« PreviousContinue »
cretary, devoted friend of the work of God on the Continent, and many other brethren whose memory is precious to me; and then, in presence of you all, friends of Evangelization on the Continent, I address you, so to speak, in the words of St. John, “face to face." (John iii. 14.)
Peace be with you, my very dear Brethren ! May life, eternal life, which sin had banished from the earth, but which has returned to it in the person of our Lord Jesus Christ, be the life of each of your souls, the life of your holy Society, the life of your people. If annual meetings are necessary, it is not so much to report what has been done ; it is not so much to stimulate one another by considerations more or less external ; but it is that a whole assembly may cry with one heart and one voice, for that life which is hid in Jesus Christ, even " as the hart panteth after the water-brooks ;” and that the day on which the brethren meet may thus become to them as it were another Pentecost, on which they shall be baptized anew, and “made to drink into one Spirit.” (1 Cor. xii. 13.) May it be so from the present hour, through the grace of Jesus Christ.
I do not intend, dear brethren, to speak to you of the benedictions God has granted us this year in the several departments of our Society, our Theological School, Bible Colportage, and work of Evangelization. Your Secretary has already done this. I wish to say a few words to you on the fraternal intercourse between England and the Continent, of which your Society is the channel. In doing so, I shall not confine myself in particular to the Geneva Evangelical Society. I might, perhaps, say, that small as is Geneva, the God of Nazareth and Bethlehem sometimes employs the weak and despised instruments, sanctifying them to his glory. I might add, that in the days of Calvin, this little town (then of twelve or thirteen thousand inhabitants) had more influence on the destinies of humanity than many a mighty empire. I might call to mind, in fine, how, placed in the centre of Europe, Geneva may, even in our days, exercise a Christian influence on the countries which surround it,-Switzerland, Germany, France, and Italy. Its population, composed partly of families which have quitted those countries from persecution or other causes, may also re-act upon them ; nor, perhaps, has it altogether
failed to do so. In 1815, when, in restoring peace to central Europe, God rekindled there the heavenly fire of faith, it was at Geneva that He first lighted the sacred flame, some time before he did so in France or in the Canton de Vaud ; and it was from Geneva that, in part at least, this flame communicated itself to many around. You are acquainted with the labours to which God has called us among the populations of France, from the midst of which our fathers were compelled to fly, in the bloody days of Louis XIV. We have also been permitted to do something for other countries ; but upon this topic I shall not enlarge. O God, Thy kingdom come!
It is the importance of your Society, with respect to England herself, which specially strikes me at this moment. I do not know if it be generally understood among your countrymen, that you are an important institution, as regards your own country. There must be a connecting link between England and the Continent, there must be cordial affection, frequent communications, and your Society is the principal instrument by which this valuable union is effected. It is thus one of those “joints," of which St. Paul speaks to the Ephesians, (iv. 16,) and which are necessary for every "well-compacted” body.
Perhaps some one will call in question the necessity, for England at least, of those Christian bonds with the Continent. If so, my lord and gentlemen, I shall appeal upon this point to a higher and more weighty authority than my own, to that of the fathers of your Reformation, and in particular to the words and example of the excellent Cranmer, the first of your evangelical metropolitans.
In pronouncing this name I pause, -I ask myself if it can still be quoted as an authority, now that one of the finest geniuses of the age, a writer for whose talents I entertain the highest admiration, has lately branded the memory of your martyr-reformer, and has declared him, “ saintly in his professions, unscrupulous in his dealings, zealous for nothing, bold in speculation, a coward and a a timeserver in action, a peaceable enemy, and a lukewarm friend.” (Macaulay's History of England. I. 52.)
Yes, my lord, notwithstanding this attack, I appeal to this venerable name, and I shrink not from offering it the tribute of my respect, in presence of your people. Undoubtedly, my