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Title: Congregationalism in the Court Suburb
Author: Stoughton, John
Language: English
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Copyright Status: Not copyrighted in the United States. If you live elsewhere check the laws of your country before downloading this ebook. See comments about copyright issues at end of book.

*** Start of this Doctrine Publishing Corporation Digital Book "Congregationalism in the Court Suburb" ***

This book is indexed by ISYS Web Indexing system to allow the reader find any word or number within the document.

SUBURB***


Transcribed from the 1883 Hodder and Stoughton edition by David Price,
email ccx074@pglaf.org.  Many thanks to the Royal Borough of Kensington
and Chelsea Libraries for allowing their copy to be consulted for this
transcription.



                            CONGREGATIONALISM
                                  IN THE
                              COURT SUBURB.


                                * * * * *

                                    BY

                           JOHN STOUGHTON, D.D.

                _Formerly Minister of Kensington Chapel_.

                                * * * * *

                                 London:
                          HODDER AND STOUGHTON,

                           27, PATERNOSTER ROW.

                              MDCCCLXXXIII.

                                * * * * *

                             Butler & Tanner,

                       The Selwood Printing Works,

                            Frome, and London.

                                * * * * *



DEDICATION.


                              THE FOLLOWING

                            HISTORICAL SKETCH,

                        PREPARED AT THEIR REQUEST,

                         Is Gratefully Inscribed

                                  TO THE

                       PRESENT MINISTER AND DEACONS

                                    OF
                            KENSINGTON CHAPEL.



INTRODUCTION.


AT the commencement of my History, I wish to convey some idea of what
Kensington was at the close of the last century, when the original
Nonconformist Church in that place was formed and established.

Kensington as a parish must be distinguished from Kensington as a village
or suburb.  The boundaries of the parish are still unaltered, yet what it
contained ninety years ago was different, indeed, from what it contains
now.  It is startling to read in Lyson’s “Environs,” published in 1795,
the following sentence:—“The parish of Kensington contains about 1,910
acres of land, about half of which is pasture meadow, about 360 acres are
arable land for corn only, about 230 in market gardens, about 260
cultivated sometimes for corn and sometimes for garden crops, and 100
acres of nursery ground.”

I often think, as I am reading history, what a contrast exists between
its background of natural scenery, and the prospect now before our eyes
on the spot to which the history refers.  We should not know Kensington
if we could see it as it was when Hornton Street Chapel was being built.
Then all around was rural.  Notting Hill and the whole way to
Paddington—where was the parish boundary to the north—exhibited fields
bordered by hedgerows.  Holland Park, to the west, was a lordly demesne
such as you see now “down in the shires,” and the boundary of the parish
in that direction, at what used to be called Compton Bridge, was marked
by a turnpike gate not long ago removed; beyond it lay a bit of country
landscape before you reached the junction of roads at Hammersmith
Broadway.  No great change had then taken place since Addison—who lived
in Kensington—wrote to the Earl of Warwick, saying, “The business of this
is to invite you to a concert of music, which I have found out in a
neighbouring wood.  It begins precisely at six in the evening, and
consists of a blackbird, a thrush, a robin redbreast, and a bullfinch.
There is a lark that, by way of overture, sings famously till she is
almost out of hearing.”  “The whole is concluded by a nightingale.”  Such
were the warblers that broke the silence of Kensington woods when no
screech of the railway whistled in the wind, and no lumbering omnibuses
thundered along the highway.  Indeed, I well remember the nightingales in
Holland Park, after the commencement of my ministry at Hornton Street.
Earl’s Court, even then, was separated from Holland Park gates by a
country lane which began at Pembroke Square.  But fifty years before, now
ninety years ago, it was thereabouts all pleasant open country, dotted
with homesteads, paddocks, gardens; whilst at eventide broad green
meadows saw “the lowing herd wind slowly o’er the lea.”  Brompton,
included within the parish, extended to the borders of Chelsea, famous
for cosy retreats occupied by merchants and literary men.  Turning from
south to east, there opened, under the shadow of the palace, those
gardens which had become famous and much admired in Queen Anne’s time;
and after Hornton Street chapel was built, a minute of the Board of Green
Cloth recorded that an annual pension of £18 was to be paid to a widow,
named Gray, “in consideration of the loss of her husband, who was
accidentally shot while the keepers were hunting foxes in Kensington
Gardens.” {9a}

Lyson tells us that in 1795 there had been new buildings erected,
principally in and near the hamlet of Brompton.  “The present number of
houses,” he says, “is about 1,240, of which about 1,150 are inhabited,
the remainder are for the most part unfinished.” {9b}

So much for the parish.  Now look at the Court suburb; so small in
comparison with the parish, that it may be compared to a shrivelled
kernel in a nutshell.  There, in the centre, stood the old Parish Church,
pronounced by Bishop Blomfield the ugliest in the country; and in Church
Street, higher up, the Vicarage was encompassed by a goodly garden and
small park, now covered by rows of houses.  Quaint-looking tenements
bordered Church Street a little way.  Campden House and grounds retained
a palatial appearance.  A row of brick dwellings, taking us back to the
days of the first Georges, still line Holland Street, and were then in
their prime.  Hornton Street looked out, in spring, upon blooming
orchards.  The road between Kensington Palace Gate and Holland House was,
as it still is, the main thoroughfare; and I conclude that Phillimore
Place, called by the Prince Regent “Dish-clout Row,” from its tasteless
slabs in front, was then in pristine pride.  Kensington Square, though
shorn of the glories it possessed under the first two Georges—when it
boasted of forty coaches, and of lords and ladies occupying the buildings
round it—still presented much quiet respectability; and old inhabitants,
as they passed by the palace gates, could tell of having heard from their
fathers and mothers how one morning there issued thence “Horse Guards
with their trumpets, and a company of heralds with their tabards, to
proclaim, after Queen Anne’s death, George, by the grace of God, of Great
Britain, France, and Ireland, King, Defender of the Faith.”

All round, the Court suburb was separated from neighbouring hamlets by a
belt of orchards, gardens, and nursery grounds; and the road between
Kensington Gardens and Knightsbridge remained notorious for its
loneliness and perils.  Opposite Hyde Park were a few aristocratic
mansions, with spacious lawns, shrubberies, and gardens bounded by lofty
walls; but the road was often in very bad repair.  In the middle of the
century, Lord Hervey told his mother it was impassable, and that in
Kensington he lived “in the same solitude as he should do if cast on a
rock in the middle of the ocean.” {11}  Matters might have mended
somewhat at the time the chapel was built, but a good old pew-opener, Mr.
Mundy, told me how he remembered that people at Knightsbridge, bound for
Kensington after dark, would wait till they made a number large enough to
defend themselves against the footpads who infested the thoroughfare.
The old half-way house and the turnpike gate, symbolical of ancient days,
lingered so late as the middle of my own ministry.

Along that road, and through Kensington suburbs, George III. used to
drive down to Windsor in a lumbering coach with outriders and an escort.
There sat on the box, in grand livery, “a body coachman,” as he was
called.  His name was Saunders.  To speak of that good man may seem to be
travelling out of my record, but it will be seen that he played an
important part in Kensington Church history.  He was a favourite with His
Majesty, and used to put tracts in the pocket of the coach for his master
to read on the way to the Royal Borough.  The latter liked them so well,
that he encouraged the servant to keep the pocket furnished with such
publications; and we can fancy the Queen’s grandfather, in his cocked hat
and neat wig, poring over the pages provided for his entertainment and
benefit.  The coachman was a Nonconformist, and when he was staying at
Windsor gathered a few people together in a house which bore the
unattractive name of “Hole in the Wall,” where they held a religious
service, and formed the nucleus of the Independent Church of which I was
pastor for eleven years, part of it as colleague with the venerable
Alexander Redford.  It is a curious coincidence that this worthy coachman
may be accounted founder of the two Churches in which I have laboured the
whole of my pastoral life.

He lived part of his time at Kensington, and wished to see a
Nonconformist congregation there.  He met with a few people in “a very
humble dwelling,” {12} for religious worship, and out of that grew the
Dissenting Church in Hornton Street.

Kensington Parish Church, between 1762 and 1770, was favoured with the
ministry of the celebrated Dr. Jortin, an author and preacher of
extraordinary reputation; and he was succeeded by Dr. Waller, of whom I
know nothing except that he was killed by the fall of a chimney during a
great hurricane in November, 1795.  Then came the Rev. Richard Omerod.
“There was no man, perhaps, who more eminently possessed the faculty of
conciliating all ranks and orders in a large and populous parish than Mr.
Omerod.  Nor was this effected by courtly demeanour or by flattering
profession, but by that honest and amiable simplicity of life and heart,
which both dignify and recommend the Christian minister.  To a native
purity of mind and unaffected sanctity of life, he added a calm, gentle,
and unobtrusive manner, which never failed at once to disarm hostility
and to command respect.  In his discharge of the complicated duties of a
parish priest he was eminent and exemplary.  By the higher orders he was
respected and admired, and by the lower orders he was venerated and
loved; and possessing alike the confidence of both, he was the channel of
communicating the bounty of the one to relieve the necessities of the
other.” {13a}  He was vicar from 1795 to 1816.

Dr. Waller was incumbent when the body coachman held his meetings at
Kensington, and Mr. Omerod succeeded Dr. Waller soon after Hornton Street
Chapel was built.

I wish we knew more of that coachman, who deserves to be held in honour
by the congregation of the present day; since it appears that he not only
brought together a nucleus for the Church, but contributed out of his
limited means ten pounds for the erection of a chapel. {13b}

The earliest document preserved relative to the building I may here
insert, as it indicates the different elements of Nonconformity blended
in the enterprise.  Some of the originators, most it would seem, were
Presbyterians, but united with them were Independents and others.

    _To the friends of Religious Liberty_, _Sincere Christianity_, _and
    of Benevolent dispositions_, _etc._:

    We, the undersigned,—of whom some have been educated in the
    principles of the Established Church of Scotland, and others in that
    class of Dissenters in England whose principles, opinions, and faith
    is the most generally consonant to, and founded on, the Word of God
    as revealed in the Scriptures of the Old and New Testament, and on
    the essential doctrines of Christianity as professed by both the
    National Churches of England and Scotland;—being, therefore,
    Dissenters from the established mode of worship in this country, and
    being situated at a great distance from any place of worship
    agreeable to the dictates of our consciences, we, from pure motives
    of religion and piety alone, for conveniency to ourselves and
    families, and to others who may be like-minded with us in matters of
    religion, do propose, under the favour and blessing of a Divine
    Providence, to erect and build a (temple) for the worship of Almighty
    God in the parish of Kensington and county of Middlesex.

    We profess our religious opinions to be, according to the rites, form
    of worship, as well as of the doctrines and discipline agreed upon in
    the Confession of Faith, by the Assembly of Divines at Westminster
    (so far as the circumstances of our situation will admit of); we wish
    to follow their soundness of faith, purity, and simplicity of
    worship, as far as we judge them founded on the Word of God,
    agreeable to the standard of faith contained in the Holy Scriptures,
    the alone unerring guide of faith and manners.

    We therefore invite the serious Christian, the friends and lovers of
    Gospel truth, to join with us in this good undertaking to promote the
    glory of God, the interests of true religion, and the eternal
    happiness of ourselves and fellow-Christians; having nothing in view
    but to forward the attainment of these great objects, we leave the
    briers, and thorny fields of disputation, and false philosophy, of
    factions, politics, and jarring interests of ambitious men, “that we
    may lead quiet and peaceable lives in all godliness and honesty,” as
    commanded.  1 Timothy ii. 1, 2.

Connected with this document is another, shorter and more general,
stating “that a suitable piece of ground, on a long lease,” had been
secured, on which was to be erected a building, “estimated at upwards of
£900,” which had been already begun, and was then “carrying on.”  The
object of this paper was to secure contributions.  The builders’ estimate
amounted to £927 15_s._ 6_d._  The structure was at once duly registered,
“pursuant to the Act of Toleration in that case made and provided.”  A
recommendation of the case is preserved, signed by several ministers,
chiefly Presbyterians, stating that friends at Kensington, for themselves
and neighbours—as there “was no proper regular place of worship for those
who could not conform with the Established Church—had determined to unite
their efforts towards supplying this defect.”

The dimensions of the edifice were sixty feet by forty inside; but the
ground in length extended to one hundred and nine feet.



I.  THE FIRST PASTORATE.
_THE REV. JOHN LAKE_.


NO account is given of the chapel opening; but in October, 1794, an
invitation appears, in the name of “the trustees and subscribers,”
addressed to the Rev. John Lake, M.A., {17} requesting him to take “the
pastoral charge of the congregation,” to which, in the following month,
an answer was returned accepting the charge, and expressing a hope that
the people would receive the Word preached with meekness and affection,
with freedom from prejudice, and with the simplicity of little children.
“Carefully guard,” he says, “against whatever may engender strife and
division.  Endeavour to keep the unity of the spirit in the bond of
peace.  Live in peace, and may the God of love and peace be with you.”
Mr. Lake, it is believed, was a Presbyterian clergyman, and on the 1st of
March he preached two discourses suitable to the occasion, which was to
unite “several constant and serious hearers at the new chapel” in “church
communion,” that they might enjoy “religious ordinances.”  The tone of
the whole letter is devout and beautiful, and gives a favourable
impression of the writer’s character.

“On Sunday, March 8th, a special meeting was held at the chapel in the
afternoon, of as many as were desirous of joining as members and
communicants at the Lord’s Table, when Mr. Lake attended and entered into
religious conversation with those present, to whom he also delivered a
suitable exhortation.  The service was begun and concluded with prayer,
singing, etc.”

“March 30th.  The Rev. Mr. Lake, who had accepted the pastoral office
some months ago, removed with his family to Kensington.”

“On Thursday, April 9th (notice having been given from the pulpit the
preceding Lord’s Day), Mr. Lake was set apart and admitted to the
pastoral office in this Church, in the following manner: The Rev. Mr.
Moore began with prayer and reading some suitable portions of Scripture;
then singing; Dr. Hunter prayed; singing; the Rev. Mr. Smith preached a
suitable and excellent sermon from Ezekiel iii. 17–21; then singing,
after which Mr. Rutledge concluded with prayer and benediction.  Several
other ministers, besides those who engaged, were present.  The reverend
ministers and some of the principal heads of families afterwards dined
together.  The service at chapel was conducted to the general
satisfaction of all present.”

