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Letter from the Melbourne Society of the been impressed with a far higher degree
New Church, Victoria, Australia, to of respect for the New Church and her the Seventy-third General Conference, teachings than they were before, a
result which we cannot look upon as
otherwise than a great gain to the cause DEAR BRETHREN, -- In again exercis- of truth. ing the privilege of addressing you, and The number of members who have through you the General Church in our joined us during the year has only been beloved mother-country, we do so in the eight, but this by no means represents full assurance of the deep interest you en- the many who are interested and who tertain for the welfare of the young are likely to join at some future time. Societies which in these great southern Four marriages and twelve baptisms regions are slowly, but surely, passing have been solemnized during the year, through the struggles of infancy till while the services of the Church have they shall rise by the mercy of the been regularly maintained, and the Holy Divine Providence into that position Supper administered once a month with of usefulness and importance which an average of twenty-five communicants, they are without doubt destined to to the great comfort and benefit of our occupy in the future; for when we small congregations, numbering on an consider the wonderful and priceless average sixty-two in the morning and benefits in store for the human race seventy-seven in the evening, who enjoy through the instrumentality of a Church and fully appreciate the ministration of so directly “heaven-born as the New one so highly gifted with the power of Jerusalem now descending from God out setting forth the heavenly doctrines as of heaven, we cannot for one moment our much esteemed and respected pastor, doubt but that its catholic influence is than whom no more fitting instrument destined in the fulness of time to spread for the great work of proclaiming the untold blessings among the rapidly-in- glorious truths of the New Jerusalem creasing populations of these new and in this portion of the globe could possibly greatly favoured lands of the southern have been found. Indeed, but for our hemisphere.
certain knowledge that the New Church Although it is true that during the system (being essentially one of life past year we have had no very startling and not of mere profession) can only signs of outward progress in this our extend among a people in proportion as Melbourne Society, we have still much their wills and understandings are opened cause for thankfulness in the fact that and prepared to receive its truths, it not only are we slightly increasing our would be matter of great surprise that so membership, but the interest manifested little outward progress is made under by the friendly strangers who occasion. the favourable conditions which now ally attend our services is unmistakably exist amongst us.
But we feel secure evinced by a frequent repetition of their that this want of success is not so great visits.
as might be imagined, the more so that A course of free lectures given in several agencies are even now at work August and September last by the Rev. which cannot fail in helping to dissipate J. J. Thornton on seven successive the darkness and ignorance which preSabbath evenings were especially well vail regarding the doctrines ; and when attended, our little church having been we remember the great battle which is filled to overflowing on nearly every at present raging in the world between occasion. It is but bare justice to say religion and science, faith and materialthat these lectures gave the greatest ism, infidelity and Christianity, in which satisfaction to all who heard them, and warfare we well know that the truth will that they were listened to with profound ultimately prevail, we are deeply imattention, while the wish that another pressed with the great usefulness of even course might follow was very generally such small efforts as we are enabled to expressed on all sides ; and although the put forth when ranged on the right side result has not led to as great an of the controversy. augmentation of our Sunday congrega- Among the agencies alluded_to we tions as some of us were sang enough would instance the following. Durin to expect, we still feel confident that the last few years, through the muni. the majority of those who attended have ficence of one of our members, no less
than 220 vols. of the T. C. R. and 114 vols. documents collected by Dr. Tafel, while of the A. R. have been gratuitously dis- another has contributed the same work tributed amongst clergymen, students, to the most important suburban public and libraries, which seed thus broadcast library. amongst educated people cannot fail in One more agency, and not the least due time to fructify with lasting results. important, is the Sunday school, which
