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SUFFOLK AND NORFOLK ASSO.
CIATION OF PARTICULAR BAPTIST CHURCHES.
The annual meetings of this association for the year 1880 were held at Stowmarket, on Tuesday and Wednesday, June 1st and 2nd. The weather was showery on both days, but the attendance was, notwithstanding, very good.
The proceedings commenced on Tuesday morning at 10.30, in the spacious tent of the association, when the representatives of the various churches, with other friends, assembled. Mr. W. Brown, of Friston, the moderator for the year, presiding:
After the meeting had been opened in the usual manner, Mr. Brown delivered his opening address. He remarked that he was the oldest member of the association, not in actual years, but in membership, having been connected with it ever since its birth, fifty years ago. He explained that the association arose at a time when there was some excitement and jealousy for the truths of the Gospel, and, as Paul and , Barnabas once disagreed, a disagreement arose between the members of a former association. When the association was formed, he said, the cry of the country was—what will these feeble Jews do? For there were only six or seven ministers and churches who were connected with it. He looked back, however, with thankfulness to the formation of the association, and with gratitnde to the good men who were instrumental in starting it. The association could look back over prosperous times, for it had not existed in vain; many hundreds of pounds had been gathered by it and devoted to the cause of Christ, while large numbers of souls had been prepared for their everlasting rest. Even from the little church of which he had been pastor, there were three men in England, one in America, and one in Australia, who had gone forth as ministers, preaching the same truths as we held, and their churches had ever proved nurseries for the servants of Christ. The moderator also referred to tnose who had been connected with the association as deacons and messengers from the various churches, and
then went on to speak of their position as English citizens, a position which he believed the Strict Baptists of Suffolk held with credit and honour. All of them who had had a Christian spirit in their hearts had been wounded at the conduct of the English Government during the past three or four years, and they felt thankful to the Liberal press that during this time it had not ceased to hold up the duty of all Christians in these matters. As ministers of the Gospel, some of them had been put into a strait about praying for the Government; and he confessed that all he could say was,
“ Turn the hearts of men, as Thou dost the hearts of kings, as rivers of water, whithersoever Thou pleasest, and scatter the people that delight in war.” They were all grieved at the spirit of boasting and war mani. fested by the late Premier; but, blessed be God, all these things are in our Father's hands. With all the boasting of the late Prime Minister, he was ashamed that the Government showed so much our weak side; for the calling out of a reserve before even a war commenced was a sign, not of strength, but of weakness. When, besides this, they reflected on the havoc, the sorrow, and the misery which had been caused in two continents, they were glad that a great political change had come. Who among them but was glad that a Liberal Government had been returned, and that they had done their share in returning it? (Hear, hear.) Their prospects were indeed brighter than they had been politically for the last six years. He was glad that there were a few Liberal clergymen and abundant Liberal churchmen who were willing to give them their political, national, and parochial rights. He hoped, though the Liberal clergymen were few, some of the fat livings which fell to the disposal of the Government might fall to them; for they were worthy men, who did not think the foot of a dissenting minister would defile a churchyard. They could rejoice that under the new Government their rights and privileges as citizens would be likely to meet with consideration and respect. Lastly, the Moderator spoke of their faith as the ground of their union. By many denominations they might be looked upon
as a set of 'Antinomians; but they held their doctrines in righteousness, as they were held by the Piedmontese of old, and by the great reformers, Luther, Calvin, Melancthon, and John Knox. These great men were Calvinists -holding the same principles as they did to-day. Some of the greatest divines of the Protestant Church had been Calvinists, but they could go further back still; for they held their doctrines as the doctrines of the New Testament. They received their laws not from Solon, or Socrates, or Lycurgus, the great legislators of ancient Greece, but from God, whose law was a perfect law, and whose gospel was a perfect gospel. Believing their views to be right, they would like to see all who professed themselves Christians admitting that their sentiments were the sentiments of the Gospel ; but they did not hold their faith in hatred or malice against those who differed from them. Others had as much right to think for themselves as they, and while they were Calvinistic Christians, they loved all who loved their Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ. But feel. ing that they were in the right road, holding the right faith, and trusting to the right leader, they hoped and were confident that their sentiments would last as long as the world stood, giving glory to God, and bringing happiness to men.
The articles of association were then read in the usual way, after which abstracts of the letters from the churches were read by various ministers.
Mr. S. K. Bland, of Ipswich, commenced the reading with the letter from
Wattisham. Our aged and muchesteemed pastor, Mr. John Cooper, has resigned and retired from stated labour. A meeting to commemorate the fiftieth year of his ministry at Wattisham was held, October 1, 1879, when a testimonial of £212 was presented to him. He had been succeeded by Mr. Joseph Wilkins, late of Chatteris, who had set to work with much earnestness. The congregations were increasing, and at the village stations overflowing. Death had made great inroads, five members having been carried off. The pastor works in six villages and in the schools. Present membership 110, scholars in Sunday-school 212.