“On Friday, April 10th, in the evening, a sermon, preparatory to the
administration of the Lord’s Supper, was preached by the Rev. Mr. Love,
from Exodus iii. 5.  A meeting was afterwards held to consult about the
choice of elders, when, after some deliberation, it was thought proper to
postpone the choice to a future opportunity.”

“On Sunday, April 12th, the members enjoyed the long wished for
opportunity of joining as a Christian Church at the table of the Lord.
The Lord’s Supper was dispensed in the chapel for the first time by the
Rev. Mr. Lake, in the following manner: After preaching a suitable
discourse from 1 Corinthians xi. 26, and giving out a Psalm, he came from
the pulpit to the communion table, where a linen cloth and the elements
had been previously laid, the great pew, as well as three or four of the
adjoining pews, were filled with communicants.  After rehearsing the
words of institution, with some useful remarks, Mr. Lake prayed what has
been called the consecration prayer; then, with further address to the
communicants, he distributed the elements of bread and wine.  After
which, during the singing of a hymn, he returned to the pulpit, gave an
exhortation to those who had received, and concluded the whole with
prayer, benediction, and a collection, as is usual on such occasions.”

The record of that first communion is very interesting.  I have seen the
solemnization of the Holy Supper after different methods: at Rome, before
the high altar of St. Peter’s, amidst lights, flowers, and incense, with
attendant cardinals, and all the pomp and splendour of a Roman court, and
have there witnessed theatrical effects; in England, within the choir of
a Protestant cathedral, I have beheld a bishop and his clergy
administering the eucharist to kneeling worshippers, and have recognised
in the scene much picturesque beauty.  But I must say, that while reading
the entry in the Kensington Church book, illuminated by my own memories
of its communion Sundays during more than thirty years, I have before me
a mode of administration, not only different from those just indicated,
but in simplicity approaching, in my estimation, as near as possible to
the Passover feast in the upper room at Jerusalem.  It adds greatly to
the interest of this unpretending record, to recall to mind contemporary
events.  The Church was formed, the minister was ordained, and the Lord’s
Supper was administered just at the period of “the Reign of Terror” in
Paris and throughout France; and, I may add, a different reign of terror
in London and Great Britain.  The revolution storm had been breaking in
wild fury over our continental neighbours.  Blood had been poured out
like water by a ferocious tribunal of madmen calling themselves patriots.
In two months, out of seven thousand political prisoners, five hundred
and twenty-seven had perished under the guillotine.  Neither sex nor age,
neither rank nor obscurity, neither wealth nor indigence had shielded the
most innocent from vengeance.  Exiles had swarmed over to England, and
were hiding their poverty and shame in the country village, the English
capital, and the Court suburb.  Tales of change after change had reached
our shores, and filled thousands of hearts with terror.  English rulers
of that day, terrified by what they heard, may be really said to have
lost their heads, for they adopted such tyrannical measures for
repressing sedition and treason, that Charles James Fox said in reference
to the trials of Muir and Palmer in Scotland, that if the law enforced
there should be brought into England, it would be high time for “him and
his friends to settle their affairs and retire to some happier clime.”
It was just afterwards, and whilst order on the one side and freedom on
the other were in jeopardy, that the humble fathers and founders of the
Church at Kensington met to choose a pastor and to celebrate the Lord’s
Supper in their new fellowship.  “God,” says the forty-sixth Psalm, “is
our refuge and strength, a very present help in trouble.  Therefore will
not we fear, though the earth be removed, and though the mountains be
carried into the midst of the sea; though the waters thereof roar and be
troubled, though the mountains shake with the swelling thereof.  _There
is a river_, _the streams whereof shall make glad the city of God_.”  As
political storms roared around, the Kensington company enjoyed that
Divine consolation.

The names of the first communicants are preserved, and in the course of
the year 1795 eight others were added.  In 1796 nine more, in 1797 five,
and in 1798 three.  One of the earliest members was a Mrs. Schmae whose
husband was living when I went to reside in Kensington.  He was a pious
old man, full of faith, hope, and love; and when I visited him on his
death bed, he told me he had been many years member of Dr. Steinkopf’s
Lutheran Church in the Savoy, and showed me a German Bible he valued,
which was given to me by the family after his death.

The principal persons in the management of affairs at the earliest period
were Messrs. Forsyth, Broadwood, and Grey, all Scotch Presbyterians.  Mr.
Broadwood was the famous pianoforte maker.  Mr. Grey was a proprietor of
the “Brompton Park Nursery,” spoken of as famous for plants of all sorts,
“which supply most of the nobility and gentry and gentlemen in England.”
John Evelyn visited the nursery in 1694, with Mr. Waller, who “was in
admiration at the store of plants, and how well the nursery was
cultivated.”

Amongst early secular incidents connected with the chapel, was an attempt
made on the part of the parish to include the building in the poor-rate
assessment.  This was in 1795.  But the trustees resisted the imposition;
and on the case being considered by the magistrates at Hicks Hall, they
decided that the place being supported by voluntary contributions, could
not be justly liable to the parish rate.  Similar attempts were made
afterwards, with a similar result.

In 1798 the general monthly prayer meeting of the London Missionary
Society was held at Hornton Street, and the Rev. Dr. Haweis, it is stated
in the Church book, preached from the text, “Awake, awake, put on
strength, O arm of the Lord.” {23a}  The entry deserves special remark.
Dr. Haweis was rector of Aldwinkle, in Northamptonshire, and an intimate
friend of the Countess of Huntingdon.  At that period a few Evangelical
clergymen were accustomed to preach in Nonconformist pulpits.  The famous
John Berridge, rector of Everton, was of the number; and Fletcher of
Madeley frequently ministered the word of life to Methodist
congregations.  Dr. Haweis delivered the first annual sermon on behalf of
the London Missionary Society in Spafields chapel; and on previous
occasions preached in places of worship belonging to the Countess’s
connection.  Whether it was owing to that circumstance, I do not know,
but as early as 1767 an unpleasantness arose, which raised a question as
to whether he ought to retain his rectory; and the Rev. Martin Madan, of
the Lock Hospital—who, by the way, is buried at Kensington—advised him to
retain it, a piece of advice which, we are told, subjected Mr. Madan “to
much obloquy.” {23b}  Preaching by clergymen in dissenting chapels was
deemed an irregularity, but some bishops winked at it.  Whether or not
the practice be legal became a topic of inquiry a few years ago, and
counsel’s opinion was taken on the subject.  My friend Dr. Stanley at
that period expressed a wish to occupy Kensington pulpit before I
resigned the pastorate, and an arrangement for the purpose was deferred
in consequence of a controversy on the general subject, which arose at
the time.  Counsel’s opinion proved unfavourable, and the matter dropped.
But I may mention that the Rev. Samuel Minton, whilst still a Church of
England incumbent, preached for me one Sunday evening not long before
counsel gave the opinion to which reference has been made.

It is interesting to remember that Dr. Haweis was a warm friend to the
London Missionary Society, and that after having offered four hundred
pounds for sending the Gospel to Tahiti, he said: “For many years I have
planned, prayed, and sought for an opening for a mission among the
heathen.  My dear Lady Huntingdon has concurred with me in attempting
it.” {24a}  And again: “My former experience has convinced me that only
by a general union of all denominations could a broad basis be laid for a
mission.” {24b}

That at so early a period of this history such a service should be held
was an augury for good.  It showed that the insignificant band of
Christians worshipping in Hornton Street cherished sympathies so large
that they swept over the world, and offered prayers that the proclamation
of the Gospel might reach the ends of the earth.  From the beginning the
Kensington Church associated itself with the history of missionary trials
and missionary success.  Disaster at the antipodes sent a thrill of pain,
and success there created a pulsation of joy amongst the obscure
worshippers.  Hearts mourned over the capture of the _Duff_, and in after
years over the massacre of Tongataboo, the imprisonment and death of
Smith in Demerara, the murder of John Williams on the beach of Eromanga,
and the persecutions of early converts by the Queen of Madagascar.  From
time to time the countenances of worshippers have brightened on the
arrival of good tidings from the South Seas, from India, from China, from
Caffreland, from the West Indies.  And I mention this because I believe
that much of the prosperity enjoyed by Kensington Congregationalists is
owing to their early and ever since continued co-operation in missionary
work.  The keynote of their zeal and joy was struck at that meeting which
it is so gratifying to remember.

Mr. Lake’s ministry at Kensington ceased in 1800 or 1801; and the only
notice I have found of his subsequent history, is that he at length
quitted “the Dissenting interest for a curacy in the Established Church,
where he sustained a respectable and useful character to the day of his
death.” {25}



II.  THE SECOND PASTORATE.
_THE REV. JOHN CLAYTON_.
1801–1804.


“THE congregation of Hornton Street Chapel, Kensington, being deprived of
the ministerial labours of the Rev. John Lake, by his resignation, and
remaining destitute of a stated overseer in the Lord till the month of
May, 1801, united in a call soliciting Mr. John Clayton, assistant to the
Rev. John Winter, of Newbury, Berks, to undertake the office of their
pastor.” {28}  The invitation was in the name of “the trustees, church,
and subscribers,” and received about one hundred signatures.  Mr.
Clayton’s reply is not given, but the records state that he paid a visit
and preached two Sabbaths in the month of June; and on the second Sabbath
of August, 1801, he entered upon his stated labours.

Mr. Clayton was educated partly at Homerton College, partly at Edinburgh
University; and after the completion of his preparatory studies he spent
a short time at Newbury, as assistant to the Rev. John Winter.  He had
only just come of age when he was invited to the Kensington pastorate.
Having won for himself a good report from the people of the Berkshire
town, as one who had done his work “with the ability of a theologist and
the faithfulness of a minister of Christ,” he was praised by the senior
pastor, who wrote to the young man’s father, saying, “I see that he has
now a call to depart with a prospect of usefulness by preaching the
Gospel in another place.  I therefore readily commend him to the Lord,
and the word of His grace, and shall rejoice to hear that all our hopes
are realized among the people of Kensington.”

Mr. Clayton was ordained in Hornton Street Chapel the twenty-first of
October, 1801.  The Rev. W. Humphreys, of Hammersmith, delivered the
introductory discourse, and the charge to the minister was given by his
father, the Rev. John Clayton, pastor of the Church assembling in the
ancient Weigh House, not far from the London Monument.  This gentleman,
dignified and courtly, had come under the influence of Lady Huntingdon,
and to the time of his death remained attached to the doctrines dear to
the countess.  His dissent was of a moderate type, and he did not share
in political views prevalent amongst his brethren; in that respect his
son resembled him.  He cultivated friendships with evangelical clergymen,
especially Newton and Cecil.  When I was about to enter college I
received from him counsel and encouragement; and I remember well a
discourse which he preached at Norwich fifty years ago, from the words,
“Let us go again and visit our brethren in every city where we have
preached the word of the Lord, and see how they do.”  He had visited the
place forty years before, and now came, he said, to see “_how they did_,”
and to make inquiries relative to their temporal as well as their
spiritual welfare.  “Have you made your wills?” asked the venerable
patriarch, with his thickly powdered head.

“The charge he delivered at Kensington to his son was a most faithful and
solemn exposition of ministerial duties, enforced with amazing vigour and
pungency of expression; indeed at times there was a trenchant
fearlessness of utterance almost amounting to invective against
timeserving, hesitating, cowardly preachers who kept back the truth or
proclaimed smooth things to gratify graceless spirits.” {29}

    “I have not language [he said] of indignant severity sufficiently
    strong to express the contemptible cowardice, hypocrisy, and
    soul-murdering cruelty of those who adopt an indefinite phraseology
    in order (such is the plenitude of their prudence and moderation)
    that none may suspend their devotion, but that a heterogeneous mass
    of nominal Calvinists and real Arians and Socinians may be assembled
    (for united they cannot be) in one society.  Frost unites sticks and
    stones, moss, leaves, and weeds; the sun separates them.  Into the
    secret of that frosty liberality may you, my son, never enter, and to
    the assembly of its advocates never be thou united.

    “Your testimony is to contain nothing but the truth.  Sermons should
    not consist in declamation, but be calculated to convey solid
    instruction.  You must teach, and not trifle away time in exhibiting
    fine thoughts or playing upon words.  Let not your testimony be
    encumbered with what is foreign.  Be like Paul, who could say,
    ‘Therefore seeing we have this ministry, as we have obtained mercy,
    we faint not; but have renounced the hidden things of dishonesty, not
    walking in craftiness, nor handling the word of God deceitfully; by
    manifestation of the truth commending ourselves to every man’s
    conscience in the sight of God.’

    “Your testimony should be borne with zeal, in the heat of which do
    not lay aside Christian meekness towards opposers.  At the same time,
    take care that you do not grow lukewarm and indifferent under the
    specious pretext of meekness.  An unfaithful, accommodating pastor,
    perhaps, applauds himself for carrying it fair with all sorts of
    people, whereas this peaceable kind of preaching, in neither
    condemning heretics and worldly-minded persons, nor being condemned
    by them, is no other than a sign of his being himself in a state of
    condemnation and death.  That person betrays the truth who ceases
    zealously to defend it, or to oppose its professed adversaries,
    either from fear of giving occasion of offence, or through a false
    love of peace.  The shepherd should not only feed the flocks, but
    also _drive away_ the grievous wolves.”

When Mr. Clayton had spent a year and a half in the seclusion of what was
then a rural hamlet, he met with an accident whilst riding on horseback,
an exercise to which he was addicted throughout life.  The accident
suspended his work for a while, and during that period his brother George
helped to supply his lack of service.  There was considerable resemblance
between the two brothers.  Each had a commanding appearance and a
sonorous voice.  Both were accustomed to express themselves in measured,
ornate sentences, the style of which was caught in a measure from their
good father, who loved his sons, and discriminated between them by saying
“John had the best stock of goods, but George had the best shop window.”
The attainments and mental abilities of the elder certainly were superior
to those of the younger; yet perhaps the younger presented what he had to
say in a manner more ingenious and with even more attractive diction than
his brother John.  They became, as they grew older, types of a class at
the time large and influential, chiefly known by their intense and
popular evangelical ministrations, their exemplary discharge of pastoral
duties, their zealous support of catholic institutions for the spread of
the Gospel, their gentlemanly demeanour in society, and their large
intercourse with ministers and people of all denominations.