The same gentleman is now also is regularly held with an average attendadvocating and aiding the establishment ance of thirty children. The importof a book depột and agency for the sale of ance of an early training in the truth to New Church books in a busy thorough- the rising generation cannot be estimated fare in the city, which, in addition to too highly; and very great gratitude and, the depôt and library in the vestry of credit is due by the Church to the few our church, must in time greatly aid in disinterested teachers, who, under much disseminating a knowledge of the New difficulty and many discouragements, Church system. Again, a desire has have from the smallest possible beginbeen earnestly expressed by Societies in nings brought the school to its present two neighbouring colonies to take steps state—a singular but gratifying feature of for the initiation of a General Association which is that advantage is taken of it by of the New Church in Australasia, a several children whose parents are in no measure most desirable in itself when way connected with our Church, but who practicable as a means of giving unity seem to be free from the prejudice which and strength to the Church as a whole keeps so many aloof from communion in the various great colonies of Victoria, with us. New South Wales, South Australia, These different influences now at work Queensland, Western Australia, Tas, amongst us, together with the unremitmania, and New Zealand. An Associa- ted attention and care bestowed by our tion of this kind once formed would be esteemed pastor in every detail connectthe means of promoting general uses, ed with the interest of the Church at encouraging progress, and disseminating large, cannot, we feel sure, fail to be information in many ways now not even attended with important results in the thought of; and it is to be sincerely future if only with patience and hope hoped that the time is not far distant we can place our whole dependence in when such a federation of the New the Divine Providence, whose watchful Church may be established, so that eye neither slumbereth or sleepeth in through the united counsel of its mem- His beneficent care for our welfare and bers means may be devised for taking that of His true Church. advantage of the greater liberality of We have thankfully to acknowledge feeling which is undoubtedly growing the receipt of the usual number of copies up in the minds of the religious and of the Minutes of last year's Conference, thoughtful in every land to draw atten- which are always read with great interest tion to the teachings of Emanuel Sweden- by our members ; and on behalf of the borg, whose name, we are happy to say, Melbourne Society of the New Church is now regarded with respect at least we are sincerely yours, by hundreds who but a few years ago JAMES FLETCHER, Chairman. woull have joined the senseless cry Fred. A. MANDEVILLE, Secretary. of"enthusiast,” “mystic,” madman,
MELBOURNE, May 28, 1880. so generally bestowed upon him by the ignorant and prejudiced multitude, but whose echoes are happily fast dying away
Address from the General Conference of
the New Church in England to the in the greater and better light of the present day.
Society of the New Church in Mel. Another means of public instruction
bourne, Victoria, Australia. exists also in the fact that a complete DEAR · BRETHREN,—Your address, set of the works of Swedenborg pre- dated May 28, 1880, to the General Consented by this Society years ago occupy ference in Great Britain has been rea prominent place in the magnificent ceived, and I have been requested by public library of this city, some of the the President, the Rev. J. Bayley, A.M., volumes of which show signs of constant Ph.D., to prepare a reply.
One of our members has also pre- One of the privileges of the General sented to this institution a full set of the Conference is to receive addresses from
distant parts of the world and in spirit Knowing the benefits that are enjoyed to join hands and hearts with those who from the meetings of the representatives are yearning and striving in the same of the Church in General Conference,
It is delightful to learn of your we deeply sympathize with you in your regard for the Church in your mother. wishes to establish a General Association country, and we assure you it is heartily of churches in Australasia. The disreciprocated. We join with you in tances that separate the brethren and thanking the Lord for the continued the imperfection of the means of travel usefulness and
prosperity of your Church. will no doubt be great hindrances to Let us remember that Divine help often the carrying out of this very desirable comes in the form of human sympathy. project. It would scarcely be possible
Your experience as to the slowness of for you to meet annually, but it might the outward growth of the Church is be practicable to hold a Conference
Yet we ought not to be in every two or three years. the least discouraged, for the Lord is on We rejoice with you at the prosperity our side.
We have to perform our duty of the Sunday school. The Sunday for the Church in the present hour, full school is one of the distinguishing of trust for the coming time. We features of the new age, and it is to its should not allow discouragement to influence that for some time we shall overtake us when we see no progress, have to trust for the increase of the for Israel's Keeper neither slumbers nor numbers of our members. When young sleeps.
