDAY, May 10th.
THE ANNUAL PUBLIC MEETING.
EXETER HALL. The Forty-fourth Annual Meeting of the subscribers and friends to this Institution was held at Exeter-hall, on Thursday, the 10th ult. The weather was extremely favourable, and at an early hour a most respectable audience had assembled ; long before the time appointed for the chair to be taken, every seat was oscupied.
At half-past nine
The Rev. J. ARUNDEL announced that W. T. Blair, Esq., of Bath, whose presence as chairman had been expected, was prevented by illness from attending; and stated that Edward Baines, Esq., Member of Parliament for Leeds, had kindly engaged to preside on the occasion.
Mr. BAINES then took the chair, supported by Wm. Alers Hankey, Esq., and Thomas Wilson, Esq. The Hymn
“Hark! the voice from distant nations," having been sung, the Rev. John WATSON, from Scotland, implored the Divine presence and blessing.
The CHAIRMAN then rose, and after expressing his regret at the absence of Mr. Blair, observed—It is particularly gratifying to find, that in every part of the world the labours of this Society are greatly extending, and that the benefits accruing from those labours reach I may almost say from pole to pole ; that it is embracing, through the instrumentality of its agents, and with the blessing of God, those regions that have hitherto sat in darkness and in the shadow of death, and diffusing a light over them that extends from earth to heaven, and will be found to bloom throughout the countless ages of eternity. A great amount of good has already attended our efforts; and surely we ought to be animated to renewed exertions by the example of those who are now labouring in the field of Missions ; by the example of such men as the honoured Mr. Williams. Observe the impression that he has made on the people of this country; observe how he has brought under the view of men hitherto indifferent to the subject the labours of Missionaries ; observe the impression that he has made upon their minds, and the power that they are now displaying, and the readiness with which they now come forward to aid his labours. I remember the time when he appeared before a committee of the House of Commons in all the simplicity of his character. He gave his evidence in that simple and characteristic manner which distinguishes those who feel conscious of their own integrity, and of the importance of the labours in which they are employed. I believe there was not a gentleman in the committee who heard his evidence that was not favourably impressed with the character of Mr. Wil. liams, and, what was infinitely more important, favourably impressed with that Mission and with those labours in which he is engaged. Again he has gone forth, every heart in the land wishing him and the noble band, not of warriors, but a much more noble band,—wishing them God speed in the great work in which they are engaged.
He has gone to encounter perils and to encounter difficulties that the mind of a man like Mr. Williams can alone adequately grapple with ; but he has gone under a protection infinitely above that which human wisdom or human power can afford—the protection of his Divine Master. If other and yet more powerful considerations were wanting, it is by reflecting on the la. bours that he and those who have accompanied him are encountering, that we ought to be stimulated to greater exertions. We are doing something, but how little in comparison of that which these devoted men are effecting for the cause all so much at heart? But it is not only in the South Seas; we find the same motives for exertion in all the regions where the ministers of the London Missionary Society are actively engaged. We find that ministry extending its usefulness, and promoting
the great object that we have in view in the East and in the West; and here let me say, (and I say it with great pleasure,) that whatever may be our disappointment about negro apprenticeship, or any other of the inconveniences under which the negro may labour, the apprenticeship of Satan in the West India Islands I hope is drawing to a speedy termination. I hope the time will soon arrive when every sable inhabitant of that region will have the light of the Gospel communicated to his mind, partly through the instrumentality of Missionaries, and partly through the instrumentality of the resident clergy. And even in Madagascar, can we doubt that the Cross which has for a time been taken down will speedily re-rear its head, and, notwithstanding the infatuation of the Queen, so unfit an emblem of queens, and so unlike her Majesty who rules over this country, (loud applause,) that it will present in time a spectacle upon which the world may look with admiration. Of this consummation there can be no doubt, if you persevere steadily in your endeavours to support the Missionary Society in the labours that it has undertaken, and if this Society continues to co-operate with similar institu. tions in promoting the great purposes for which it was originally designed. I will not longer detain you.
I have been called, as I have said, to this station, by a circumstance in some degree accidental. I do not regret that I should have been placed here, not from any principle of personal aggrandisement, but because no man ought to regret that he is placed in any situation where he can render assistance towards a cause so glorious, and to a Society so infinitely deserving of support as this.