Let me avail myself of the following reminiscences of Mr. Clayton’s
preaching by my beloved friend, the Rev. J. C. Harrison, who attended at
the Poultry when Mr. Clayton was minister there.  They will, with some
slight modification, apply to his preaching at Kensington.

    “He was an admirable preacher.  In the course of the year you were
    sure to hear all the main doctrines of the Christian faith clearly
    explained, or if not formally expounded, thrown into a fuller light
    by some practical appeal of which he made them the foundation.  When
    he took up a book of the New Testament, like the Acts of the
    Apostles, and founded on it a series of discussions, he would draw
    out the spirit of the narrative with great fidelity and effect, and
    would rise not unfrequently into real eloquence.  He was amongst his
    flock hearing the tale of their sorrows or their joys, their mental
    conflicts or their bodily sufferings, and becoming thereby acquainted
    with all varieties of life and experience, all kinds of spiritual
    disease, all phases of Christian character: seeking meanwhile how to
    meet difficulties and soothe sorrow, and correct morbid feelings, and
    turn tears of sadness into smiles of joy, and thus he got together
    the materials for portraitures of spiritual character drawn to the
    life, and these he wrought into the texture of his Sunday sermon.  It
    is difficult to imagine the help which such discourses afforded to
    all classes of true Christian hearers.  He mixed with all sorts and
    conditions of men, lawyers, doctors, merchants, tradesmen, mechanics;
    and as he was a felicitous and ready converser, he not only threw out
    shrewd hints and sparkling sayings for their advantage, but gained
    from them a vast amount of information respecting their mode of life,
    their opinions and practices, their weak points and strong points,
    their gains and losses, their desperate anxieties and temptations, or
    their exhilarating successes; and with these facts from life, in his
    memory, he spoke in his sermons, ‘not as one that beateth the air,’
    but as one who had been behind the scenes, and knew whereof he
    affirmed.  His strokes were not delivered at random, but went
    straight to the mark.  He could reprove, exhort, advise, comfort, as
    if he were himself involved every day in the whirl and wear of life.
    True his usual style of speech was rather Johnsonian, intermingled
    with forms of expression so entirely his own that you could only call
    them Claytonian; but those who knew him well, found that he talked
    very much as he preached, in rhetorically shaped sentences, with a
    singularly felicitous peculiarity of phrase coined in his own mind,
    and occasionally with a good-humoured subsidence into some pointed
    colloquialism which told all the more forcibly from its contrast with
    his ordinary mode.  They felt, therefore, that what he said was
    thoroughly genuine, the utterance of a true man and not at all of a
    quack, or as he would have said, of an empiric.  But whether
    experimental or practical, his sermons were richly and heartily
    evangelical, full of the very spirit of the Gospel.  As some of his
    old-fashioned hearers used to say, ‘You could always reckon on
    sixteen ounces to the pound.’”

Mr. Clayton was an exemplary pastor.  After he removed to Camomile Street
and the Poultry, he visited his people in a most methodical way, dividing
London into districts, and going from house to house, week after week, to
comfort sorrowing hearts, to share in domestic joys, to guide the
perplexed, and to stimulate the lukewarm; this I know, and therefore it
may be inferred that he looked well after the few sheep in the Kensington
fields, feeding them by day, and watching over them by night.  He used to
talk of the large “ring fence” round his church in the city; the ring
fence round his church in the suburb was small, and hence we may be sure
that his pastoral duties were, during his pastorate at Hornton Street,
thoroughly performed.  A gentleman by birth and education, with large
sympathies easily evoked, tears and smiles coming at a moment’s bidding,
apt at telling anecdotes, full of humour if not wit, he was a companion
loved in a circle wider than his own congregation; his genial
friendliness and neighbourly visits helped no doubt to promote the cause
of Evangelical Nonconformity.

A number of minutes occur in the record of affairs, relative to matters
of a temporal kind, during Mr. Clayton’s ministry; but there are no
entries relative to the admission of members or other strictly religious
proceedings.  One subject in particular excited the pastor’s solicitude,
namely, that the chapel property should be put in trust, which
accordingly was done; and in connection with this many discussions arose
touching what was needful for discharging pecuniary liabilities.  It is
plain from what follows that Mr. Clayton was not satisfied with “the
mixture of temporals with spirituals,” as he called it; and on Christmas
Day, 1804, he publicly assigned reasons for relinquishing the pastoral
office.  Various rumours were afloat, which he briefly contradicted as
“untrue,” and then told his friends that if they were asked “Why has Mr.
Clayton left Kensington?” they were to reply, “That it was his earnest
wish to be nearer the immediate circle of his ministerial connections and
religious friends; that his desire was to be united to a Church whose
members more fully coincided with him in sentiment on several subjects,
more especially on the sacrament of the Lord’s Supper; and particularly
that he might find a place where he might not be habitually perplexed
with secular arrangements, and where he might in some degree enjoy that
tranquillity which he deemed so necessary in the present state of his
health.”  “I have the pleasure,” he added, “to inform you all, that last
year this chapel was vested in the hands of nine trustees, who are
engaged to see that no minister shall ever be settled here who does not
preach the gospel agreeably to the tenets of the Assembly’s Catechism.”

Mr. Biggs, the collector and secretary, also resigned his office, and Mr.
Walker was appointed in his room.

On the 31st of October, 1805, it was resolved, “at a meeting held in the
vestry,” that Mr. Hamilton, of Brighton, should be invited to become
pastor, and an invitation accordingly was drawn up, and signed by two
deacons and between eighty and ninety other persons.

To the invitation Mr. Hamilton sent a negative reply, addressed to “the
Church of Christ assembling for religious worship in Hornton Street,
Kensington, and the subscribers to that interest.”

Meetings afterwards occurred at intervals for the settlement of pecuniary
affairs, until the month of January, 1807, when by the direction of “the
managers, with the members and subscribers approving,” the secretary, Mr.
Walker, wrote to Mr. Leifchild, a student at Hoxton Academy, who had
occupied Kensington pulpit with great acceptance, to become minister of
the chapel.  Mr. Leifchild replied that he could not leave the Academy
before the next Christmas, nor accept any call before the next midsummer.
In August of the same year a meeting was held at Mr. Broadwood’s house,
and it was resolved to secure Mr. Leifchild not less than £160 per annum,
with an addition of whatever the chapel might bring in above that sum.
On the 3rd of January, 1808, the members of the chapel resolved to invite
Mr. Leifchild to the pastorate, and in March he accepted the invitation.



III.  THE THIRD PASTORATE.
_THE REV. DR. LEIFCHILD_.
1808–1824.


“BEFORE accepting the call to Kensington,” he said, as we learn from the
Memoir by his son, “while returning from a visit to that place, I heard
at the house of a friend that Rowland Hill had announced me to preach at
Surrey Chapel on the following Tuesday evening.”  He went and preached,
and was surprised at the risibility of the audience, which was explained
when he heard that Mr. Hill had crept up into the gallery behind the
pulpit, and in his own comical way expressed assent to one part and
dissent from another part of the discourse.  The veteran came into the
vestry and asked the young man to become his curate at Wotton-under-Edge.
The latter declined the overture, when the former replied, “That reminds
me of young men setting up in business before they have served their
apprenticeship.” {37}  Just before that evening service, the minister of
Surrey Chapel had written to Mr. Wilson, Treasurer of Hoxton Academy,
saying, “I hear much of a young man of the name of Leifchild.  It was
supposed that he was going to _settle_ (a bad word for a young recruiting
spiritual officer) at Kensington; but that there is a set of formal
stupid Presbyterians there, who by no means suit his taste, and that he
is consequently still waiting for the further directing hand of
Providence, to know where he is to go.” {38a}  Mr. Hill was mistaken.
John Leifchild did _settle_ at Kensington, and was ordained there in
June, 1808, when Dr. Simpson, his tutor, delivered the charge.  Dr.
Simpson, it may be remarked, was a man of singular spiritual power.  Many
can argue, illustrate, persuade, and impress, but he could _inspire_; and
the accounts given of him in this respect by his students were
enthusiastic.  “I received a charge from his lips at my ordination over
the Church at Kensington,” says his admiring pupil, “which I can never
forget.  Much of the attention I afterwards met with in that official
connection I ascribe to the affectionate manner in which he addressed
me.” {38b}

The new pastor does not give a flattering account of the congregation
which formed his maiden charge.  “There was a great prejudice,” he says,
“in the town against Dissenters.  Many of my hearers resided at a
distance or held situations in London, and some of the managers of the
chapel, who were Scotchmen, were not very spiritual.  Of the deacons,
some resided in London, and one was very old.  He also was a Scotchman,
but a very good man.  He had been a gardener on a nobleman’s estate, and
now lived on a small income, respected for his piety and integrity.  He
was my best help, but died after a long and lingering illness.”  “During
that period I never found him otherwise than pious, resigned, and
cheerful.  He always had a guinea to spare for any religious object of
importance, although his income did not exceed £50 per annum.  One of the
managers was worth at least £20,000, and was as niggardly as Duncan was
generous.  ‘Here, Duncan,’ exclaimed this wealthy man, on the occasion of
an important collection at the chapel, ‘Here, Duncan, will you put this
in the plate for me?’ handing two half-crowns.  ‘I will, sir,’ replied
Duncan, ‘_with my own guinea_.’  This was said with a good intent, but it
hardly agreed with the Master’s precept, ‘Let not thy left hand know what
thy right hand doeth.’”

Within little more than a year after the new pastor’s settlement, George
the Third’s jubilee was held,—an event which of course produced
excitement in Kensington, for whilst the royal old gentleman was popular
all over the country, beyond what the present generation is apt to
believe, he stood particularly high in the affections of the
Kensingtonians, who were familiar with his face and figure, as he dashed
along in his coach and four, attended by his body guard, through the
Court suburb.  The cry of his approach, and the distant sight of the
soldiers and outriders brought people to the front, lifting their hats as
he passed by.  With Dissenters he was especially popular, and the Hornton
Street congregation loved him all the more because he liked Saunders, the
coachman, and read his tracts.  So in the loyal demonstrations of
October, 1809, they came prominently forward, and established on the 25th
of the month a school for “children of both sexes and of all religious
denominations.”

Soon after the jubilee had been celebrated, the Nonconformist part of
English Christendom was thrown into excitement by Lord Sidmouth’s Bill
for abridging the liberty of preaching, under pretence of rectifying an
abuse.  He complained that licences to preach were sought in order to
evade parish duties and militia service, and urged that there should be
put upon grants of licence certain restrictions which Dissenters did not
approve.  The deputies of the three denominations rose in determined
opposition to this intermeddling with religious liberty, and petitions
against it poured into the Houses of Parliament.  The Kensington people
joined other Nonconformists in resisting the mischievous scheme, and
promised the London committee “the utmost assistance and cordial
co-operation”; they also subscribed towards defraying expenses incurred
by this “well meant and well timed” assertion of religious freedom. {40}

Amongst the families connected with the Church during Dr. Leifchild’s
pastorate, two in particular may be mentioned, noteworthy on their own
account, and whom I can describe from personal knowledge.

The Talfourds attended for some years.  The mother was one of those
saintly women who when once seen can never be forgotten.  She belonged to
the class of matrons immortalized by Solomon.  “The heart of her husband
doth safely trust in her.”  “She openeth her mouth with wisdom; and in
her tongue is the law of kindness.  She looketh well to the ways of her
household, and eateth not the bread of idleness.  Her children arise up,
and call her blessed; her husband also, and he praiseth her.”  All this
is eminently true of Mrs. Talfourd; and there she used to sit and listen
to her pastor in one of the square green pews at Hornton Street, with her
“children about her”; one of whom, when a matron and mother, was, during
my own ministry, a comfort and a joy.  The most distinguished of her
sons—others became distinguished in other ways—was Mr. Justice Talfourd,
who for some time not only adorned the judicial bench, but before doing
so made a mark on literature and politics, by authorship and eloquence.
The good old lady told me of his boyish days, of his school-life at Mill
Hill; read to me one of his letters, in which he spoke of his
school-fellows, especially “one Hamilton,” who joined a party that met
for worship privately, and was “very flowery in his prayers.”  This
Hamilton was no other than the subsequently famous Nonconformist minister
of Leeds.  The young barrister wrote an article on pulpit oratory, in
which he fully described the preacher to whom he listened on Sundays:—

    “Mr. Leifchild is one of those who feels ‘the future in the instant.’
    He has almost as intense a consciousness of the world to come as he
    has of the visible objects around him.  He speaks not only as
    believing, but as _seeing_ that which is invisible.

    “His manner of level speaking is slovenly, sometimes bordering on the
    familiar; but when he is aroused he pours forth a torrent of voice
    and energy, and sustains it without intermission to the end.  His
    whole soul seems thrown into every word.  He does not stop to explain
    his expressions, or give all his qualifications to his doctrines
    which he might think requisite in a confession of faith, but gives
    full vent to the predominant feeling, and allows no other to check
    its course, which in every kind of oratory is wise.  He thus
    occasionally, it is true, rushes headlong against some tremendous
    stumbling-block, or approaches that fine division where the pious
    borders on the profane.  But, on the whole, the greatest effect is
    produced by this abandonment to the honest impulse of the season.”

“I remember,” says Mr. Leifchild, “that my father told me, upon his
return from the Serjeant’s house in Russell Square, where he had been
dining, that this then well-known orator of the law courts had relaxed
and refreshed himself by referring to the old Kensington days, and the
old chapel, and singularly enough, the old hymns of Dr. Watts, which he
had once rather disdained.  ‘Do you remember,’ said he to my father, ‘how
we used to sing that hymn—one of Watts’s best—

    “When I survey the wondrous cross
       On which the Prince of Glory died,
    My richest gain I count my loss,
       And pour contempt on all my pride”?