Beccles.—The pastor had left. Sunday congregations moderate. Week evening prayer meetings thin, but Sunday meetings well attended. Death had been ac
tively engaged in their midst. Amongst those deceased being a worthy deacon, and another brother in his ninety-third year, who for fifty-nine years had set forth the word of life in his walk among them; also the widow of their late venerable pastor Mr.G.Wright), whose name is still fragrant among them. She was a true mother in Israel. The Sabbath school well attended, with good staff of teachers. Baptised 2, received 2, dismissed 2, joined churches of other orders 2, died 11; number of members 147, children in school 180.
Halesworth.—The pastor's proclamation of the glorious gospel of divine grace continued to be appreciated. The church continued in peace. The attendances had declined during the severe winter, but on the whole were rather better than in past years. We are often amazed that the Spirit's power is manifested in so small & measure in the calling and conversion of sinners, while the united confession of the godly is, that they are fed with the finest of the wheat. The Sabbath school still increasing. Five villages are occasionally preached in. The prayer meetings well attended. The small additions to the church were regretted. Baptized 1, received by letter 1, dismissed 1, died 1, separated i, number of members 56, scholars 51.
Rattlesden.-No letter. Statistics : baptized 4, received 4, restored 1, separated for non-attendance 2, died 4; number of members 99, scholars 104, village stations, 3.
Friston.-Two deacons had died in one month. The aged pastor, however, had been able to preach with renewed vigour, and his services had been appreciated. Congregations not quite so large. bath school a source of encouragement; the singers also added much to the comfort of the congregation. Separated 1, died 3 ; number of members 46, scholars 74. Grundisburgh.
Congregations had varied considerably, but afternoon attendances and the average attendance at the Lord's Supper were very good. Cottage meetings at Hasketon and Bealings held successfully, and about 400 tracts had been distributed weekly and fort, nightly in five parishes. Sunday school numbered 220, including senior classes, Died 6, separated 2, dismissed 2, received by letter 1, baptized 6; present member. ship 161.
Mr. Dexter, Grundisburgh, then took up tine reading :
Norton.—The report was a moderately cheerful one. The Sunday school was not 80 prosperous as was desired, but the congregations were about the same as last year, and cottage meetings profitable seasons. Baptized 1, received 3, dismissed 1, separated 4, present members 48, scholars 25.
Laxfield.-Mr. George_Webb has resigned the pastorate. There seemed a desire to hear the word preached, and the congregations are on the increase, but the prayer meetings are not so well attended as could be wished. Sabbath school in a healthy condition. Dismissed 1, died 1, number of members 204, scholars 177. (The Sabbath school jubilee was to be held this week; commenced by that honoured servant of God, Mr. George Spratt, more than fifty years ago.)
Waidring field.- Attendance not so good during the winter, but had improved lately. The absence of some brethren from prayer meetings was lamented. The Sabbath school was healthy. Baptized 1, received 2, died 2; present number 87, scholars 78.
Somersham.-Peace and harmony prevailed, but the spirit of indifference and neglect on the part of some members was regretted. Some useful members had left the neighbourhood. The prayer meetings well attended ; congregations encouraging. The pastor preaches in two other villages. Sabbath school about the same as last year, but the supply of teachers short.
Cransford.—The preaching proves acceptable, especially at the stations in six villages. The week night prayer meetings are discontinued, the friends being more scattered than formerly. Morning congregations thin, but afternoon more en. couraging. Sunday school has increased. Sickness and death have been busy, and there was much worldly-mindedness and fleshly indulgence, which gave some of them pain to see. Received 2, separated 1, died 2, present number 45, scholars 26, village stations 6.
Occold.-Sunday morning congregations thin, but afternoon better. Sunday evening prayer meetings well attended. Con. gregations had rather decreased.
Baptized 1, dismissed 1, separated 2, villages preached in 2, children in school 40, number of members 45.
Mr. J. Wilkins, Wattisham, then took up the reading of the letters.
Pulham St. Mary.--Much sickness and many deaths caused fluctuating congrega.
tions. Peace and brotherly love continue, and the prayer meetings have been much enjoyed. Our pastor, in a general way, has been very poorly, but has kept in harness. Died 2, present number 70, scholars 45.
Stoke Ash.-" Out of the fulness of Jesus our souls are richly fed under the able ministry of our beloved pastor, and the bedewing influence of the Spirit is not suspended. We enjoy a spiritual secret communication between God and our souls ; our ways, cases, and wants are not hid from the Lord; they are pourtrayed through the ministry of His word. Our Sabbaths are sacred seasons-gem days of the week.” Prayer meetings have been established in the villages. Congregations good and attentive; church meetings and ordinances well attended. Baptized 4, died 4; present number 191, scholars 100, village stations 8.
