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TO BE PLACED IN FRONT OF SPA FIELDS CHAPEL,
Mr. Editor, I have great pleasure in forwarding for the information of your readers, and with the hope of enlisting their sympathy and help, the following circulars referring to the memory of the Countess of Huntingdon, of whom I profess to be an ardent admirer. I have not as yet made what may be considered a general appeal, but I have been greatly encouraged by generous sympathy and approval, frequently unasked, therefore the more highly appreciated. As there has not been sufficient time for me to receive replies from many friends who would, I know, like their names in the first general list, I propose, with your permission, to send the names of subscribers next month; in the meantime, I shall greatly value help. I think many of your readers could collect a guinea. I shall be pleased to forward a collecting-card, if they will send me their names. I should also like our young friends in the Sunday-schools to have a share in the work. In Spa Fields School it is intended to have an address appropriate to the subject on one Sunday afternoon, and a collection throughout the school. I append a few evidences of the approval which has been accorded—and among kind and liberal friends may specially be named Rev. Robert Maguire, A.M., Incumbent of Clerkenwell; Mr. Alderman Lusk, M.P.; Lieut.-Colonel Colville ; Rev. Daniel Wilson, M.A., Vicar of Islington ; &c.
F. W. W.
Dear Sir,-Local circumstances rendering it desirable that some alteration should be made externally in connexion with Spa Fields Chapel, probably by the erection of a portico, it has been deemed a fitting opportunity to associate therewith an idea which has for some time been held in abeyance-viz., an Obelisk, or Monumental Memorial to the Countess of Huntingdon, with suitable inscriptions, recording, in addition to her usefulness, her ecclesiastical position, also referring to her College, which was removed shortly after her death from Trevecca to Cheshunt.
Perhaps a more suitable spot could scarcely be found. Spa Fields was her principal chapel. Here she lived-here she performed the most noble and self-denying acts of her life—here she died—and from hence “ devout men carried her to her burial," at Ashby-de-la-Zouch. Of the thousands who pass the spot daily, few know anything—many never heard of the Countess of Huntingdon, the views she entertained, the position she assumed, or of the noble work done by her and her devoted friends. It is intended, at least in part, to rectify this want of information.
The Managers of the Chapel have kindly allowed the use of the ground, and I have undertaken, as the Treasurer of the Schools established in the neighbourhood by her Ladyship and her friend, Mr. Oldham, A.D. 1782, to contribute as my quota towards the intended alterations, by providing from friends or otherwise sufficient funds towards thus perpetuating her memory. The proposition has been most kindly received by those to whom I have mentioned it, but I confess I should like the Memento to be somewhat elegant, worthy of the noble woman and her work, and worthy of the spot with which so many important institutions have been, and it is hoped will still be, connected.
I hope to be able to associate with it, to be placed on the other side of the portico, in a situation almost equally conspicuous, a corresponding memorial to James Oldham Oldham, Esq., the friend and liberal associate of the Countess, the treasurer of her College, and a munificent benefactor to the neighbourhood by purchasing a large estate close by for the “perpetuation of the cause at Spa Fields Chapel,” and by providing handsomely for its School for “clothing and educating poor children.”
Should this matter commend itself to the admirers of the Countess of Huntingdon and to the Christian public, I shall esteem it an honour to be the means of giving practical effect to their wishes, and shall thankfully receive their contributions.
It is hoped to have at least the first obelisk in its place towards the end of June, its inauguration if possible to take place at the time of the annual assembling of ministers and others previously to the College anniversary. The Rev. Robert Maguire, M.A., incumbent of the parish, has kindly consented to preside at such inaugural meeting.
The list of contributors will be published from time to time in the Free Church of England Magazine, and a copy sent to each contributor.
Waiting your favourable and early reply, inasmuch as the character of the memorial will be somewhat determined by the approval accorded and assistance promised within the next few days, I am yours faithfully,
F. W. WILLCOCKS. 3, Lansdown Crescent, Worcester, April 10, 1867. My dear Brother,—You will perceive by the foregoing circular that our good friend Mr. Willcocks, of Spa Fields Chapel, London, has kindly undertaken the arrangements for the erection of a monumental memorial to the Countess of Huntingdon, with a view of perpetuating her memory and self-denying efforts.
Several of the students educated at the College, remembering with feelings of gratitude the many happy hours spent in that institution, cordially approve of this mark of respect, and earnestly invite the cooperation of others.
As no monument has been raised for the Countess, it would be a graceful act on the part of those educated at Cheshunt to be identified with this movement, and thus do honour to so distinguished a character. It is hoped, therefore, that all students who have enjoyed the advantages of the College will feel pleasure in either contributing or obtaining at least a guinea for this object.
As it is proposed that the monument shall be erected at once, I shall be happy to receive any expression of your sympathy at an early date, or the same can be sent to Mr. F. W. Willcocks, 13, Lloyd-square, London, W.C.