And do you remember how heartily we used to join in the last verse:

    “Were the whole realm of nature mine,
       That were a present far too small;
    Love so amazing, so Divine,
       Demands my soul, my life, my all.”’?”

Another family, less known to fame, was Mrs. Bergne, of Brompton Row, and
her two sons.  The eldest of them was John Bergne, for fifty years clerk
in the Foreign Office, and during the latter part of the time
superintendent of the French department,—an office which brought him into
association with many foreign and home celebrities.  A man of high
culture, great conversational power and exuberant wit, he was
nevertheless decidedly religious, and remained steadfast in his
nonconformity to the end of life.  He was a most attentive hearer, and
wrote down many of his pastor’s sermons, chiefly from memory.  He
carefully preserved two quarto volumes filled with a course of lectures
on “The Acts,” which I read when I was young, and they gave me a good
idea of the preaching then heard at Hornton Street.  A younger son,
Samuel, entered the ministry during Dr. Vaughan’s pastorate, and with
him, as well as his brother John, I enjoyed a lifelong friendship most
intimate, most endeared.  He became well known as pastor of the Poultry
Chapel, and as Secretary of the British and Foreign Bible Society.  The
family lived at Brompton, but year after year made their way morning and
evening to Kensington Chapel; and with them I may couple the family of
the Gainsfords, who resided in Piccadilly.  Such circumstances show the
distances which in those days people walked to the house of God.  It is
remarkable how many branches of old Nonconformist families included in
our history have since risen to eminence.  Here I may mention Dr. Bruce,
the learned archæologist in Newcastle, who married Miss Gainsford; also
their son, the present Recorder of Bradford.

Another family may also be mentioned, though not I believe members of the
Church, as were most of those whom I have just recorded:—

    “Amongst the attendants on his ministry (says Mr. John Leifchild,
    speaking of his father) were Lord and Lady Molesworth.  They had
    derived benefit from his pulpit instruction, and became his attached
    friends.  He often referred in particular to the mother, Lady
    Molesworth, a truly pious elderly lady, who had apartments in
    Kensington Palace.  She had two strong reasons for her attachment to
    my father’s ministry: one being the benefit which she herself had
    obtained from it; and the other being the influence which it had
    exercised on a favourite son—Lord Molesworth.  Lord Molesworth, her
    younger son, had heard Mr. Leifchild at Hornton Street Chapel, and
    though very wild and thoughtless at that time, was so affected by
    what he heard as to alter his mode of life.  Another, and the elder
    son, was then in India, where, being laid on a sick bed, he
    remembered the psalms which his father, Viscount Molesworth, had read
    and expounded when he was a child at home, showing their reference to
    the Messiah, and thus confirming the truth of Scripture.  I believe
    he came home, and it was then that he also attended the ministry at
    Hornton Street Chapel.  He now became devoted and useful; and having
    obtained an appointment in Ceylon, he repaired thither, and there
    continued his usefulness by distributing religious publications.  His
    father dying, he succeeded to the title, and having acquired property
    in Ceylon, he determined to return home, assist at the chapel, and
    spend the remainder of his days with his aged mother.  He notified to
    his mother the time of his embarkation, and she, calculating the
    length of the voyage, expected at a certain day to enfold her son in
    her embrace.  She was disappointed, and the reason soon appeared in
    the reception of the melancholy intelligence that the vessel in which
    he had trusted himself, his wife, and all his acquisitions, had gone
    down at sea, and every life had been lost.  ‘I feared,’ says my
    father, ‘on hearing the sad news, to call upon her; but on doing so I
    found her calm.  And with erect and majestic figure, looking at me,
    she said: “Dear pastor, God sustains me.  I utter not a murmuring
    word.  The Lord gave, and the Lord hath taken away: blessed be the
    name of the Lord.”’”

When I first went to Kensington, I was requested to visit an old member
of the Church, a shoemaker by trade, who I learnt had been converted
under the ministry of Dr. Leifchild.  I went and found him bedridden.  He
was a remarkable man, with a handsome face, but a cripple.  In very
humble circumstances, and uneducated, except in things pertaining to the
kingdom of God, he had a good deal of that natural politeness which
appeared all the more striking from its humble surroundings.  He won my
affections; and I delighted to sit by the good man’s bed when he would
describe, in emphatic language and with strong emotion, his strange
life-story.  Good-tempered from a boy, ready for fun and frolic, and of a
daring spirit, he plunged one day, if I remember right, into the thick of
the traffic in the high road, and was so crushed under a cart wheel, that
it was a wonder he survived the accident.  He had mixed with dissolute
company, and been accustomed, as he loitered about the end of an alley
opposite the church, to insult those who passed by on the way to worship.
His habits did not improve when he became a married man, and his
notoriety for evil was a village scandal.  But two of his children went
to the Sunday school, and they persuaded their father to come to chapel.
Dr. Leifchild preached from the words of St. Jude: “Preserved in Jesus
Christ, and called,” and spoke of the remarkable preservation of sinful
people before they were called and converted.  He happened to relate an
anecdote of Mr. Cecil, who, previously to his becoming decidedly
religious, narrowly escaped with his life, when thrown by his horse
across the track of a wagon, which in passing only crushed his hat.  The
incident struck the listener.  It resembled his own experience, and
rivetted his attention.  When the preacher followed up the illustration
with a characteristic appeal, addressed to such as were still unconverted
after signal providential deliverances, the cripple trembled from head to
foot.  Greatly impressed, he went to chapel again and again, till he
found himself another man, “a new creature in Christ Jesus.”  He would
weep as he told the story, and go on to speak of his subsequent spiritual
joy.  “I am a wonder unto many,” he would say, and then sing:—

    “Amazing grace! how sweet the sound,
       That saved a wretch like me;
    I once was lost, but now am found;
       Was blind, but now I see.”

Before I knew him a chair was made, in which he was wheeled from place to
place, and was conveyed to the chapel where God’s grace touched his
heart.  He loved the memory of the minister who had led him to Christ;
and that minister relates: “Whenever he heard that I was about to
re-visit the town, which I had subsequently left for another sphere of
labour, he caused his little carriage to be wheeled out to meet me.  I
saw his eyes glistening with emotion, and the tears rolling down his
cheeks, as I approached him, and then he invariably exclaimed aloud, ‘I
am a wonder to many, sir; but God is my strong refuge.’” {47}

This remarkable conversion came to be common talk, and reached the ears
of the Vicar, the Rev. Thomas Kennell.

    “Shortly afterwards (says Dr. Leifchild) the Vicar called upon me and
    entered into familiar conversation with me on the great truths of the
    Gospel, evidently as the result of the impression which the
    shoemaker’s wonderful conversion had produced.  Thenceforth his
    kindly feeling toward me never decreased, and this was the more to be
    remarked on account of his standing in the Episcopal Church, as
    respected his learning, oratorical power, and zeal for God according
    to his knowledge.  He was comparatively young, but with a magnanimous
    mind he had early determined to appreciate truth and goodness
    wherever they were to be found, and to follow them whithersoever they
    might lead.  Soon afterwards he fell into a decline, and one evening
    while we were holding a prayer-meeting, news was brought us of his
    dangerous illness.  I immediately requested those who led our
    devotions to bear him on their minds before God, and afterwards
    desired that no mention might be made of this circumstance, as I did
    not wish to draw attention to ourselves.  But a report of it reached
    his sick chamber, and shortly after, upon the occasion of his removal
    for the benefit of change of air, I received from him the following
    note:

                                                          ‘_April_ 29_th_.

    ‘I cannot leave Kensington without expressing to you my grateful
    feelings for the truly kind and Christian manner in which, during a
    very critical period of my illness, you were pleased to direct the
    prayers of your congregation to the throne of grace for my recovery.
    It has made a deep impression upon my mind.

    ‘Those prayers were mercifully heard, and, by the blessing of God, I
    trust that I am in a state of progressive amendment.  Slow indeed
    have been my advances, insomuch that even now I am totally incapable
    of the ordinary exertions of life; but I trust that a good
    Providence, whose mercies have indeed been around my path and about
    my bed, will, in His good time, perform the perfect work of
    restoration.’”

Another remarkable fact must not be passed by:

    “One sabbath morning (says the pastor) a singular lapse of memory
    befell me, which I had never before and have never since experienced.
    When I rose from sleep I could not recollect any portion of the
    discourse which I had prepared on the day before; and, what was most
    strange, I could not even remember the text of the prepared sermon.
    I was perplexed, and walked out before breakfast in Kensington
    Gardens.  While there a particular text occurred to my mind; and my
    thoughts seemed to dwell on it so much that I resolved to preach from
    that without further attempting to recall what I had prepared, a
    thing which I had never ventured to do during all my ministry.

    “From this text I preached, and it was ‘Weeping may endure for a
    night, but joy cometh in the morning.’  I preached with great
    liberty, and in the course of the sermon I quoted the lines:

    ‘Beware of desperate steps! the darkest day—
    Live till to-morrow—will have passed away.’

    “I afterwards learned that a man in despair had that very morning
    gone to the Serpentine to drown himself in it.  For this purpose he
    had filled his pockets with stones, hoping to sink at once.  Some
    passengers, however disturbed him while on the brink, and he returned
    to Kensington, intending to drown himself in the dusk of the evening.
    On passing my chapel he saw a number of people crowding into it, and
    thought he would join them in order to pass away the time.  His
    attention was rivetted to the sermon, which seemed to be in part
    composed for him; and when he heard me quote the lines alluded to, he
    resolved to abandon his suicidal purpose.”

Another incident deserves relation:

    “A bricklayer came one evening drunk, yet towards the close was
    impressed.  The next Sunday he came again, and I noticed him as one
    of the two young men who had behaved rudely the Sabbath evening
    preceding; but he had been cut to the heart.  ‘I,’ said he to
    himself, ‘am the man intended.’  He soon fell ill, when the good work
    deepened.  He is now consistent.”

Dr. Leifchild left a list of thirty-two persons to whom he had been
useful, and under each name a notice of particulars connected with it.
{49}

There lived in one of the stately houses in Kensington Gore a gentleman,
commanding in person and polished in manners, who was drawn towards the
Dissenting pastor, though he had no affection for Dissenters.  “He
laughed at _them_ and liked _him_.  He was a staunch churchman, but came
occasionally to the chapel, where, as also in other places, he might be
distinguished by the flower always fastened in the buttonhole of his
coat.”

At the table of this hospitable gentleman the Kensington pastor met
Serjeant Goulburn, then a young man; Mr. Stephen, of anti-slavery renown
and Wilberforce’s friend; Miss Edgeworth, the novelist; and the John
Owen, early Secretary of the Bible Society.  The cheerful host
experienced a great reverse, lost a fortune on the Stock Exchange, but
bore it with equanimity, saying, when he came home and was asked by his
wife how he was, “Pretty well, my love, for a ruined man.”  Dr.
Leifchild, through the medium of rich neighbours, befriended him in his
trouble, for which he was ever afterwards grateful; and in subsequent
years I enjoyed the friendship of one of his daughters, who with her
husband, a Governor of the Bank of England, attended Hornton Street
Chapel when I was minister.  Her sisters also, who attained rank and
fortune, always felt kindly towards the place where their father
worshipped; but I knew nothing at that time of the circumstances
respecting him described in the “Life of Dr. Leifchild.”

Mr. Leifchild met with curious characters in Kensington:

    “The Honourable Mrs. S— lived next door to him.  One morning she said
    to him, looking over the garden wall, ‘Leifchild, can I come in; I
    want to speak to you?’

    “‘Certainly, Mrs. S—,’ was the reply, and they were soon together in
    my father’s parlour, when the following conversation took place, the
    lady commencing abruptly as follows:

    “‘Leifchild, I want a spade.’

    “‘A _spade_, madam!’ exclaimed her neighbour in astonishment.

    “‘Yes, a spade!’ was the rejoinder.

    “‘But, Mrs. S—, your garden is always in good order.’

    “‘Nonsense! you know what I mean.’

    “‘Well, I will send the servant round with a spade.’

    “‘Nonsense! you know I do not mean that.’

    “‘Excuse me, Mrs. S—, I really do not know what you mean.’

    “‘Well, then, you frightened me yesterday by saying that very few
    were converted after fifty years of age, and I am now forty-nine.
    And then you spoke of the diligent husbandman, and said we must all
    set to work.  Now, I mean to work, and that is why I want a spade.’

    “‘You shall have one, madam, and gladly too.  We have abundance of
    work, and shall be most thankful for your help.’” {51}

Prosperity attended the labours of Dr. Leifchild.  The congregation
greatly increased; galleries had to be erected and enlarged; and the
income, once estimated at £160 a year, rose to more than double that
amount.  Many were admitted to communion, but in what way exactly does
not appear, as the record of affairs respecting that period deals more in
temporal than spiritual matters.  No ecclesiastical contentions, properly
so called, ruffled the stream; but there seem to have been frequent
debates in the vestry about the state of the exchequer as regards paying
for the gallery, and defraying other incidental expenses.  Music created
more serious strife.  Mr. Broadwood, naturally enough, wished for an
instrument to help the singing, and liberally offered to place an organ
in the chapel, which Mr. Grey, a more true blue Presbyterian, did not
approve.  Correspondence arose and vestry meetings were held, in all of
which Mr. Broadwood appears to have acted most kindly, but the
conscientious scruples of his colleague could not be overcome.  The
latter left the chapel, and ultimately an organ was erected; but that did
not end all trouble, for the organist incurred criticism; and whilst some
good folks aimed at musical harmony, they were the occasion of
considerable social discord.  It is the old story; but no serious
division occurred, and after a slight storm there came a pleasant calm.