The Rev. W. ELLIS then read an abstract of the Report. The South Sea Mission had been favoured with many proofs of Divine compassion and support, and the gracious revival of spiritual religion among the churches at Tahiti had been mercifully continued. The Chinese still excluded the ministers of reconciliation from their country, but the blessing of God on the labours of the Missionaries in the Ultra Ganges Stations afforded great encouragement. In India, the revival of piety at some of the most important Stations encouraged to perseverance, though the idolatries of the coun. try were still sanctioned and promoted by the Supreme Government. The progress of the Siberian Mission was satisfactory. In Southern Africa the peace of the colony continued unbroken, and there were evident tokens of the Divine favour resting on the labours of the Missionaries, especially in Griqua Land. The Mission in the West Indies partook in the general advancement, though some of the most valuable labourers, including the Rev. John Wray, the venerable father of the West Indian Mission, had been removed by death. The darkness which hung over Madagascar at the last Anniversary still remained; and the storm of persecution then gathering had burst with fearful violence on the faithful but defenceless band of native Christians there. The following is the number of Missionary Stations and Out-stations belonging to the Society in different parts of the world, Missionaries labouring at the same, &c., &c. :
Stations and Missionaries. Assistants,
Native, &c. South Seas ....50.... 29........ 74 Ultra Ganges 5.... 7.
4 East Indies 319....49.. 388 Russia ..., 3.... 3,... 1 Mediterranean .. 1.... 1...... 0
28.... 23 West Indies....41..,,
. 18........ 15
ture of the year had been 76,8181. 168. 11d., being an increase beyond the expenditure of the year ending at the last anniversary to the amount of 13,6581. 78. 9d., and an excess beyond the income of the past year of 6,5631. 168. lld.
The Rev. ARTHUR TIDMAN said-The resolution which I have the honour to propose to the meeting is this
“That this meeting has heard with satisfaction and pleasure the abstract of the Report which has been read; that it presents to the Directors its congratulations on account of the greatly augmented operations of the Society; and that it cheerfully pledges itself to meet, by renewed and zealous exertion, the heavy additional expenditure which must result from the proceedings of the past year."
That most interesting document assured us that in the forty-fourth year of the Society's operations, many events of interest and importance have occurred, unknown in its previous history; and whatever expectations may have been thus excited, I will pledge myself, on the part of those who heard the details, that we have not been disappointed. When did the friends of modern Missions ever listen to a record of events so calculated to awaken their gratitude, to expand their hopes, and to stimulate their zeal ? That this Society should have added, including those adopted and those sent forth, nearly a hundred additional agents within the limits of a single year, is a new thing in its history. I hope it will be but the first of many such years. Another new thing! We have a vessel of our own in which our beloved brethren are now ploughing the mighty ocean to the far distant isles of the South, and this little sanctuary of the waters has been purchased, not out of the ordinary resources of the institution, but with the extra free-will offerings of the Christian public. Another new thing in our history! This enterprise has not only received the generous contributions of many of our liberal-minded nobility, but we have had the generous aid, also, of the first municipal body in the first city in the world and that aid has been given under the distinct conviction that the best and only effectual method to civilise the savage, to restrain the tyrannical, and to elevate the degraded, is to send the Gospel throughout the world. There would be no end to these novelties if I were to go through them. But they are all as delightful to our hearts as they are new to our ears. How altered are our circumstances to-day from those meetings which some of us were accustomed to attend in the days of our boyhood and our youth. The fathers of this Institution, whose names are embalmed in our affectionate remembrance, and whose works follow them, for many a year could only announce the tidings of bitter disappointment. One year, my elder brethren
South Africa.& } 36
505 The Directors had sent forth, during the past year, to various parts of the world, Missionaries with their families, amounting, exclusive of their children, to sixty-one individuals. The number of churches was 93, communicants 7,347, and scholars 36,954, being an increase on the year 1837 of 9 churches, 932 communicants, 2732 scholars. In relation to the funds, the Directors had to report, that the amount of legacies received during the year had been 3,7401. 68. 8d., being 4,0371. 58. 8d. less than the amount of legacies received during the preceding year. The contributions for the ordinary and special objects of the Society, of which the items would be specified in the larger Report, had been 66,5141.158. ld., making, with the legacies, a totalof 70,255l., being an increase beyond the income of the last year of 5,8821. 38. 7d. The expendi.
can remember, though some of us were see the martyr bleed, went home to learn then, perhaps, in our cradles, they had to the faith in which the martyr died. The tell the churches that their faithful bands of blood of the martyrof Demerara proved there Missionaries were captured by an enemy ; the seed of the Church ; and the blood which another year, that their self-denying and has newly stained the soil of Madagascar laborious agents were harassed and annoyed, will hereafter bring forth fruit thirty, sixty, and almost forbidden to proclaim the glad
yea, a hundred-fold.