Sutton.-Though our prayer meetings are often thinly attended, they have been refreshing seasons, and not without proof that it is to a prayer-hearing and answering God we come. Besides those who have united with us, there are others we should welcome. Sunday morning congregations and prayer meetings thin. Baptized 5, withdrawn from 2, died i
1; present number 52, Sunday scholars 39, one village station.
Rishangles.—Our esteemed pastor has been restored from sharp personal illness and upheld through long family affliction. His beloved wife now lies on the brink ready to depart, but fearing no evil.” Their valued superintendent is removing, and parted with most regretfully. Great attention paid to the Word; the minds of some evidently wrought on by the Holy Ghost. Three are proposed for baptism. Through removals and deaths the congregations are not so large. Sabbath school well sustained; prayer meetings not well attended. Dismissed 1, withdrawn from 4, died 2; present number 117, Sunday scholars 73.
Bungay.—The pastor feels the infirmi. ties of age.
Congregations about the same as usual, but a good deal of sickness in some measure explained a decline in attendance at week evening meetings. More zeal and earnestness were desired. Sabbath school well conducted and encouraging; Baptized 1, received 1, died 2; present number 74, Sunday scholars 44.
Charsfield.-Tribulation had resulted in more prayerfulness and unity. Mr. Titus
So we are
Field, of Hadleigh, had become pastor, and congregations were encouraging, many young people attending. Village stations nicely attended, prayer meetings improved, Sabbath school about the same as last year. Received by experience 3, by letter 2, separated 3, died 2, dismissed 2, present number 65, scholars 56, village stations 5.
Mr. Dickerson continued the reading with the letter from
Walsham-le-Willows.—Mr. W. Barnes, their aged former pastor, had occasionally supplied the pulpit, and usually presided at the Lord's table. Mr. Knell, of Ringshall, usually preached to them. Lost by death 1 ; present number 72, scholars 69.
Hadleigh.-The letter said that Mr. Titus Field having left for another sphere, after eleven years amongst them, they were without a pastor. Received by experience 1, dismissed 2, lost by death 1; present number 59, scholars 48.
Tunstall.—Mr. Wm. Gill, of Willenhall, Staffordshire, had accepted the pastorate, and his work had been blessed by conversions. The church enjoyed unbroken peace, and the prayer meetings were well attended. Sunday school going on well, and a mutual improvement class in the winter evoked much interest. Baptized 3, received 3, dismissed 3, separated 3, died 2, present number 116, scholars 93, 5 villages are preached in; good numbers are gathered, and the word is heard gladly.
Fressing field.—The past year had been to most of them a trying one with regard to things temporal, with a great need for plenty of faith and patience, and the * promised shoes of iron and brass.” At the commencement of the year, the pastor was brought low by painful affliction. Congregations kept up well; attendance at village stations generally good; Sabbath school prospering.
"Some do not attend our prayer meetings, are often absent from the sanctuary on the Lord's day, do not help the church to bear any of its burdens: they are working not at all.” May the Lord have mercy on them, and make them fruitful, lest at the last they be "taken away
as withered branches. Baptized 2, received by letter 1, dismissed 2, died 1; present number 75, scholars 86.
Hoxne.—Under trying circumstances a few had held on, but some had left and others had grown cold. Mr. William Harris, who had supplied the pulpit three years, will shortly leave. Morning con
gregations thin, afternoon better. A good school, but hard up for teachers. Dismissed 1, died 1; present number 42, scholars 80.
Lowestoft.-—"A little church in the wilderness" had been kept in peace, and the Gospel had been the power of God to it. Mr. H. Knights principally supplied the pulpit. Added 0, lost 0, " as we were."
Mr. Suggate read the remaining five letters :
Aldringham. - Still without a pastor, but not deprived of the word. Our much esteemed brother, S. K. Bland, has laboured much amongst us, and our hearts have been often cheered and refreshed by that God-glorifying gospel, which, through grace, he has been enabled to proclaim, which has been, we believe is, and earnestly pray may still be blessed to poor sinners. Preaching in our new chapel at Aldeburgh has been continued on Sunday evenings, and is well attended. Baptized i, received by letter 2, restored 1, present number 55, children in school 61.
Sudbourne.-Congregations good, especially on Sunday afternoons, and the pastor's kindness much approciated, as the congregation, mostly labourers, are unable to support him as they desire to do. Received by letter 1, died 2; present number 27, scholars 40.
Bradford St. George.--Members générally have taken a lively interest in God's cause, and unity and peace were enjoyed. Congregations mostly good and highly attentive; chapel well filled on Sunday afternoons. Two candidates are proposed for baptism. Sunday school goes on well. Received by experience 1, separated 2, died 1; present number 60, scholars in school 60, teachers 7.