In our historical sketch it would be bad taste to pry into domestic
secrets, but the married life of Dr. Leifchild was so mixed up with the
interests of the congregation, that this part of our narrative would be
incomplete if no notice was taken of Mrs. Leifchild.  She was his second
wife, whom he married during this his first pastorate, and the idea he
entertained of this excellent lady appears in memoirs of her from his own
pen, entitled, “The Minister’s Helpmeet.”  She lightened his cares by
undertaking, at his request, the management of pecuniary matters, in
which, according to his son’s account, he does not appear to have been
particularly skilful.  “He abhorred all figures, but those of speech, and
the latter were too unsubstantial for the support of a household.  He
would prefer any book to his bank book (a figure of speech, for in truth
he never required one); and though not to be accused of extravagance, he
certainly was chargeable with some thoughtlessness.” {52}  “She was a
shrewd, discerning woman, with a keen insight into character—a quality of
priceless value in a minister’s wife.  She was generally correct in her
opinions of people, and her boldly pronounced forecasts of merits and
demerits in the circle of her acquaintance made a deep impression on her
family, whatever might be thought of them outside if revealed, which one
would hope they were not always.”  Her share in conducting the psalmody,
visiting the congregation, and promoting religious and charitable objects
was a topic of talk for years after she left the neighbourhood; and the
mutual affection of the genial couple supplied materials for pleasant
reminiscences in the minds of many an old friend.  Dr. Morison, of
Brompton, used to relate how he walked home from Kensington one old
year’s night or new year’s morning, as the moon shone brightly over the
frosty road, and hearing in the distance musical voices, he found, as he
came nearer, that two people were singing,—

       “Come, let us anew
       Our journey pursue,
       Roll round with the year,
    And never stand still till the Master appear.”

What was Dr. Morison’s surprise to find at last that the words proceeded
from the lips of the Kensington pastor and his wife.  As she was beloved
of him, so he was beloved of her.  I have heard her in later days extol,
in no measured terms, the excellences of his preaching, and also tell how
she liked to accompany him to village services, and visit cottages in the
neighbourhood, beating up recruits for the rustic congregation.  Once,
after a sermon in a little country chapel, I saw her go into the vestry
and lovingly kiss the old prophet, exclaiming with genuine fervour, “God
bless you, John.”  Such affection and admiration in an ancient lady seem
to me truly beautiful, and I trust no reader will think the incident two
trivial to be noticed here.

Some difference of judgment between the pastor and managers respecting
the mode of meeting incidental expenses led to a conference, when Dr.
Leifchild hinted at the possibility of his removing.  He did not approve
of the management scheme, and the managers immediately retired.  Their
letter of resignation was accepted at a Church meeting in December, 1821.
It was in August, 1824, that he received an invitation from Bristol, and
his acceptance of it he thus intimated to his people:—

    “Mr. Leifchild addressed the meeting, and stated that, from a variety
    of circumstances, he had seen it his duty to accept of an invitation
    to the pastoral office of Bridge Street, Bristol.  He assured the
    meeting that this step arose from no uncomfortableness in his present
    situation inducing a wish to depart; from no decay in the interest
    here; no want of attendance; no diminution in the affections of the
    people; nor from any pecuniary motives, as the salary proposed at
    Bristol was the same which he received here, £350 per annum, and that
    he had no prospect of its increase there which he had not here.  But
    his chief motives were the state of his health, which he hoped might
    be improved by a residence at a greater distance from the metropolis;
    the prospect of more extensive usefulness at that city; and above
    all, many indications to his mind that such was the will of
    Providence.  He concluded by requesting any one who was not
    satisfied, and wished for further information, to put any question to
    him to that effect, as he had nothing to conceal.  No question having
    been put, the meeting was dissolved with prayer.” {54}

Mrs. Leifchild might well be proud of her husband; and here, in
conclusion, let me repeat what I have said elsewhere: his sermons were
constructed upon the principle of reaching a climax in the peroration.
All prepared for that, and he used to lay down this maxim for pulpit
oratory: “Begin low, proceed slow; rise higher, catch fire; be
self-possessed when most impressed.”  Though he produced wonderful
effects at public meetings, the pulpit was his throne, where he ruled his
audience with a kind of imperial sway.  His skill in the introduction of
religious topics into common conversation was very remarkable, and he
abounded in anecdotes illustrative of scripture truth and spiritual
experience.  On his death bed he fancied himself entering within the
everlasting doors, and exclaimed, “Why, don’t you hear it, those
beautiful harps?  You can’t all go in with me.  I must go first; but keep
close behind me, and open the gates wide, wide, wide for all.”  On his
tombstone are inscribed these words of his own: “I will creep as well as
I can to Thy gates.  I will die at Thy door.  Yea, I will be found dead
on the threshold of Thy mercy, with the ring of that door in my hand.”
{55}



IV.  THE FOURTH PASTORATE.
_THE REV. ROBERT VAUGHAN_, _D.D._
1825–1843.


DR. LEIFCHILD relinquished the pastorate in August, 1824.  Dr. Vaughan
received a “call” signed by about eighty members, and this he accepted in
February, 1825.  His acceptance is dated from Worcester.  “It is not,” he
says, “without being truly thankful for the many blessings which have
accompanied my religious connection in this city that I yield to the
influence of circumstances, which in my own view and that of the more
judicious of my friends, fully warrant the step which I now take in
freely stating my acceptance of your call.  I do, however, wish you, my
dear friends, to be fully aware that I have not dared to proceed thus far
without confiding greatly in your deeper sympathies, and more fervent
prayers in my behalf.  The doctrines I have preached in your hearing will
never I trust lose their prominence in my ministry.  To my own heart they
yield its best, its only stay, and to apply them as a balm of
never-failing efficacy to your spirits is what I now propose as the one
object of my life while continued as your pastor.”

Dr. Vaughan was not educated at any of our colleges, but studied under
the Reverend William Thorp, of Bristol,—a man, the breadth of whose
intellect might be said to be symbolized by the extraordinary portliness
of his figure.  As there was much nobility in his nature, he might, in
that respect, be likened to a monarch of the forest,—with this additional
and curious resemblance, that whereas a lion rejoices in having two cubs
at a time, so the leonine Bristol pastor never had but two pupils under
his care, and they came both at once—Robert Vaughan and John Jukes.  The
latter presided over John Bunyan’s Church at Bedford; and I have heard
him and his friend at Kensington crack obvious jokes on their
relationship to each other, and to their remarkable instructor.  After
entering on the ministry, Dr. Vaughan spent six years at Worcester in
hard study, preparing himself for what he afterwards became.  There he
took an honourable position, but it could scarcely at first be augured
that he would rise to be what he ultimately was.

He was intensely devoted to reading, especially in the historical
department of literature, and of this he gave some presage as a boy when,
at the age of twelve, he carried home triumphantly Raleigh’s “History of
the World,” on the purchase of which he had invested a birthday gift.  He
largely overcame early defects in education; and by dint of extraordinary
diligence, acquired large stores of historical learning.  His tastes did
not lie in the same direction as Dr. Leifchild’s, and he never became the
popular preacher which his predecessor was; though on the platform, in
depth of thought, range of argument, and sometimes brilliancy of
illustration, he surpassed him.  Every man in his own order.  The one
excelled in appeals to the head, the other in appeals to the heart.  Each
did a vast deal of good in the Great Master’s service.

The recognition, or “ordination,” as it is called, of the new pastor took
place on the 5th of May, 1825.  The Reverend Joseph Hughes, of Battersea,
the Nonconformist Secretary of the British and Foreign Bible Society, and
a friend of Leifchild—who wrote interesting memoirs of his life—opened
the service with Scripture reading and prayers.  Dr. Winter, of New
Court, one of the leading city ministers, “stated the nature of a Gospel
Church”; Dr. Waugh offered the ordination prayer, for which his wonderful
“gift in prayer” eminently fitted him; Dr. Fletcher, of Stepney, “an
eloquent man,” delivered the charge; and George Clayton preached to the
people.

Kensington was considerably changed when the new pastor reached it.  The
suburb was much more populous than of yore.  Streets and squares,
terraces and crescents were rising and stretching here and there; but the
town, as it was now called, remained compact.  Beyond the turnpike road,
then bordered by only single lines of houses, there spread out north and
south a wide border country of market gardens and orchards; and my
predecessor told me of his dreary walks in winter, from his residence on
Notting Hill to Hornton Street Chapel.  No good pavement, no gas-lighted
lamps, existed then; and the wayfarer was left to pick his path as best
he could on pitch dark evenings, across Campden Hill, helped only by a
glimmering lantern carried in his hand.

Unfortunately the Kensington records supply scanty information respecting
the Vaughan period,—the years between November, 1825, and November, 1832,
being passed over without one single line; whilst before and after,
secular concerns are the chief subjects of entry.  Now the appointment of
new managers, then the retirement of a secretary, next the letting of
pews; and, as a variation, the erection of a tablet in the chapel to the
memory of a departed hearer.  These are the topics which occur on the
pages of the old parchment-bound volume.

The “History of Kensington” supplies a list of the institutions existing
in connection with Hornton Street just before the close of Dr.
Leifchild’s ministry, and these continued in working order under Dr.
Vaughan.

    “A Benevolent Society, for visiting, instructing, and relieving the
    sick poor of all descriptions, at their own habitations, and which is
    at present chiefly conducted by ladies belonging to the congregation.
    A Tract Society, for the dispersion of religious tracts by the
    subscribers, to whom they are furnished at reduced prices.  A Blanket
    Society, for the gratuitous distribution of blankets to the poor
    during the severity of the winter season.  The Infants’ Friendly
    Society,—a female institution, which provides clothing and
    nourishment for poor women and their children during their
    confinement.  An Auxiliary Missionary Society, to assist in the
    propagation of the Gospel in foreign parts, and which, by means of
    contributions of one penny per week (and upwards), raises the sum of
    nearly one hundred pounds per annum.  Besides these, collections are
    made at the chapel for the Hoxton Academy; and every severe winter,
    on a smaller scale, to assist in relieving the poor of the parish.”
    {61}

The Auxiliary Missionary Society greatly increased its contributions
under the new pastorate, and before Dr. Vaughan left they were, I
believe, more than doubled.  I remember attending a missionary meeting in
Hornton Street, soon after I entered the ministry in 1832, when a large
attendance in the chapel, a well-filled platform, and energetic speeches
by the pastor in the chair and by others, bore ample witness to the
missionary spirit which was reigning in the place.  One family in
particular, at a later period, was distinguished by zeal for the
conversion of the heathen, and did perhaps more than any other to fan the
flame of missionary benevolence.  I allude to the Newtons, who—with their
father, a deacon in the Church, and their mother, who was indeed “a
mother in Israel”—held a foremost place, not only in this respect, but in
other works of faith and labours of love.  Being warmly attached to Dr.
Vaughan, they all, parents and children, held up his hands and cheered
his heart.  One of Mr. Newton’s daughters, in my time, was married to the
Rev. J. H. Budden, a valuable missionary at Mirzapore; and it was during
Dr. Vaughan’s administration that this excellent man, then I think a
member of the Church, had devoted himself to the London Missionary
Society, of which, down to the present day, he has remained a
distinguished agent.  The young lady he married, and her sisters, were
indefatigable as collectors for Foreign Missions; and I have often
thought what a blessing it is for a congregation to have such helpers;
not only because they themselves feed streams of holy Christian charity,
but because by example and social influence they stimulate the usefulness
of others.  A sister of Mr. Budden’s, also connected with Kensington,
became the wife of Mr. Birt, a missionary who laboured assiduously and
successfully in South Africa; and it was a sad calamity for the Mission,
and her family at home, when, in early life, she was killed by an
accident, whilst travelling with her husband in a bullock wagon over an
African wild.

The Tract Society mentioned in the list just now cited developed into a
new form.  The Christian Instruction Society came into existence, and was
energetically taken up by Dr. Vaughan and his friends; meetings used to
be regularly held, when the visitors attended to report their labours,
and to receive small sums out of funds collected for relieving poor
people in the neighbourhood.

The Sunday School also received large attention and support from the
Newton family.  I believe that all the members were in the schools,
either as teachers or scholars; the mother being a model teacher, whose
praise in the congregation, amongst some of the old members, has echoed
down to this very day.  Kensington furnishes many illustrations of that
inspired saying, “The memory of the just is blessed.”

The Sunday School anniversary, at the end of March, was a high day.  Just
as the spring buds began to burst in the hedgerows which lined the
opposite side of the road, crowds of youngsters, full of springtide hope
and joy, were seen crowding within the doors to take part in the yearly
festival.  The boys occupied the gallery on one side, the girls filled
the other.  The little maidens on these occasions wore white caps, of
which they were rather proud, but as they were often criticised, the
practice of putting them on was entirely dropped about the year 1845.
The singing of special hymns by childish voices was a constant
accompaniment, and to many a great attraction.

Whilst these forms of usefulness went on in immediate connection with the
Church, outside of it stood two institutes of a thoroughly catholic
description—the British School and the Bible Society.

At the back of the old chapel were buildings occupied by the British
School, where a large number of boys and girls were educated upon
unsectarian principles.  Church people and Dissenters united in their
support, but the latter were foremost.  Elementary education at that
period was largely promoted by the voluntary efforts of the British and
the National School Societies; the first of these rallying round it the
ranks of Dissent, the second being a pillar of strength in the
Established Church.  The minister and deacons at Hornton Street took
special interest in the Kensington British School.

The British and Foreign Bible Society had a large auxiliary for many
years, comprehending a district which reached over both Westminster and
the Court suburb.  The annual meetings originally were held in the
Haymarket, sometimes under the presidency of Royal Dukes, when, during
the period of Dr. Leifchild’s ministry, he would be sure to be present,
and make telling speeches in his own characteristic style.  In the latter
period of his pastorate, I believe, the district narrowed; certainly in
Dr. Vaughan’s time the auxiliary had formed itself into distinct
branches, and the Kensington one was wont to hold its own meetings.  The
King’s Arms, by the palace gates had an assembly room in which the
friends of the Bible Society used to meet in Dr. Vaughan’s days, and
there he did not fail by his sonorous eloquence impressively to commend
the circulation of the Holy Scriptures throughout the world, as equally a
Christian duty and a Christian privilege.  On the platform, especially in
later years, on denominational and patriotic questions, he often
surpassed himself.  The light from under his knitted brow, his compressed
lips, his lordly bearing, his significant attitude and graceful
gestures—something dramatic appeared in his oratory on such
occasions—revealed much out of the ordinary way, and raised in listeners
high expectations, which were rarely disappointed.