Christian brethren, tidings to the Caffres and the Hottentots ; remember them that are in bonds as bound
her, that the doors of India were shut with them; but rejoice that while the iron and barred by British hands against the hangs around their neck, it leaves the spirit heralds of the Cross; another, that all their free ; rejoice that they were counted worthy Missionaries, with the exception of two, (one to suffer for the Lord's sake, and pray that of whom I am happy to see in this assembly others, when driven to the dens and caverns to-day,) had been forced by persecution or of that island, waxing confident by their discouragement to leave the islands of the bonds, may become bold to speak the word Southern Seas. These were years of without fear, so that the things that have mourning, lamentation, and woe; but we happened to them in Madagascar may turn have met together to-day, not to sigh over out rather to the furtherance of the Gospel. the withered blossoms of our hope, nor We have been carried with breathless ve. merely to refresh ourselves with the fra- locity by the abstract of the Report around grance these flowers exhale; but we are the world, and we have been permitted only assembled (thanks be to God, the Author just to glance at many lovely fields on which of all good) to feast richly on those fruits of a seraph might delight to linger. I think life which he has granted in such profusion this assembly will not be unwilling to reand variety, as the reward of our anxiety, trace their flight, and glance again, although our toil, and our prayer.
If it should be we can give but a glance, at some of those imagined, from what we have heard, that unearthly scenes. We first caught sight of there is at least one exception to this scene the distant islands that bestud the Pacific. of fertility and beauty-if it should be said And those islands most remote from our that there is one island over which the keen shores are perhaps the nearest to our hearts. blast of persecution has just passed, and Those were dear as objects of pity to the faleft behind it irreparable desolation—I can. thers of this Institution; by their moral transnot subscribe to such a sentiment. No; formation they are dearer to us; and by we have just seen a new thing indeed in the their advance in knowledge, piety, and history of the Society, but we have seen, truth, they will be dearer still to our childeven in that act of murder, [the martyrdom In the exhibition of Polynesian piety, of the honoured female, RAFARAVAVY, in there are two things characteristic of the Madagascar,] new evidence to the divinity very best times of the Christian Church, of our faith; we have seen that the diffusiveness and heroism. In that most Gospel which we propagate, with all our charming of all charming productions, in conscious weakness and imperfection, can that book that may be called, The Acts of make the saint, and sustain the sufferer. the Apostles of the Islands of the South, We have seen that the Gospel, applied by our beloved brother, who has so lately left the power of the Divine Spirit to the heart, us, presents an exhibition of renewed and is sufficient still to make poor, feeble, un- sanctified humanity, before which many of befriended woman the calm, the dauntless, us should sink into the dust of insignificance the triumphant martyr! It is true that that and self-abasement. Of that book a Chrisfair land of promise has been sorely stricken tian Bishop has lately said in this place by the blast, but let us not forget that the with so much candour and so much judge tree of life is planted there ; and though the ment, “ I would rather part with half the branches may be torn by a rude and ruth. folios of the fathers of my library, than with less hand, yet, when the race of persecutors the volume of the Missionary Williams.” shall have passed away, that tree, the germ In the islands of the Southern Seas we have of which is indestructible, shall thrive, and seen the true principle of apostolic piety. grow, and extend its branches over their “ Freely have they received, and freely have dishonoured ashes. We are told that when they given.' They have sent their prothe multitudes were brought forth to see perty, to the value of thousands, to our that foul deed, and when the property of treasury; and, what is better far, they have the martyred saint was presented to tempt parted with their best men, and parted with the violence and selfishness of the soldiers, them gladly, to spread the Gospel in the there was not found a hand to touch it-it regions beyond them. And thus we are re
a sacred thing. If I rightly under- minded, even in our own degenerate times, stand that conduct, it was language of the of a little fraternity who had turned from heart that the lips dared not express ; and I their idols, and received the Gospel but a entertain no doubt that many, who came to few months before, and who were then strug
