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Mr. Williams from Lymington has succeeded him, with every promise of usefulness. Mr. Hawkes, who had commenced his work so hopefully at St. Helier, has been compelled by returning feeble health to retire. Mr. Weatherley, however, immediately followed him; and he seems to have made a favourable impression on the town and congregation, and will, it is hoped, prove a blessing. Applications for help from Great Torrington, an old church needing temporary aid, and from that at Sheerness, a church formed in 1868, from which time Mr. Hadler has been zealously labouring there, have been favourably responded to by your Committee; and a small grant has also been made to the infant cause at Aldershot.
In the paper read at Newcastle your Secretary recommended the adoption of some systematic plan for establishing one, two, three or more churches every year in our leading towns and cities. One opportunity has presented itself of making an effort in that direction. A few Baptists at Tunbridge Wells-a Watering-place growing in population and importance every year-had formed themselves into a church, and were meeting for worship in the Town Hall. Your Secretary visited them and preached to them one Sunday, to a congregation of about seventy in the morning and one hundred and fifty in the evening. He subsequently met the deacons of the church, and secretaries of the Kent and Sussex Association, for conference, and as the result, the Association have promised to raise £50 per annum and the church £100 per annum, and your Committee to grant £50 per annum towards the support of a minister. The Rev. W. K. Armstrong, B.A. has consented to become their pastor, having preached to them for several Sundays with growing acceptance, and it is confidently hoped that soon a vigorous and self-sustaining church will be the result. Thus by the action of your society the aid of the Association was evoked, the people encouraged to greater liberality, and the church has been started under such auspices as will, it is hoped, ensure permanent success. Your Committee trust that this is the first of many such cases, and that in efforts of this kind they shall receive the hearty sympathy and liberal support of the churches,
Some of the Associations connected with the Society employ colporteurs in districts in which there is little or no prospect of raising a cause. One is working in the Western division of the Isle of Wight. He is energetic and devoted, and Fell fitted for his work. He has been on the ground for five months, and during that time has sold 312 Bibles and Testaments, and 3,082 books containing sound religious truths. He has distributed a large number of tracts, about which he is continually asked questions by their readers; and he is constantly asked to visit the sick, to read and to pray with them. He labours in a district which contains more than a third of the population of the Island, and in which there is not a single bookshop.
Your Committee are pleased to find that in the Notts Auxiliary several feeble churches have been taken under the fostering care of the larger churches, by the members of which they are regularly and efficiently supplied, and therefore sustained at very small cost; and that in the Southern Auxiliary a successful attempt has been made to unite three small churches under one efficient minister. These are movements in the right direction, which, it is hoped, will be venliinliad
In IRELAND, during the past year, the work of your Missionaries has been signally blessed ; more so perhaps than in any single year since the formation of the Baptist Irish Society. A wave of revival seems to have passed over the island, the effects of which have been felt in almost every direction. From Athlone, the very centre of Ireland, Mr. Berry, who has been for nearly fifty years connected with the mission, writes in terms of the highest joy and gratitude, stating that this has been the happiest year of his life. United meetings for prayer and addresses are being held weekly, and a general spirit of enquiry has been awakened. Even in WATERFORD the influence has been felt. Mr. Douglas, formerly a student in Regent's Park College, who settled in the city about six months since, writes :-“I have been cheered by having two come to a knowledge of the truth, and perhaps a third, and several others are enquiring the way of life. Every week we have been holding united evangelistic meetings. The attendance at these meetings is truly amazing. The like has never been seen in Waterford. This exhibition of unity among professing Christians has made a wonderful impression on the masses of the people and especially on the Roman Catholics. There is a truly glorious work going on in Waterford, and though our Church has not had as yet very much direct increase, still the work of the Lord is progressing and wanderers are being led within the fold.” Respecting Cork, however, there is little that is encouraging to report; Mr. Skuse has just recently resigned his connection with the Society, and left but a small congregation. Mr. Skelly has been labouring faithfully and diligently in Queenstown and its neighbourhood, amid small congregations, it is true, and with feeble manifest results, but the seed has been scattered and it cannot be in vain.
It is in the north of Ireland that the most glorious results have been experienced; in what is called the Protestant part of Ireland, where, however, a large portion of the population is Roman Catholic, and the Protestantism is, to a great extent, merely formal. In this part of Ireland the majority of your missionaries are located. At TUBBERMORE, Mr. Carson, the son of Dr. Carson, who still lives in the memory of Baptists, has baptized during the year fiftyeight persons. In this month's Chronicle is a most interesting letter, full of details of the year's work, well deserving perusal. At BALLYMENA, Dr. Eccles has been labouring indefatigably and successfully. The prayer meetings have been crowded. The country meetings have been well attended. Young and old have been working as well as praying, and during the year fifty-one persons have been baptized, and it is felt that the work is only beginning. Twelve months since a dozen was a large Sunday morning congregation; and this change has been effected in a district in which the bigotry is as great as in any part of Ireland.