Dr. Vaughan spent more time at home than in visiting his people, not
always to the satisfaction of the latter; but his profiting appeared unto
all men, and his more intelligent hearers appreciated the results of his
diligent study.  He gradually rose into fame as an author, and his “Life
of Wickliffe” won for him a high reputation.  Other historical works,
which it is needless to specify, made him still more widely known, and
literary men honoured the Kensington pastor as an ornament to their
profession.  His authorship led to his London University professorship.
History was his _forte_, and as Professor of Modern History in the new
academical institute, he did good service.  All these laurels served to
attract thoughtful and cultivated people to Hornton Street.  Inferior in
numbers to many, the congregation, perhaps, in reference to the educated
class, was inferior to none.  Some of the aristocracy might now and then,
during the latter part of his ministry, and afterwards, be seen within
the humble walls.  The Duchess of Sutherland and Lady Mary Fox were, I
know, great admirers of the Doctor; and the former of these ladies—so
queen-like in her appearance and manners—was once, I am told, present at
a prayer meeting in the little Kensington schoolroom.  The pastor was
thankful to have opportunities of usefulness amongst people of rank, but
he had no idea of flattering the great and seeking their patronage.  I am
quite sure from what I knew of him, and from conversation on the subject,
he valued an occasional attendance of distinguished persons, much talked
of at the time, only on account of the good he hoped to do them, not at
all on account of any assistance they rendered, or any _éclat_ they
conferred.  Though of humble extraction, he was one of Nature’s nobility,
without assumption or servility, he could bear himself well amongst the
noblest of the land.

One word ought to be said about his son—a member of the Church, and whom
I think I now see sitting in the table pew, with his intellectual face,
and long raven locks, looking up with loving eyes to his parent and
pastor.  The Doctor was proud of his son, and well he might be.  But
thankfulness for such a treasure went beyond all pride.  The youth won
the praises of such men as Sir James Stephen and Charles Kingsley, and
had he been spared he would have proved a great blessing to the Church of
God.  But his “sun went down whilst it was yet day,” and this bereavement
proved the greatest trial and sorrow of the father’s life.  The son
resembled the father, not much in his mental habits, but very much in his
pulpit appearance and manners.  I remember an old deacon saying, after he
had heard “Alfy,” as his father called him, preach for me after I came to
Kensington, “He’s a chip of the old block.”

It was in the year 1843 that Dr. Vaughan received an invitation to become
Principal of Lancashire Independent College.  Immediately afterwards a
special meeting of the Church was held, and it is thus reported in the
records:—

    “The letter of the Rev. Dr. Raffles, chairman of the committee,
    containing the invitation, was read, and reference was made by Dr.
    Vaughan to circumstances which seemed to make his continuance in
    Kensington desirable and important, and to others which went to give
    a strong claim to the call from Manchester.  It was intimated in
    conclusion, that the meeting had been called, not for the purpose of
    giving expression, at that time, to any opinion on either side of the
    subject, but simply for the purpose of making the Church and
    communicants aware of the various considerations which it would be
    necessary carefully to weigh, in order to the formation of a wise and
    Christian judgment on the subject.”

It is natural that the Kensington people should be reluctant to part with
such a pastor as they possessed; but, with a noble unselfishness worthy
of imitation, they thought as much of the welfare of the Church at large
as of their own.  An extract from the letter they sent to him deserves
insertion:—

    “It would be to our honour, and it would afford us pleasure, to
    enumerate, as we could, other considerations connected with your
    character and attainments affecting the religious interests in this
    place, which might naturally induce us to urge you to continue among
    us; but we feel bound in this communication to deal faithfully as
    those who fear God, the God of Truth, and we must therefore
    acknowledge, dear sir, that while we are deeply pained at the
    possibility of your leaving us, we are conscious that you possess
    moral and intellectual qualities which eminently fit you to occupy
    the very important post selected for you by your brethren in the
    ministry; and as we value His blessing who alone can bless, we dare
    not, if we could, interpose to prevent your acceptance of that
    distinguished and honourable offer, if it shall appear to you to be
    the will of God that you should accept it.”

Soon after Dr. Vaughan had sent in his resignation, he wrote to me
inviting an interview for the purpose of ascertaining whether there might
be a likelihood of my leaving Windsor, where I had been happily “settled”
for eleven years.  I was taken by surprise, though I had before received
intimations from brethren that it might be my duty to undertake a sphere
of wider service than I then occupied.  I could give no reply to Dr.
Vaughan at the moment, but told him I must at once consult my Windsor
friends.  This may seem strange, but we had so much mutual affection and
confidence, that I could trust to their disinterestedness, whilst they
trusted to my attachment.  The result was, after much anxious conference,
and the advice of two eminent brethren who happened to be on a visit to
Windsor, {68} that I consented to preach at Kensington, with a view to
the pastorate.  I had no desire to leave Windsor.  Far from it.  I longed
to remain, if it were the will of God, and in that spirit prayed for
direction.  After preaching a few times, I received a cordial and
unanimous invitation to Kensington, and the Windsor Church agreed to my
acceptance of it with expressions of unabated affection, saying they knew
I must leave them, and that if I went away to so short a distance, there
seemed more chance of their seeing me often afterwards.  The spirit
manifested by the Society left and the Society joined was so beautiful,
that I record the fact as expressive of my own gratitude, and as an
example worthy of imitation.  Before Dr. Vaughan went into Lancashire,
steps had been taken with a view to this result, and within two months it
was accomplished.  Some may think this a hasty settlement; at all events
it lasted for thirty-two years, with growing affection on both sides.

The following letter of acceptance was written on the 27th of July,
1843:—

    “MY DEAR BRETHREN,—

    “I do not think it desirable to delay any longer than is absolutely
    necessary a decided reply to the unanimous and affectionate
    invitation which you have sent me, to accept the pastoral office.  It
    appears to me to be the path of duty to remove from my present charge
    to the Church at Kensington.  Had I not been gradually prepared for
    this step, I do not think I could have found it in my heart thus to
    sever the tie which has pleasantly bound me for more than eleven
    years to my present people; but the way has been opened by degrees,
    and the hand of Providence has, I conceive, now placed me in a
    position, with regard to you, from which it would not be proper to
    retreat.

    “Confiding in the sincerity of that approval and affection which you
    are pleased to express, and above all, looking up to the Fountain of
    all good, for His aid and blessing, I venture to advance, and accept
    your united call.

    “The spirit of supplication which has marked your proceedings, in
    reference to this matter, gives me the strongest ground to hope that
    in this instance the voice of the Church is the voice of God.  I am
    deeply sensible of the great responsibility I incur in accepting so
    important a charge, especially as the successor of one whose eminence
    in the Christian world might well provoke, in relation to myself,
    humiliating comparisons.  But I rest on Him who can successfully
    employ the humblest instrumentality in His service.  Let me hope that
    the spirit of prayer I have already referred to may continue, and
    that you will earnestly seek an enlarged effusion of Divine influence
    on my anticipated labours.  The consciousness of many infirmities and
    imperfections compel me, at the very commencement of our new
    relationship, to implore that you will ever manifest toward me that
    candour and forbearance which I feel that I shall especially need.”

Before I pass on to the new pastorate, it should be stated, in reference
to Dr. Vaughan’s ministry at Kensington, that for some little time before
his removal to Lancashire, the Rev. N. Jennings, M.A., F.R.A.S., became
associated with him as assistant minister, and in that capacity he
rendered important service, especially in conducting Bible classes,—his
instructions were highly appreciated by the youthful members of the
congregation.



V.  THE FIFTH PASTORATE.
_THE REV. JOHN STOUGHTON_, _D.D._
1843–1875.


THE new pastor felt his removal from Windsor very deeply; and on the
first Sunday of his regular ministry in Kensington he was anything but
himself—certainly by no means at home.  He thought next day the people
must have repented of their choice.  Matters, however, mended afterwards,
though a good while passed before he could accommodate himself to altered
circumstances; but the kindness he everywhere met with gave him
increasing encouragement.

A recognition service was held on October 31st, 1843, when his old friend
and neighbour, Dr. Morison, delivered an introductory discourse; the late
minister, Dr. Vaughan, gave the charge; and his predecessor, Dr.
Leifchild, addressed the congregation.  It was a pleasant circumstance
that three successive pastors of the same Church shared in the solemn
service; and but for uncontrollable hindrances, the predecessor of them
all, Mr. Clayton, would have been present to assist.  Dr. Vaughan’s
charge was most impressive; and the allusion he made to himself and his
successor, as thenceforth associated like fellow-workmen in the same
edifice, was very striking from the manner in which it was put; and the
listener was led to hope that if diligent, devout, and earnest, he would
meet his friend in the world of light, when all results of faithful
labour will be finally revealed.

On reviewing the appearance of the neighbourhood, compared with what it
was years before, changes were visible.  Kensington had enlarged, the
population had increased; still there were rural spaces between the Court
suburb and the neighbouring localities; and people from Paddington, from
Brompton, and from Knightsbridge took long country walks to their chosen
place of worship.  Hence pastoral visitation required much time and some
toil; and many were the wanderings in unknown neighbourhoods, taken by
the new minister in order to secure an acquaintance with his hearers.

The congregation had become large in the latter part of Dr. Vaughan’s
time; and old families who had loved him did not transfer, but rather
extended their attachment to the object of their recent choice.  Without
mentioning names, which would be invidious, there was _here_ an old
gentleman who looked well after his pastor’s interests; _there_ an old
lady with a large school, who did all she could to bring her pupils under
the spiritual influence of the preacher they heard from week to week; and
_elsewhere_ a family group outstretching helpful hands for all sorts of
good works.  The kindness, candour, and forbearance of all were
wonderful; and if a few were not reconciled at first to the change which
had happened, and naturally sighed at the loss they had sustained, they
never evinced alienation, but gradually came to listen lovingly to the
pulpit occupant, whom the Great Master, they believed, had sent amongst
them.  Many new attendants gradually sought sittings on the old spot;
some of them long since entered a better world and a better Church, and
others still remain, who kindly greet the retired shepherd whenever,
happily for himself, he comes in their way.

It may be mentioned that Kensington, on many accounts, has long been a
favourite place of residence for artists and literary men, and a few of
these became some occasional, others regular hearers.  Two Royal
Academicians, and one of the editors of _Punch_, will be remembered by
some who read these pages; and an eminent sculptor still remains faithful
to his early ecclesiastical attachment.  In later days the present
President of the Institution of Civil Engineers {73} removed from the
north to Kensington, and fully won the confidence and affection of his
pastor; others, whom it would be boastful to mention, and some still
spared for great usefulness, lightened the load of his cares and
increased the sum of his enjoyments.

One most interesting fact should not be passed over.  Kensington was
remarkable for ladies’ boarding schools, and a number of the pupils
attended Hornton Street chapel.  Thus the pastor gathered round him a
circle in which he took a very lively interest.  Friendships were then
formed which have since been the joy of his life; and in the evening of
his days it is his privilege to regard several of them still with a
fatherly affection, to which they faithfully respond.

Curious characters at different periods, it may be added would come into
the vestry to have a little chat; a gentleman during the Crimean War
gravely proposed to the preacher of peace a clever scheme for blowing up
Sebastopol; and at another time one of clerical appearance repeated, with
extraordinary rapidity, long passages out of the Greek Testament.

Immediately after the commencement of the new pastorate, important
questions arose as to the administration of ecclesiastical
affairs—indeed, as to the proper constitution of the Church.  The
narrative in this volume has shown that the congregation at Hornton
Street was originally gathered by Presbyterians; and that though no
definite form of polity was adopted, the method of proceedings followed
somewhat the Presbyterian model.  The institution of _elders_ was
proposed, but not carried out; _managers_, whose office seems to have
resembled somewhat that of elders, were at once appointed.  For a long
time they distinctly and frequently appear in the records of the Society.
Moreover, at first mention is made of “communicants,” “members,” and
“subscribers”, but the word “Church” occurs only now and then, until the
appellation became established in Dr. Leifchild’s time.  “Deacons,” too,
are mentioned, but not in a way to indicate what were their distinct
duties, and in what manner they were chosen.  “Managers” continued to
administer affairs all the way through; and such persons held office down
to the termination of Dr. Vaughan’s ministry.  The practice, when he
left, was strictly congregational; but still the existence of “managers,”
in distinction from deacons, lingered on,—the managers having chiefly to
do with the collection of subscriptions and the support of the minister.
When the new pastorate opened, it was thought time to put an end to what,
on Congregational principles, is an anomaly, and to reduce the
administrative power to the scriptural form of bishop and deacons.  Hence
the office of manager was abolished, and an election of new deacons
followed.  Those who had been called “managers” were now elected to the
diaconate, and new men were added to the number.  Altogether they now
amounted to seven; their names being Messrs. Newton, James, Hine, Walker,
Thurston, Tomlin, and Watson.  To give additional importance to this new
step in the Church’s history, it was thought desirable to have special
services connected with it; therefore, first the pastor, at a special
Church meeting, explained the nature of the office, as given in the New
Testament, and next Dr. Tidman, at a week evening lecture, delivered an
appropriate address to the newly-chosen officers.  The Church now, in
form as well as spirit, received a decidedly Congregational impress; and
so it has continued ever since.  From time to time new diaconal elections
were held, as vacancies occurred; the ballot being adopted, though the
names of suitable persons could be mentioned beforehand, the pastor and
those already in office being allowed, not indeed to _dictate_, but to
_suggest_ such as seemed most qualified for the office.  The
last-mentioned deacon on the list just given—Mr. Robert Watson, of
Hammersmith—ought to be specially noticed, for he wrought a practical
change in the conduct of Church business little appreciated at the time.
Being a most conscientious, methodical, and business-like man, as well as
a devout and earnest Christian, he, as secretary of the official staff,
conducted everything in the most orderly manner.  I have heard him say
that Church business occupied the chief time of one of his clerks.  The
change he introduced into the minutes of proceedings is very striking.
Whereas before, entries were vague and irregular, and no clue is afforded
to determine when and how members were admitted; after Mr. Watson took
office, Church meetings are reported from month to month, with the
greatest regularity; and it can be seen at once who were received into
communion, and what of a spiritual or secular kind transpired.  He and
his brethren revised the list of members every year, striking off with
inexorable decision the names of such as had ceased to attend the Lord’s
Supper.  In March, 1848, it was made a standing rule, “That any member
being absent from the Lord’s Table for six consecutive months without
sufficient cause assigned, shall, after notice to the party and mention
to the Church, be considered to have withdrawn from the communion of this
Church.”  It may be added, that a distinction was made between members in
full communion—having a right to vote in the choice of “bishop and
deacons,” and on other ecclesiastical questions—and persons only
occasional communicants, not adopting Nonconformist opinions, though from
spiritual sympathy wishing to unite with the Church at the Lord’s Table.
Occasional communion often led the way to complete fellowship; the
communicant, however, had to be elected at a Church meeting to a full
share in ecclesiastical rights and privileges.