sling for their existence with their persecutors; but of whom it was said, " From you sounded out the Word of the Lord, not only in Macedonia and Achaia, but also in every place your faith to God-ward is spread abroad." We find some discussing the great question, What is the best means of sustaining and extending the blessings of Christianity? Let us not lose our time or our temper in entering into such discussions, but let us work on in that way in which God is working with us mightily. We find others making high pretensions to the exclusive authority of propagating the Gospel, and referring to the authority of Rome for their credentials. We do not wish to seek the seals of office in that quarter. We desire no letters of commendation thence; we point to the islands of the South-they are our epistles, known and read of all men. But, turning from the South to the islands of the West, let us take a glance there. Those islands have their claims, their distinct, peculiar claims, on the Church of God in Britain. They appeal to our justice no less than our religion. There we, as a part of this guilty nation, have inflicted wrongs -deep and deadly wrongs—which admit of no restitution, but in the glory of the God we proclaim. We have heard it said, for the nine hundred and ninety-ninth time, that the negro, forsooth, is too dull to learn; too much like the brute to receive any useful instruction. To-day we have visited the schools of Demerara, and have seen the lamented and enlightened Governor of that Colony suspending the medals of merit around the necks of little negroes, who, with glistening eyes and lighted countenances, looked up, and seemed to say, “This is a new thing in Demerara.” We have heard it said just as often that the negro is too lazy to work. Money would have no attraction for him. The whip, and nothing but the whip, would make the negro toil. Let it be known by this assembly, that the congregation of our late lamented brother, Howe, in which there was not a single white man, contributed in one year more than 2001. for the spread of the Gospel. That is not a solitary case; other congregations of coloured people not quite so numerous have contributed in the same, and I think I might affirm, a still larger proportion. And when the day shall come, which I trust is not far distant, when industry shall have a fair competition, and when labour shall have an equitable reward, then I venture to predict, that at least the churches of that colony will not only be self-supported, but that they will prove valuable auxiliaries in the Missionary cause. If additional evidence were wanting, we have that evidence this morning, that all the benefits which the
generous public of Britain intended to secure for the negroes in the cheerful payment of twenty millions sterling—that all the blessings of education, religion, and immediate freedom, might be enjoyed not only without danger, but with the highest possible advantage to themselves and to the colonies. I am quite aware that I am not this morning addressing an Anti-Slavery Society. (Cries of yes, yes.) A friend says he thinks I am. Well, I recall the word, because, according to the interpretation that would be given of that sentiment, I do most cordially concur, and say that every society founded on the principles of the Gospel of Christ, breathing the spirit of Christ, and seeking the honour of Christ, must be an enemy to slavery in every place, and in every degree, and in every form. But what I meant to say was this, that instead of attempting to arouse the honest and righteous indignation of this assembly against that system of modified bondage, falsely named freedom, I should rather call them to rejoice that, notwithstanding the serious impediments has left to the spread of the Gospel, the Word of God is not bound, but has free course, and is glorified among them. I cannot, however, but seize the passing opportunity to express my thankfulness to God-and I am sorry, in so doing, for the presence of one gentleman in this assembly —to express my gratitude to God, who has put it into the hearts of one of the earliest and most active friends of this Society to do honour to his Christian principles, by declaring that his servants shall not only have the name of liberty, but that they shall be free indeed. Of the pecuniary sacrifice involved in such a determination, I will say nothing, because I am sure that those greatly miscalculate who calculate on the side of losing. The master who acts uprightly and generously will find his ample compensation in the fidelity, affection, and industry of his servant. But of the moral courage displayed in such an action I might say much, and much I would say, but for the regretted presence of one behind me. I know that our valued friend does not seek, and I am quite sure that he does not require the commendation of any man. No; the man that shall rise on the 1st of August from his pillow with a conviction that the blessing of the thankful and the prayers of the free are descending on him, can desire no higher re.compence, can taste no purer joy.
Although I have too long detained you, I should deem myself most criminal if I could overlook one land of Missionary effort, compared with which the population of any other field of our exertion, with the population of our own empire added, will sink into comparative insignificance~ I look to India -to India, which demands all the resources