people have been carefully taught the We may gauge the healthiness of any doctrines of the Church they seldom institution by the earnestness of its lose their influence. The mighty work efforts to extend its operations and to accomplished by Sunday schools has establish similar institutions. Only a this year been recognised throughout healthy tree can produce seed-bearing our country by a series of centenary fruit. Missionary endeavour is always celebrations, for it is about one hundred a sign of health. Your distribution of years since Robert Raikes established 220 volumes of the “True Christian the first Sunday school. It will be Religion” and the “ Apocalypse Re. interesting to you to learn that our vealed " is an excellent sowing of seed Sunday-School Union has adopted a that must bring forth abundant fruit in system of Annual Scripture Examinathe Lord's own time. The effect pro- tions. The first examination under the duced by missionary lectures such as scheme was held in February of this you mention is often apparently very year. The subject was the bondage in insignificant. Yet the truth frequently Egypt. The scholars under fifteen years makes deep impressions even upon those of age were examined in the literal who at the time scarcely recognise its history, geography, etc., and those power. A volume of Swedenborg's above that age in the spiritual sense. writings serves as a constant reminder The examination was conducted by of the existence of the New Church, means of printed papers. About oneand if it provoke a perusal it may carry half of the scholars who presented them. conviction of the truth. The import- selves (about 315) passed the examina. ance of the distribution of the writings tion successfully. This plan has been of the New Church can scarcely be over- found exceedingly useful in stimulating estimated. We mark with pleasure both teachers and scholars, and it is proyour endeavour to establish a book bable that the examination will become depôt and agency in a busy thorough- a permanent institution in our midst. fare in your city. An attempt is being It is gratifying to hear of your conmade in this country to establish such tinued appreciation of the ministraa depôt in the centre of the city of tions of your pastor, who when with us Manchester. It is, however, considered was so highly esteemed both for his by some that our means would be more earnestness and personal worth. usefully spent in employing a colpor. desire to convey to him our congratulateur whose business shall be to distri. tions at his success, and our loving bute pamphlets and sell the writings of sympathy with him in his labours. the Church in our public markets and We again unite with you in thanking from house to house. Probably in a few the Lord for our many blessings, and at years both methods may be employed. this time especially for the bond of love
ing sympathy that unites the members years passed amounts to £397, 5s. 4d. of His Church. May we strive to hasten Another difficulty was the unattractive the day when “the knowledge of the nature of our services in consequence of Lord shall cover the earth as the waters there being no one in the Society comcover the sea.
petent to conduct the musical portion On behalf of the General Conference, of the ritual. This difficulty, however, faithfully yours,
is now a thing of the past : a lady (Mrs. JAMES ROBSON RENDELL. Wilks) who has recently settled in Countersigned,
Brisbane has generously devoted herself E. WHITEHEAD, to this work, and under her care the Secretary of Conference. singing is rapidly improving.
Services have been held every Sunday From the Brisbane Society of the New during the year, the average attendance
Church, through Rev. Mr. Thornton of in the morning being twenty-five, and Melbourne.
in the evening forty.
6th May 1880. The Lord's Supper was administered REV. AND DEAR SIR, -At our annual on the first Sunday in every quarter (in meeting, held on 18th April, it was accordance with our rules), the attendresolved that the secretary do write to ance of members on each occasion the General Conference of the New being very good. The rite of Baptism Church through the Rev. Mr. Thornton was administered to six children. of Melbourne, informing them of the Sunday school has been held by Mr. progress and position of the Society. Slater every Sabbath before the morning In accordance with which it is my service for the last six months, the pleasing duty to subniit the following average attendance being about ten for your perusal :
children. Since opening our new church on One work attempted since our last the 5th January 1879 our Society has report was written has been an effort continued to progress.
The number of to raise a stipend fund with a view to names on our roll remains the same. invite a minister from home. Our Several new members have been ad- efforts resulted in promises of support mitted; but this has been counter to the amount of £100 a year only, and balanced by the withdrawal of several consequently were not sufficiently sucof our oldest adherents, who have cessful to warrant the incurring so great unhappily been led away by the a responsibility as to invite out a delusions of spiritism.
