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DELIVERED IN THE MECHANICS' HALL,
THE CHURCH OF ENGLAND ASSOCIATION FOR YOUNG MEN OF MONTREAL,
ON MONDAY EVENING, FEB. 16, 1857.
BEFORE We enter upon those particular objects which have been arranged for the Lectures to be delivered on the Mondays of the following weeks for this Association, in connection with which I am to address you this evening, it may be useful at this the commencement, to enter somewhat into a dissertation upon the nature and intent of such Associations in general, and the principles upon which this has been formed, the members of which, I, as Patron, now address.
The Association is called the “ Church of England Young Men's Association." This, like many other societies and associations for benevolent or religious purposes, of which we are every day hearing, is an institution of very recent date; and while many people are too easily interested in any such matters by the very attraction of their novelty, others are too apt to object to any new projects, especially religious associations on this very ground of their novelty ;-whereas no valid argument, either for or against them, can be raised on this score; but their merits or demerits must be argued on different principles. The first come
mencement of associations, more strictly of this particular character, appears to have been in the year 1836; in the November of which year “ The Church of England Working Men's Bible and Missionary Association” was established in the Borough of Southwark, which, as most of you no doubt know, joins the city of London, being just on the other side of London Bridge. The funds collected by the Association were at first divided between “The Church Missionary Society," and "The British and Foreign Bible Society.” Somewhere about 1840 the portion of the funds devoted to furthering the translation and circulation of the Holy Scriptures, was given to "The Society for Promoting Christian Knowledge,” the other portion still being assigned to “ The Church Missionary Society." In 1842 the first branch of this Association was formed; and, crossing the river Thames, was located in Finsbury Square. The committee of this branch thinking that it would be better to alter the name of the Association, which had hitherto been “ The Church of England Working Men’s Bible and Missionary Association," after a long discussion, and a number of names had been proposed, agreed on the following:
“ The Church of England Young Men's Association for Aiding Missions at Home and Abroad." Up to this period, as the movement had originated with the Church of England, so it had been under the management of its members and in connection with its principles. But some persons wishing lecturers of other communions as well as those of the Church of England to be engaged, and the management to be conducted on a different principle from that which had hitherto prevailed, there was a division; and, while the members of the Church of England kept to their original organization, and made the city of London their head quarters, those who dissented from them appeared in Westminster under the name of the “ Young Men's Christian Association.” Whatever may be the merit attaching to them, it appears then, that to the Church of England is due the credit of first originating such an organization for the young men of her communion; and since that time similar associations—whether on the principles of the “Church of England Young Men's Associaton" such as the one now formed by several of you present this evening, or on the
more general basis of the “ Young Men's Christian Association " as originated at Westminster-have multiplied both in England and elsewhere, and have, many of them, entered upon various and important religious and useful labours.
There has very recently appeared in the English newspapers an account of the new Bishop of London having preached a sermon, the occasion of a meeting of a branch of "The Young Men's Christian Association,” (that is the Association which is open not only to members of the Church of England, but to persons of different communions) at the Church of St. Alban, Wood street, London, near the General Post Office. It was on New Year's day, at a quarter before 7 in the morning and the service concluded with the administration of the Holy Communion of the Lord's Supper. It is mentioned in the account given of the service, that the Bishop, after speaking approvingly of its organization, expressed his satisfaction,
“If any were present who were not members of the Church of England, and that they would thus show their friendly feeling by being present to hear the Word preached by her ministers, and to join in her spiritual prayers, and in hearing those portions of the Word of God which our Prayer-book sets before us at this time. But added, as to any approaching the most sacred rite of Communion in our Church, that it was a matter which they must weigh well with themselves. All he said were invited to approach who were baptized, confirmed, or ready to be confirmed. He could well understand, he continued, that those who were members of any other national Church might rejoice to communicate with the Church of England while sojourning amongst us, without forsaking the church of their own country and home. He could understand, also, that many of our own countrymen, who from their early training had been kept apart from the Church, might feel a growing desire to unite with her as the great safeguard of Scriptural Christianity in the land, though they could not resolve to separate themselves entirely from past associations. Still he must say that it seemed to be an unsound state to hang doubt fully between one community and another not feeling really united with the Church, though loving its services and acknowledging that they did the heart good. There was always danger, said the Bishop emphatically, in hanging loose between two systems, and thus failing of the helps which either, according to its means afforded for the building up of the soul.” The Bishop,--the account goes on to say it must be owned, thus improved the occasion with great judgment and propriety,—withou compromise, and yet in all charity. Let us hope that his excellent appeal may have made some of his hearers “seriously lay to heart the great danger we are in by our unhappy divisions," and lead them to banish “ all hatred and prejudice, and whatsoever else may hinder us from godly union and concord.”
Now, for myself, I am always anxious to uphold, with all charity towards others, what I believe to be the truth, in matters of religion, and most fully agree in the wisdom of the remarks here given, as embodied in the sermon of the bishop of Londonthat there is always great danger in hanging loose between different systems, and thus failing of the helps which either, according to its means, affords for building up the soul in spiritual strength. While, therefore, I honor others who may differ from me, when I see them zealously striving to promote what they think the best means of Christian usefulness; so also, at the same time, I desire earnestly to labour, according to my own calling in the Gospel, for the furtherance of true religion and the gathering in of souls to Christ. Whatever shall appear in any way legitimately to advance the interest of that Church, of which I am å minister and chief pastor, to be a fresh channel of communication between any of her members, to afford means of usefulness for earnest and active spirits, seems a most legitimate field of action in which I may labour, --endeavouring not merely to promote union of members, but that full unity of spirit, which may be expected among those, who profess to worship together in one body and in one spirit,--to wait on the same ministry, and give utterance with the same voice to their prayers and praises before the Throne of Grace.
But, in the formatiou from time to time of any such Associations as this, or any others with kindred objects in view, viz. the furtherance of true religion, or, as it was stated in the distingtive name at first adopted by the Association in London, "The