At GRANGE CORNER, Mr. Eccles has been similarly blessed, although not to so great an extent. Under the weight of meetings demanded by the people, his strength has well nigh broken down. During the year, twenty-five have been baptized.
At BANBRIDGE, although there is nothing of special interest to report, the ordinary machinery is in full working. The meetings are well attended ; strangers are being attracted to them. The Bible classes are encouraging, and there is general activity among the young in distributing tracts and inviting others to attend the means of Grace. Fourteen have been baptized.
At BALLIGAWLEY, Union prayer meetings have been held, and conversions have resulted. Mr. McDowell writes, “ It would delight your hearts to see so many every Thursday evening at our Union Prayer Meetings. I cannot tell all the calls I am getting to preach the Gospel. There would be work for another preacher in this district."
Several of the missionaries have, during the past year, been laid aside for months by severe indisposition, viz. :-Mr. Taylor, of Tandragee; Mr. Ramsay, of Clough, and Mr. Harris, of Conlig; but they are now convalescent. There has been in some districts a large amount of poverty and sickness, through the severity of the weather, but the work of the Lord has progressed, and the aggregate baptisms have exceeded two hundred.
The CABIN MEETINGS, as they are called, constitute one of the most interesting features of the work of your missionaries in the north of Ireland. The value of their labours is not so apparent in large churches or congregations in the towns, as in the meetings held in farm-houses, or elsewhere in the wild, sparsely populated outlying districts, four, six, or even ten miles from the town where the missionary resides. Most of the missionaries have from six to ten sub-stations, at which such cabin meetings are held. These farm-houses are generally in desolate spots, within sight of which scarcely a dozen abodes can be found, and yet on a week-day evening, congregations are gathered in them, ranging from twenty to ninety persons. Many of the people walk three, four, or even more miles to attend these meetings, and the united congregations of some of the missionaries amount to five hundred, and of one or two, to eight hundred or a thousand persons. Such congregations are limited only by the number and strength of the missionaries, and might be indefinitely multiplied if missionaries were supplied. One new district has recently been occupied. Mr. McAlonan, an Irishman, formerly connected with the Aberdeenshire Coast Mission, and very successful in his work, has recently been engaged by your Committee, and stationed at Ballymony, within a few miles of the place of his birth ; and already five have been, by his labours, brought to Jesus. To visit these cabin meetings, to note the attention of the people, the eagerness with which they listen to the Gospel, and the distances they walk on dark and wintry nights to hear the word, would convince the most sceptical of the value of the Irish mission, and call forth their sympathy and help; especially if it be remembered that these outlying districts are visited by your missionaries only, and but for them the souls of these poor country people would be utterly neglected, or left to the tender mercies of the Roman Catholic priest.
But there are also permanent results of the labours of your missionaries and settled churches in the central stations, as well as these scattered cabin meetings. For instance, at Derryneil, a hamlet not far from the base of the Morne Mountains, where the population is thin and widely scattered, may be seen as pretty a chapel as one could desire, capable of holding more than two hundred persons, and a neat minister's house; a church of ninety members, a Sundayschool of forty children, and a Bible-class of twenty scholars, with seven substations, the aggregate congregation of which amounts to five hundred persons, the whole the result of ten years work of Mr. Macrory. At Tandragee, Grange Corner, Banbridge, Clough, Donaghmore, and other places, similar results may be witnessed—a testimony to the worth and solidity of the work of your mission in Ireland. Notwithstanding the opposition and the bigotry everywhere found, the opposing influences, ecclesiastical and political, everywhere rife, and the proverbially versatile and unstable character of the people, these are monuments of the Mission's triumphs, and of the power of the Grace of God.
In the presence of these facts, your Committee confidently appeal to the churches for their continued and hearty support. The Society needs and deserves such support. In Ireland there is a thirsting for the water of life, and any amount of agency might be successfully employed. Your missionaries there are faithful, diligent, hard-working men, full of love for souls, and able, with all freedom and boldness, to present Christ as a Saviour to all that will accept Him. They have laboured well, and not in vain. During the past year they have baptized hundreds of converts, and an earnest spirit of enquiry still pervades their congregations. Cries for new missionaries proceed from various quarters; the people everywhere flock to hear the word ; the fields are white unto the harvest. Will not the churches prove themselves equal to the occasion, cast their money into the treasury of the Lord, lay their superfluous wealth on His altar, and with one voice cry unto the Lord of the Harvest to send forth labourers into the harvest ?