minister already in charge of a Society. Our finances are in their usual satis. But the members of this Society, thinkfactory state, and we have much here to ing it possible that with a guarantee be thankful for. The demands upon of £100 a year certain, some young and the purses of members and friends have energetic minister who has no regular been continually on the increase, and appointment might venture here, deem have invariably been cheerfully re- it advisable to bring the matter under sponded to. The debt on the church the notice of the Conference. There is has been reduced by the sum of £50 by good reason to believe that the above the fortnightly payments to the Build- sum would be increased were a minister ing Society; and this sum, now bearing here, as many people favourably disinterest, will be continually augmenting posed towards the New Church keep hy that means as well as by the regular away from our services because there is payments. The interest on the loan no minister to conduct them. has been duly paid, and at the end of Our annual social meeting was held March there was a balance of £4, 11s. on the 23rd April, and was numerously lid. to the credit of the General Fund. attended, many strangers being present. Our finances, in spite of many obstacles, After the tea our leader (Mr. Garsden) have shown considerable elasticity; the gave a short address on the views and incomes for 1877, 1878, and 1879 were teachings of the New Church. The rest respectively £54, £60, and £79, and of the evening was devoted to music. for the first quarter of the present year Several
and professionals the income was at the rate of £100 per assisted our organist, and a very enjoy
The total sum raised for all able evening was spent. Hoping that purposes during the three and a half our Society will continue to progress
and grow in usefulness, I am, rev. is a matter for regret that you have sussir, very respectfully yours,
tained a loss, and from such a cause ; but H. HURMAN, yours is not the only community which Hon. Sec. Brisbane Society at some time or other has uttered a of the New Church. similar complaint. Your list of members
has been diminished by the withdrawal From the General Conference of the New without doubt, find that the spiritual life
of those of whom you speak; but you will, Church in Great Britain, to the Society of your Society has not suffered therefrom. of the New Church in Brisbane,
The tendency of New Church truth is Australia.
to make men eminently practical, and BELOVED BRETHREN,– Your address at the same time trustful in the good to the New Church in Great Britain has providence of God, and in the reality of duly reached us, and I have been re- the life after death ; but some minds quested by the President of the Con- seem so constituted as to fasten upon ference to reply thereto.
the spiritual philosophy of the Church, Good news of the Church in distant and neglect the doctrine of life and use. lands is always heartily welcomed by We are sure of the existence of a king
Although separated from you by dom that is not of earth ; but some men many miles of ocean, we yet feel our- there are who strive to have disorderly selves closely bound to you in the intercourse with the departed. But bonds of a common faith. We know such communication, if it be established, that you teach and esteem those sacred cannot but result in the debasenient of truths which the New Church through- the mind and faculties of those who do out the world is seeking to promulgate. that which is injurious and unlawful. But though we estimate very highly Earnest members of the Lord's Church the privilege of possessing and teach- will regard the moments of life as too ing the holy truths of the Church, valuable to be wasted in the profitless yet we do not close our eyes to the and dangerous pursuits of spiritism. It fact that the whole world is the vine- is gratifying to learn that the finances yard of the Lord, and that all who of your church are in a sound and in righteousness and love labour to lead satisfactory condition. There are various their fellow-men into goodness of life, modes in which the zeal of the members are in their degree doing the work of of a Society may be estimated, and one the Lord's New Church.
of no slight value is the cheerfulness We regret to learn that you have ex. with which they give of their substance perienced some trials in your Society, to the support of the Church. We trust but we thankfully perceive that you that your past financial success may have been sustained by the good Pro- stimulate you to the accomplishment of vidence of the Lord, and we are glad even greater things ; and we shall rejoice to know that a spirit of unity and love if your desire to secure a minister and prevails amongst you. The progress pastor be hereafter fulfilled.
We are of a Society must always be a source of glad to learn that you are casting your delight to all wellwishers of the Church. eyes toward England, and that you Signs of external progress are very often, express your wish to receive some we believe, certain indications of spirit- earnest young man from the fatherland. ual advancement. Hence the progress If you, as you are evidently doing, of a Society may be viewed under two promote and secure a proper and adeaspects. It may enlarge its bounds quate pastoral fund, Divine Providence and increase the number of its members; will doubtless grant you the consummathis is of no little importance. But the tion of your desire. Already Australia true strength of a Society greatly depends has received from our shores an excellent upon the spiritual condition of those and esteemed minister, and we trust who constitute it. May those who from that some other may be found who shall Sabbath to Sabbath gather around your come to promote the progress and wellrespected leader grow strong in “the being of the Church in your country. faith that worketh by love." You state We have noted the average attendance that you have gained several new mem- at your services ; if it be small in com. bers, but that you have lost others parison with other and larger churches, through the influence of spiritism. It still, if the elements and results of spiritual