With best wishes for your personal and ministerial welfare, I remain, yours very truly,
Thos. DODD. We, ministers educated at Cheshunt College, cordially approve of the above letter, and shall be most happy to further the intended object :
Date of leaving College. John Meffen, Great Yarmouth
1795 Thomas Noyes, Hurstpierpoint
1812 L. J. Wake, Norwich
1820 E. C. Lewis, St. Stephen's Church, Rochdale
1835 George Jones, Tunbridge Wells .
1845 Alfred H. New, Barnsbury .
1852 S. Wardlaw McAll, M.A., Finchley
1860 G. B. Ryley, Braintree
8, College-terrace, Islington, April, 1867. To Former Members of the Congregation of Spa Fields Chapel. Dear Friends,-You will perceive by the accompanying circular that our good friend Mr. Willcocks has undertaken a most interesting duty in connexion with the chapel, with a view, among other reasons, to record some of the intentions of the founders and friends of the institutions connected therewith.
I believe it is his desire to undertake the whole responsibility of the proposed plan, both as to “Portico ” and “Monuments.” I know his efforts have been very kindly received, but it has been suggested that there are many of our old friends who would gladly avail themselves of the opportunity of contributing, from pleasing recollections of the past, and out of respect to the old friendships connected with their former associations at the chapel.
I gladly avail myself of the privilege of attempting to strengthen the hands of my friend Mr. Willcocks, by now asking such to help us to make the chapel look a little in keeping with the age, and also to endeavour by public inscription to preserve “old landmarks.” This is particularly desirable at the present time.
Believe me, dear friends,
Yours very truly,
(Letters from Old Ministers.) My dear Sir,-Most happy shall I be to subscribe towards the monumental memorial, and to have a sight of it at our next Conference, if I am able.
There is not an old student who has a greater reason to express his gratitude, and to keep in remembrance the Countess who did so much for her ministers, and thousands of souls now with her in glory, and thousands now on earth travelling to that happy place through her instrumentality. I am sincerely glad that it was in your heart to afford one so unworthy a privilege so great, and so many of my brethren in the ministry and their friends the same privilege.
May you succeed in accomplishing your interesting object to your utmost satisfaction.
My dear Sir,—I heartily approve of the erection of a memorial to the excellent and venerable Countess of Huntingdon, and shall feel great pleasure in having my name inserted amongst the subscribers. The memory of the good Countess is very dear to me, though I never personally knew her ; but her successor, Lady Anne Erskine, I shall never forget. Her counsels—her advice--yea, her very words, frequently pass through my mind, and the remembrance of them is precious. I knew all the old trustees, and was treated by them with the greatest kindness. I was ordained in Spa Fields Chapel near seventy years ago, and have never ceased to labour in the Connexion till age and infirmities compelled me to retire.
FREE CHURCHES—THE WANT OF THE AGE.
BY J. WATTS LETHBRIDGE.
“ CAN YE NOT DISCERY THE SIGNS OF THE TIMES ? "
About a century since, when the Church of England became inactive through religious indifference, Selina, Countess of Huntingdon, a truehearted mother in Israel, aided by her chaplain, the Rev. George Whitfield, had both insight and foresight sufficient to perceive that the want of that age was a pious, earnest, and active ministry.
Whitfield, too, as the preaching angel of the age, and aided by the wealth and influence of the gifted Countess, roused the sleeping spirit of England to an awakened sense of its religious privileges and duty.
The intellectual wants of the ages may differ, but the religious wants of every age remain the same namely, a clear exposition of the religion of Jesus. The more simple it is, the more perfect it must be. The want of the present age, religiously considered, is not religious dress in the symbolism of worship, but effective speech in Christian doctrine-not the cloud of incense, but the spirit of prayer.
There is speaking power everywhere, in the church and in the chapel ; too often it gives but an uncertain sound; the glad tidings of great joy as a complete Gospel —a finished salvation once and for everis the one thing needful in many an utterance, the lacking element in many a sermon, the keeping back part of the price, the passing by on the other side.
If there be sufficient preaching, the same cannot be said of the sufficiency of prayer ; for here is a weakness evidently felt, constantly and consciously experienced. The form is present, but the spirit is gone; the spirit of the living power is not in the wheels.
As to prayerful devotion, it is conceded on all hands that the essential thing—the spirit of prayer—is wanting. In this respect, the souls of men are weighed and found wanting, for a deep sleep has come over the devotions of the Christian Church.
A certain class of ministers of the English Church, to make the evil still worse, in order to make up for the lack of the devotional element in themselves, have complicated the beautiful Liturgy of the purest English, by the wearing of vestments which the Reformation discarded, and the introduction of church ornaments which, for three centuries, have been laid aside, seemingly forgetful that improvement consists rather in the simplex than in the complex, and that the religion of Jesus is promoted more by the exercise of the Christian virtues, than in altar ornamentation.
The Ritualism observed by the clergy of the present day is the betrayal of a sacred trust, committed to the English Church from the period of the Reformation. It is a virtual going over to Romanism, in the wearing of the Papal livery. A voice comes from the Reformation