In Great Britain, the necessity for renewed and increased exertions is equally great. In the rural districts ignorance, ritualism, bigotry, and intolerance prevail, and it will require the utmost efforts of the friends of evangelical truth to hold their own. Feeble churches throughout the country are struggling for existence, and need all the sympathy and help that Christian benevolence and self-denial can afford. New centres of population are continually being created which ought to be cared for by the Church of Christ, and there are more than two hundred towns in which the Baptists have made no sign. To meet these demands some new plans must be devised, or the old ones more vigorously worked. At present it is difficult to prevent a decrease in the income of the Society. Year after year its old attached friends are passing away, their names disappearing from the subscription lists, and their places are not supplied. Something must be done to awaken new sympathies, and enlist new supporters, in order to maintain the present operations of the Society, which must not be curtailed, but should be immensely extended. To this end your Committee have accepted for six months the services of Mr. Murphy, látely of Coleraine, to canvass for new subscriptions, and also to break up new ground, and visit the districts from which, at present, few or no contributions are received. For him they ask from the ministers and deacons of the churches, a kind reception and hearty co-operation. There ought to be no difficulty in doubling the income of the Society. In the year 1842, the income of the Baptist Home Missionary Society reached £3,000. Last year, the contributions to this Society and the sums raised in all the Associations for Home Mission work, amounted to considerably less than £6,000. During the interval, the wealth of the denomination must have been multiplied many fold, and the income of the Foreign Missionary Society has been increased by £18,000. For that Society collections and subscriptions are gathered as a matter of course, and anniversary services form part of the yearly arrangements of nearly every church in the denomination. For the Home Mission separate application direct from the Society has to be made to almost every church, and in many cases to every subscriber. With a few honourable exceptions it is an uncertainty any year whether an appeal from this Society can be entertained by a Church, and it is continually thrust out by some Chapel case, Town Mission, or Local charity. For want of some united action on the part of the Churches the same districts have in many cases to be visited twice or thrice in the course of the year at much labour and cost, and into many churches it is impossible to effect an entrance. Surely this ought not to be the case. To care for one's own country is to follow the example set us by Christ Himself. To begin at Jerusalem is to obey the command given by the risen Lord to His apostles and by them most religiously observed. To seek the spiritual welfare of one's countrymen is the highest patriotism, for “Blessed is the people whose God is the Lord,” and to create a church at home is to create a spring of Christian benevolence which may help to irrigate the most distant and arid land. Your Committee surely then do not ask or expect too much when they request the churches to make for the British and Irish Home Missionary Society arrangements, year by Fear, as complete and regular as those made for the Foreign Missionary Society.
Nor do your Committee exclude from this request the Churches in the Associations that do their own Mission work. They would not for a moment interfere with that work, nor lessen its efficiency. The Associations can work their own districts far better than the Society can, and it is natural that they should do more for their neighbours than for strangers at a distance. But their sympathies and help should not be confined to their own neighbourhood. If in the counties which are strong and wealthy the help of the churches is to be confined to such counties, how are the wants of the destitute districts of the country to be met? Where is the Society to find money for such destitute districts if the churches in the strong and wealthy counties are closed to its appeals? Contributions should flow from all quarters into its treasury, as into some central fund, from which help may be derived by the destitute districts whose neighbours are as destitute as themselves.
Your Committee therefore ask with all seriousness and earnestnees, that in every church there should be an annual collection for the Society, and some person or persons found who may seek weekly, monthly, or annual subscriptions; that the Secretary of every Association, or some other person chosen by the Association, represent the Society in that Association, and be a member of the Committee of the Society; that in connection with the Secretary of the Society each representative member of Committee arrange as far as possible for meetings and deputations in churches of the Association which he represents; and that all cases seeking help from the Society be expected to be recommended by the Association in the district in which they are respectively situated. Your Committee further recommend that in connection with such representative members of Committee, the Associations shall seek out towns or districts in which a church is needed, and in which parties may be found to undertake its management, and that the Society from time to time, as its funds will permit, shall undertake the establishment of a church, and the partial or entire maintenance of a minister in such districts. Only let some such proposal as this be heartily responded to by the churches, and then the society will be regarded by the body as part of itself, fresh life will be infused into the