It may be mentioned further that young people, before they reached an age
which would justify their giving a vote respecting Church affairs, were
allowed to partake of the Lord’s Supper, their subsequent full admission
to fellowship depending upon their election in the usual manner.  That
“manner” was in accordance with the usual practice in Congregational
Churches half a century ago.  A candidate first had an interview with the
pastor; then he or she was proposed to the Church; one of the deacons
_generally_, but not _always_, had conversation with the individual; and
at the next Church meeting, after a report of eligibility, the election
followed by a show of hands. {77}

That all particulars relating to the constitution of the Church may be
disposed of at once, it remains to be remarked, that when a new trust
deed of Church premises had to be made, instead of the Assembly’s
Catechism being recognised as a standard of belief, a short general
statement of evangelical doctrines was employed.

The year 1845 completed the first half century of the Church’s existence,
and it was deemed fit that the jubilee should be celebrated by a special
service.  Accordingly,” a commemorative discourse” was delivered on the
13th of April by the pastor, and it appeared in print at the request of
the congregation.  Two passages may be introduced:—

    “With devout gratitude it should be remembered that the past half
    century has been marked with peace.  While some Churches have been
    torn with intestine strife, or wrecked by schisms, or reduced to a
    mere shadow by heartless formality, the communion of the faithful in
    this place has been a practical illustration of the Psalmist’s words,
    ‘Behold! how good and pleasant a thing it is for brethren to dwell
    together in unity;’ while at the same time they have exemplified the
    principle that progress is the law of spiritual existence in
    societies as well as in individuals.  It has not been the
    peacefulness of death, but the peacefulness of life which has reigned
    over this spot; not the calmness of the stagnant pool, but the smooth
    and gentle flow of living waters; not the stillness of the rocky
    desert, where all is desolate and bare and cold, but the silence of
    the garden and the grove, where vitality gushes through many a
    channel, and proves its presence and power by abundance of foliage,
    flowers, and fruit.

    “Every Church should be a kind of missionary station for its whole
    vicinity, a centre of exertion and influence telling on the
    surrounding sphere; a lighthouse built on a rock, lifting aloft the
    lamps of truth, warning, and invitation; or, rather, a floating light
    moving in the person of its members through the adjacent district, to
    illuminate the benighted, to guide the wanderer, and to save the soul
    from moral shipwreck.  Happily, the obligation to exemplify an active
    Christianity is now acknowledged by our Churches in general; and an
    apparatus adapted to the evangelization of the bordering territory is
    held to be essential to their completeness.  We feel the obligation
    ourselves, and, by the Divine blessing, we have much of the religious
    machinery of the day at work upon this spot.  But still, does it not
    admit of question whether, as the advocates of a system which boasts
    of its untrammelled freedom of action, and its vigorous voluntary
    power; as those who believe that our cause, to use the words of Dr.
    Doddridge, is ‘the cause of evangelical piety’; as those, especially,
    who profess to be under everlasting and infinite obligation to Him
    from whom we have received our light and salvation;—I repeat, does it
    not admit of question, whether we are doing all that might be fairly
    expected of us, for the diffusion of the truths we so much value
    throughout the neighbourhood where we are located; whether our
    energies are put forth to the full for the extension of the cause in
    a place which numbers its 27,000 inhabitants, nearly four times the
    number of the population fifty years ago, when this chapel was built;
    whether we have provided all the means of Christian education we
    might and ought, especially for those of our neighbours who are lying
    around in vast masses, covered with the gloom of spiritual ignorance,
    and paralysed, to an awful degree, by moral insensibility?  While
    there is much, very much, already done, which should encourage our
    hearts and fill us with gratitude, is there not much, very much, yet
    to be accomplished, to which Providence seems most urgently to bid us
    put an earnest, steady, persevering hand.”

Important consequences resulted from these hints.  In May it was
resolved, “That a special meeting of the Church should be convened, and
that members should be informed that the deacons have considered it
desirable that certain alterations should be made in order to provide
increased accommodation.”  Such a meeting was held, and it determined
that the chapel should be enlarged by throwing the vestry and small
schoolroom behind the pulpit wall, with the organ gallery, into the body
of the building, so that a considerable number of additional sittings
might be provided for the enlarged congregation.  Such an alteration was
effected, and the chapel was re-opened in October by Dr. Vaughan.

In connection with the chapel enlargement, additional accommodation was
provided at the back of the premises for the British and Sunday schools.
These alterations created an impetus, happily felt by people and pastor.
Various kinds of work went on, two of which may be mentioned: first, the
delivery of a course of lectures in the new schoolroom on “Christian
Evidences,” which attracted large audiences from week to week; and next,
the institution of a Bible class, including the whole of the week evening
congregation, when expositions of Scripture were given by the pastor,
followed by a list of questions.  These questions were taken home, and
the week after written replies were brought.  In many instances the
replies were of a very superior order, and the reading of the papers
excited a very deep interest.  The exercise proved a success, and the
schoolroom was often crowded on these occasions.

The chapel, enlarged in 1845, became in 1847 too small to accommodate
sufficiently the increased number of attendants, and to meet the
spiritual wants of the neighbourhood.  A select meeting in Hornton Street
vestry speedily followed, to consider what, under the circumstances,
ought to be attempted, and the result was a resolution to erect a new
chapel at Bayswater, to which a portion of the Kensington congregation
living in the Bayswater neighbourhood might remove. {81}  This measure
was advocated by the pastor as the right way of promoting the interest of
Evangelical Congregationalism.  To wait till bickerings arose, and
diversions occurred in consequence, was truly mischievous.  To “swarm”
like bees, a goodly number removing to a new hive, that was a wise
method, which God would be sure to bless.  Mr. Walker, who lived at
Bayswater, was anxious for a chapel there, and before the little party in
the vestry separated, much more than £1,000 was promised.  Soon the
amount reached the sum of £1,700.  A committee was formed for the
fulfilment of the enterprise.

The year 1848 is memorable in the history of Europe.  It will be
remembered that just then the Continent shook with political convulsions
from end to end; and in the month of April the inhabitants of London felt
intense anxiety, owing to the Chartist demonstration on Kennington
Common.  The Sunday before that incident a considerable number of Hornton
Street hearers consisted of gentlemen just sworn in as special
constables; and the grave and earnest manner of all present was increased
by the Rev. William Walford, who preached on the occasion, and referred
to his own recollections of what took place in England when, from week to
week, it heard of the Paris Reign of Terror.  God, he said, had brought
this country through a more terrible excitement then, and would still be
a protector of those who trusted in Him.  Thus amidst political storms
the foundation of Horbury Chapel was laid, even as Hornton Street, more
than half a century before, had been built when England felt the throes
of the French Revolution.

The corner-stone of Horbury Chapel was laid by Sir Culling Eardley,
August 30th, 1848.  The new building was completed and opened in
September, 1849.  The Sunday before a sermon was preached at Kensington
from the words, “_We be brethren_,” and the spirit of those words was
embodied in all the proceedings which ensued.

About one hundred seat-holders left Hornton Street for Horbury; and about
forty members, including two very influential deacons, Messrs. Newton and
Walker, resigned, and migrated to the new settlement.  They requested, in
a letter dated October 29th, 1849, their dismissal in the following
appropriate terms:—

    “We, the undersigned members of the above communion, purposing to
    separate ourselves from it, in order to form a Church at Horbury
    Chapel, Notting Hill, of the same faith and order, affectionately
    request that the necessary dismissal may be granted to us for the
    purpose.

    “While recognising the tie which for various periods has outwardly
    bound us together in Church fellowship,—we desire ever to continue
    attached to each other in the bonds of the Gospel, and would
    gratefully acknowledge the goodness of our heavenly Father in having
    so long vouchsafed to the Church at Hornton Street His presence and
    blessing—in supplying it with a succession of faithful pastors, in
    honouring the preaching of His Word by them, in creating a spirit of
    activity and desire for usefulness on the part of so many of our
    fellow-members, and in permitting love and union to prevail in our
    midst.  We pray that these blessings may long be continued to you,
    and be realized by us in our new connection; that there may be
    speedily sent to us a pastor, a man after God’s own heart, who shall
    preach the Gospel fully and freely, deacons who shall purchase to
    themselves a good degree, and that we and our fellow-members,
    individually, as well as in our associated character, may be
    distinguished alike for our humility and piety, and for our activity
    and devotedness to the cause of Christ.”

It is interesting here to remember that, whilst the chapel was being
built, the idea arose that the new and the old congregations might remain
united under a common pastorate of two or three ministers, they
interchanging pulpits with each other from week to week, the communicants
in the two places at the same time forming together one organic Church.
This would have been very gratifying to the Hornton Street pastor, and
would have coincided with his views of primitive municipal Churches; but
practical difficulties arose, and the scheme was abandoned.  In lieu of
it, however, the communicants at Kensington and Notting Hill resolved
annually to partake of the Lord’s Supper together, a practice which has
since been continued with hallowed and pleasant results.

If 1848 was a year of storms, 1851, when the first English Exhibition was
opened, will ever be remembered as a year of peace.  It seemed as though
the millennium had dawned.  “No more wars now,” thought many a sanguine
spirit, soon to be undeceived in this respect; but the tranquillity and
good-will amongst the hundreds of thousands who thronged to the Crystal
Palace are undeniable, and the effect of it on the Kensington Independent
congregation was manifest in crowded attendances and in animated
services, for which the artistic wealth and the manifold associations of
the great gathering furnished the pastor with manifold illustrations.

The rising tide of the Church at Kensington did not ebb when the
Exhibition was over; and owing to this, in the year 1854, the friends
found it necessary to consider whether they ought not to build a new and
much larger place of worship for themselves and their neighbours.
Promised subscriptions speedily opened the way to the execution of this
enterprise; and in June, 1854, the pastor laid the first stone of the
chapel in Allen Street.  The chapel was opened in May, 1855, when the
Rev. Thomas Binney preached in the morning, and the Hon. and Rev. Baptist
Noel in the evening.  On the following Sunday the opening services were
continued, Dr. John Harris preaching in the morning, and the pastor in
the evening.  The Rev. William Brock closed the series on the following
Tuesday evening.

The entire cost, including purchase of the land, was £8,748 9_s._ 6_d._,
and the whole was paid for on the last Sunday in January, 1860, when
public collections reached the amount of £365 10_s._ 2_d._,—being seven
shillings more than was required.

In the autumn of 1856 the Church lost one of its most active deacons.
Mr. Padgett (brother-in-law of the pastor), who had been formerly a
deacon at Trevor Chapel, Brompton, died suddenly whilst travelling in
Switzerland, and it became the pastor’s painful duty to preach the
funeral sermon, just after his own return from a continental tour.  The
text selected was Amos v. 8: “Seek Him that maketh the seven stars and
Orion, and turneth the shadow of death into the morning, and, maketh the
day dark with night.”

A season of great anxiety occurred in the month of January, 1857, when
the pastor received an invitation from New College to become Principal of
that institution, upon the death of the lamented Dr. Harris.  The
intimate connection between the pastor and that college—he having taken
an active part in the foundation of it, and having declined one of the
professorships offered at that time—made him particularly anxious to
ascertain the path of duty at this crisis.  He informed the deacons of
what had occurred, and sought their advice.  He wished to decide, not
according to any preconceived plan, but as it might appear on a
comparison of claims, arising from the college on the one hand, and the
Church on the other.  The deacons returned the following answer:—

    “Having this evening met to consider the important communication
    which you submitted to us last Tuesday, in reference to the
    invitation given to you to succeed the late Dr. Harris as Principal
    of New College, we have prayerfully, and with thoughtful earnestness,
    endeavoured to view the matter in all its bearings, and we thank you
    for the confidence implied in the fact of your having referred the
    matter to us.

    “Although as deacons of the Church under your charge its interests
    naturally present themselves prominently before us, we have sought to
    avoid any selfish or contracted feelings in reference to that Church,
    and have desired to take an enlarged view of the interests of the
    Church of Christ as a whole.  Our first attention has been given to
    the suggestion made by you as to the practicability of your retaining
    a limited connection with Kensington Chapel as minister while
    undertaking the principalship; and our feeling is that it could not
    be done with comfort to yourself or advantage to the Church.

    “In considering the matter generally, the following points have
    occurred to us as deserving of serious attention:—

    “1.  The special claims of Kensington as a sphere of labour for an
    intelligent Christian minister.

    “2.  Your peculiar qualifications for representing the interests of
    Nonconformity in the neighbourhood.

    “3.  The peaceful and prosperous state of the Church under your
    charge.

    “4.  The claims of a confiding and affectionate people who, within
    the last two years, have manifested their attachment by erecting our
    present place of worship at a cost of several thousand pounds, of
    which a large amount still remains due.

    “5.  Your success as a preacher, and your increasing acceptableness
    to your own people.

    “6.  The more limited opportunity which would be afforded to you at
    New College of exercising your talents as a preacher.

    “7.  The difficulty which the Church anticipates in securing an
    appropriate successor.

    “8.  The fact that it would not be more difficult (if as much so) to
    supply the vacant office than your vacant pulpit.

    “Other considerations, which we need not enumerate, have occurred to
    our minds.  The foregoing we venture to submit to your attention.
    They have led us to the conclusion that, however honourable the
    invitation may be to you, and however it may be pressed upon your
    notice, and however usefully you might be employed in it, it does not
    appear to us to be your duty to relinquish your present position and
    sphere, where you have been so much blessed, in order to undertake
    the office in question.”