Orford Hill, Norwich.-The pastor's preaching much appreciated, and successful. A spirit of union and love prevailed. A tract lending society, a ladies' working society, and a mutual improvement association have been established. A cottage service has also been well attended. Prayer meetings and week evening meeting services pretty well attended. Sabbath school not prosperiug. Died 1, baptized 9, received by letter 10, restored 6; present number 112, scholars 35.
Stowmarket. The church welcomed the association. The attendances during the winter were not so good, owing to the affliction of some and the old age of
others, and more signs of spiritual life were anxiously looked for. “A revision of the church book bad resulted in the removal of fifteen names, of whom nothing had been heard for years. Prayer meetings and village services not so well attended as could be desired. Sunday school not prosperous. Baptized 3, received by letter 2, erased from list 15, died 2 ; present number 55, village stations 2, scholars 30.
A collection was then made, and the service closed with singing and prayer by Mr. Brand, of Bungay.
In the afternoon the ministers and messengers met in the Baptist chapel for the transaction of the business of the association, and divine service was held in the tent. Mr. C. Wilson, of London, read the Scriptures and offered the prayer, and Mr. R. E. Sears, of Foot's Cray, Kent, and formerly of Laxfield, preached; his subject being“ Jacob's Ladder," as emblematic of the communication of grace between heaven and earth by the mediation of Jesus Christ. In the evening, Mr. Meeres, of London, preached a sermon full of plain, forcible, gospel truth, founded on Psalm cxii. 2. Liberal collections were made at these services on behalf of the poorer churches, after which Mr. S. K. Bland, one of the secretaries, made an appeal for contributions for new canvas curtains and general repairs to the great tent, which he said were much needed and would cost about £15. The whole of this sum was at once generously subscribed.
At six o'clock on Wednesday morning, notwithstanding the rain, a large number assembled at a prayer meeting sustained by messengers from a number of the churches. At nine o'clock the tent was quite filled for another prayer meeting, which was chrracterised by much fervour and solemnity. This was conducted by the following pastors :-Mr. Rumsey, of Cransford ; Mr. Large, of Sudbourn; Mr. Knights, of Lowestoft; Mr. Julí, of Cambridge ; Mr. W. Houghton, of 'Blakenham ; Mr. Tooke, of Mendlesham ; Mr. Palmer, of Norwich; and Mr. Broome, of Fressingfield.
At 11 o'clock a very large congregation had assembled, when Mr. Geo. Shepherd, of London, read the Scriptures and offered prayer, and Mr. Charles Hill, of Stoke Ash, preached from Mark ix. 5 : “ Master, it is good for us to be here." A sketch of the sermon will appear in the GOSPEL
HERALD, and we need only say that the closely packed audience seemed with one voice to re-echo the text.
Mr. Brand, of Bungay, concluded with prayer.
In the afternoon, Mr. Whorlow, of Stowmarket, opened the service with prayer, and Mr. W. K. Dexter, of Grundisburgh, preached with much clear. ness and earnest feeling on the apostle's words, “Ye are called in one hope of your calling." Mr. S. K. Bland then gave some report of the business trans. acted by the representatives of the churches, stating that a profitable letter prepared by Mr. Brand, of Bungay, on the doctrine of “ Election,” had been adopted, and would be printed for circu. lation. The claims of the Home and Foreign Missions had been recognised and urged for support, and about £60 had been distributed amongst the needier churches. Mr. Daniel Dickerson, the pastor of the Stowmarket Church, proposed votes of thanks to the many kind friends who had materially aided in rendering these great gatherings successful, specially thanking Messrs. Mills and Payne for the use of the meadow, Mr. Betts for the use of the malting, the the minister and managers of the Con. gregational Chapel for use of tables and seats, and the numerous friends who had opened their houses and shown much hospitality by day and night to the representatives and visitors. The liberality of visitors was also heartily acknowledged, as was also that of Mr. Newson Garrett, of Aldeburgh, who, in addition to many acts of kindness, had just repaired and painted at his own expense the exterior of the chapel at Tunstall. The parting hymn was then sung, Mr. Kern, of Ipswich, closed with prayer, and the very large gathering dispersed, to meet again, it is hoped, next year at Bradfield, near Bury St. Edmund's.
CROWBOROUGH. The friends of the Forest Fold Baptist Church were favoured with a good anniversary on Tuesday, June 1st. Dur venerable brother, Mr. P. Dickerson, preached an excellent and suggestive sermon in the morning, from Psalm lxxxix. 15, 16; in the afternoon, Mr. Newton, from Psalm cxvi. 6; and in the evening, Mr. C. Masterson, from John xiii. 36-38. But there was one circum.