This letter decided the point.  Attractive as was the post at New
College, the claims of the Church at Kensington, especially so soon after
the building of the new chapel, appeared more urgent: and it may be added
that the deacons, especially Mr. Watson, turned the incident to account
by proposing that £1,000 should be raised as a thank-offering for the
continuance of the existing pastorate, the sum to be employed in
liquidation of the chapel debt.  This amount contributed to its entire
extinction.

Encouraging years of labour followed, and in 1860 additions to the Church
reached their highest point up to that time,—a proof of the Divine
blessing on what had been done and determined; and it was regarded as a
cause for special gratitude and thanksgiving.

The new chapel was thoroughly repaired and embellished in 1863, at a cost
of about £600.  Of this amount the sum of £400 was subscribed beforehand,
and the rest was obtained by collections on the last Sunday of January,
1864.

In the spring of 1865 the Church, long aware of their pastor’s wish to
visit the Holy Land, most generously came forward to gratify him in this
respect, and opened a subscription which amounted, almost immediately, to
the sum of £400, which was placed at his disposal to defray the expenses
of the journey.  A public meeting followed, when the money, enclosed
within a tastefully devised oriental-like purse, mounted in gold, was
presented, with an intimation that, during the absence of about four
months, the friends would undertake to pay supplies.  Before his
departure he delivered two sermons on the first Sunday in February, and
on the 7th of the month started with Dr. Allon, Dr. Spence, the Rev. John
Bright, of Dorking, and Mr. Stanley Kemp Welch, on the much talked of
trip. {88}  It proved successful and gratifying, except that a serious
illness befel Dr. Spence during his journey, and that the Kensington
pastor returned as yellow as an old Indian, much to the dismay of his
flock when they lovingly welcomed him back to the pulpit.  The temporary
attack of jaundice, however, proved not at all injurious, as after his
recovery from it his health was if anything better than before.
Certainly the journey gave him an interest in Palestine, and in the
Scriptures relating to it, greater than ever, and furnished ample
materials for lectures to the congregation.

The year after his return from the Holy Land he expressed a wish, not
only for his own sake, but the better to meet spiritual wants in the
Church and the surrounding district, that an assistant should be
provided; and this matter came before the Church in February, 1866, when
the following resolution was passed: “That this meeting desires to
express its cordial concurrence in the deacons’ proposal for the
appointment of an assistant to the minister, to be selected by him, and
to be sustained, as an experiment for one year, by a special fund.”  In
pursuance of this resolution the Rev. Alden Davies became assistant
minister, and proved so useful in visitation, superintendence of classes,
and preaching on Sunday afternoons, and other occasions, that his
services were prolonged for three years, greatly to the comfort of his
senior colleague, and the satisfaction of his numerous friends.

Two important incidents occurred in 1868.  The first was the celebration
of the twenty-fifth anniversary of the pastor’s ministry at Kensington,
when a large public meeting was held in the month of October.  The Rev.
Thomas Binney took the chair, and was surrounded by a numerous company of
London ministers.  Numerous congratulatory speeches were delivered, but
that which alone needs particular notice was the statement read by Mr.
Shepheard, one of the deacons of the Church who for many years had
rendered most valuable and important services.  He stated that in 1843
there were 251 members, and that since 1843, 1,200 members had been
added, the number on the Church roll at the time the meeting was held
being about 500; so, he said, “the Church has been doubled in number
since our pastor commenced his ministry amongst us.”  This report
appeared all the more gratifying when it was remembered that in 1849
forty members had been dismissed to the new Church at Horbury.  He also
read a long list of sums, amounting altogether to £32,821, contributed by
the congregation during twenty-five years, independently of the amount
raised for the support of the ministry, and for incidental expenses in
carrying on worship.  Of the sum just mentioned, nearly £1,300 had been
devoted to chapel and school building purposes; nearly £9,000 to
missionary operations; £5,630 to the advancement of education; and £5,480
to relieving the poor.  The other incident of this year 1868 was the
laying of the first stone of the new schools in Allen Street.

It had for a long time been felt desirable that enlarged accommodation
should be provided for the Sunday and Day Schools.  The buildings in
Hornton Street had become too small and altogether inconvenient.  The
Metropolitan Railway Company in 1868 wanted to purchase the premises for
their own purposes, and this opportune circumstance enabled the friends
to accomplish their long-cherished desire.  Part of the ground in Allen
Street purchased for the site of the chapel remained unoccupied.  A plan
for erecting almshouses on it had been suggested, but it failed though
favoured by several friends.  It was now available for schools, and
consequently became appropriated for that purpose.

It was at first intended that the laying of the first stone should form
part of the celebration just described, but circumstances compelled a
postponement of the ceremony; it was, however, performed by the pastor
soon afterwards.

When the twenty-eighth year of the existing pastorate arrived, the
pastor, having reached the sixty-fourth year of his age, expressed to the
Church an idea which he had cherished through his whole ministerial life.
The first few years after his ordination he spent as a junior co-pastor,
and his desire was, should he reach old age, that the last few years
should be spent in service as a senior co-pastor.  He thought at his age
it was time to contemplate such an arrangement.  This, with various
considerations supporting his opinion, he submitted to his people,
entreating them to remember the subject in private prayer.  In the month
of April, 1871, the Church resolved “that the time had arrived when
provision should be made for supplementing the minister’s services by the
appointment of a co-pastor.”  The Rev. Chas. S. Slater, of Nottingham,
having preached at Kensington with much acceptance, the Church, in the
month of March, 1872, sent him a cordial and unanimous invitation to
become co-pastor; but he stated that he felt obliged to decline it,
whilst acknowledging the receipt of it in highly becoming terms.  The
obligation arose from the circumstance that his people at Nottingham were
engaged in the building of schools, an enterprise to the completion of
which he stood pledged, and therefore he could not leave in the midst of
the undertaking.  Disappointed in this attempt, and discouraged by
further inquiries, the pastor informed the Church that “as difficulties
in securing a co-pastor were found to be so great, it had been thought
desirable for the present to seek the services of an assistant minister,
and that the pastor would in the meantime avail himself of student’s help
on Sunday evenings.”

The plan of occasional help on Sunday evenings did not prove a success.
The evening congregation declined, and the need of more pastoral work
being done became increasingly visible.  Hence in October, 1872, at a
special meeting of the Church, the pastor expressed the feeling he had,
that under existing circumstances it would be most advantageous for the
spiritual interests of the people that the ground should be cleared for
an efficient successor, who could undertake the whole duty, and so render
the plan of assistanceship needless.  This communication, received in the
kindest manner, evoked the expression of a desire for a continuance of
the existing pastorate as long as possible.  Numerous consultations and
interchanges of opinion followed, all carried on in a most harmonious
manner; the sequel was, the pastor yielded to affectionate solicitations,
and for the present deferred his resignation.

In the month of December, 1872, an extraordinary service took place.  It
was occasioned by the death of Sir Donald F. Macleod, C.B., K.C., S.A.,
who had for some time attended divine worship in Allen Street and
communed with the Church at the Lord’s Table.  He died from a mysterious
accident at the Kensington High Street railway station, and this
circumstance, together with his distinguished character and rank,
attracted a crowded congregation when his funeral sermon was preached.  A
large number of officers and civilians connected with India, including
Lord Lawrence, were present, and the greatest respect was shown to his
memory.  The discourse was published by request, and as this sketch of
Kensington Church history is intended to include notices of eminent
members of the congregation, the following extracts are not
inappropriate:—

    “Having honourably and successfully occupied different posts of
    important service in India, he, in the year 1865, attained to the
    high position of Lieutenant-Governor of the Punjaub. . . .  Sir
    Donald had a rare gift for putting himself into kindly fellowship
    with those he ruled, whether rich or poor, entering into their
    feelings and cultivating their regards, and by degrees he acquired a
    widespread influence in what might be called the country of his
    adoption, and all loved him as a friend and father; and it has been
    said, if the natives in the Punjaub had had to choose a prince, it
    would have been Sir Donald; a still more striking remark, given in
    the notice of his life by a leading journal, was recently made by a
    native gentleman, to the effect that ‘If all Christians were like Sir
    Donald Macleod, there would be no Mahomedans or Hindoos.’ . . .  His
    calmness and self-possession during the fearful crisis of 1857 made
    him a safe counsellor when others were unnerved; besides which, on
    another occasion, during a terrible outbreak of cholera, he exerted
    himself in the care of sufferers, and in the burial of the dead,
    whilst others, panic-stricken, rushed away.

    “He had an extraordinary power of making friends, and few have had so
    large a circle of friendship.  ‘Wherever he went,’ remarks a
    relative, ‘his presence was like sunshine, and the sunshine was the
    reflection of another presence, even of Him of whom it is said, “In
    Thy presence is fulness of joy.’” . . .  His bright, cheerful
    appearance, commanding figure, and pleasant utterances won all
    hearts, especially those of the young, who were attracted by the
    magic of sympathy, a rare gift, which he did not fail rightly to
    employ.”

    “Into Thine hand I commit my spirit; Thou hast redeemed me, O Lord
    God of truth,” were amongst the last words he uttered, and they were
    selected as the text for his funeral sermon.

In the winter of 1872 the pastor felt it necessary to change his
residence, when the ladies of the congregation raised a purse, which,
with the addition of £100 from one friend, amounted to between £300 and
£400.  This bountiful gift, conveyed privately by one of the
contributors, touched his heart as may be supposed, and made him feel how
great was his people’s generosity, and how gracefully they exercised it.
The avoidance of publicity, and the delicate mode of conveying the
present, increased greatly his sense of obligation, and attached him to
so noble-minded a people more strongly than ever.  Their interest in the
future he resolved more than ever to consider.

The autumn of that year he visited America, being invited, with the Rev.
Joshua C. Harrison, “the friend of his life,” to attend the Evangelical
Conference at New York.  This was most refreshing, and in renewed health
and spirits he returned, in November, to his beloved people; the chapel
during his absence having been restored, painted, and decorated anew.

Harmony and love continued, but the want of additional assistance still
pressed on all sides.  The services of the Rev. S. Matthews, now pastor
at Southampton, were secured for one year, and he co-operated with the
senior minister very pleasantly; other help was also obtained, but at
length the inevitable hour arrived.  The Church received the following
communication from their pastor in November, 1874:—

    “MY BELOVED FLOCK,—

    “It is now two years since I made an important communication touching
    our relationship to one another.  I then stated, that upon a review
    of our affairs it struck me that there were subjects for mutual
    congratulation and for devout gratitude, particularly in the cheering
    aspect of the morning congregation and in your generous responses to
    benevolent appeals; but, at the same time, that there were other
    things of a different character which weighed upon my mind, such as
    the state of attendance on Sunday and week evenings, the need of more
    pastoral activity, to which growing years, personal habits, and
    increasing claims outside the Church tended to disqualify me,
    increasingly in proportion to the lapse of time.  What was needed I
    pointed out as consisting of an infusion of fresh and youthful blood,
    with a more comprehensive, steady, and systematic control of our
    Institutions: wants only to be supplied by a new, vigorous, faithful,
    and exemplary minister.

    “I then ventured to touch upon difficulties, ascertained through
    experience, in the way of obtaining either an assistant or a
    co-pastor who would secure the confidence, sympathy, and support of
    the Church at large.  Nor did I omit to notice a question long
    pressing on my mind, as to whether it was worth your while to incur
    increased pecuniary obligations for the sake of retaining services
    which, in the course of nature, could not be continued for many years
    longer.

    “My judgment, I said, pointed in the direction of retirement, and I
    urged upon you the consideration that, on the whole, it might be
    easier, wiser, and better, at once, or very soon, to seek a new
    pastor altogether, than to aim at mere assistance or even a full
    co-pastorate.  I also suggested that, perhaps, with my confirmed
    habits and tastes, I might serve the Divine Master more usefully in
    some other way, than by continuing to hold the office of a settled
    pastor.

    “I intimated distinctly what a sore trial it was to me to make such a
    communication; with what deep sorrow I should separate from a people
    whom I had watched and loved for so many years, not, I hope, without
    some considerable success; and that I was prompted in what I said,
    not by desires for personal gratification, or by love of ease, or a
    preference for literary pursuits, but _simply and entirely_ by a
    sense of duty and a _supreme desire_, to promote the welfare of the
    Church at Kensington.

    “My communication was very kindly considered by the deacons and
    yourselves, and at length I received a resolution affectionately
    entreating me to retain the pastorate without any stipulation as to
    time, and generously offering to provide an assistant.  I complied
    with your request, so far as to say that without pledging myself to a
    permanent retention of office, I would accept your liberal offer to
    provide assistance, and would for the present continue my labours
    amongst you.  A little more than a year afterwards, on my return from
    America, you invited for the term of twelve months my friend and
    brother, the Rev. S. G. Matthews, who has co-operated with me in the
    most harmonious and affectionate manner.

    “His term of service will presently expire, and now that two years
    have elapsed since I made my communication—a period which you will
    remember I then specified—the whole subject returns on my mind with
    increasing force.  Before I left home for the holidays, I stated as
    much to the deacons; and what I then thought and felt has been
    deepened by the effect of my recent great domestic sorrow, with
    respect to which many of you have expressed the tenderest sympathy.

    “The more I reflect on the matter, the more I am confirmed in my
    former judgment—that, looking at my time of life, and at growing
    infirmities, which though they may not affect my pulpit labours, do
    affect my pastoral influence, and moreover, looking at pecuniary and
    other questions,—an entire change in the pastoral administration of
    affairs at Kensington seems desirable for the Church and
    congregation.

    “Most reluctantly, with much pain, and at the cost of considerable
    self-sacrifice in more than one way, I reach the conclusion that our
    long and happy relationship must come to an end.  Therefore I beg now
    to place my resignation in your hands, and to propose, with the view
    of relieving you from prolonged suspense and uncertainty, that it
    should take effect at Lady-day next, when I shall make way for a
    successor who will, I trust, under God’s blessing, perpetuate and
    advance the work which it has been my honour to carry on more than
    thirty-one years.

    “I do not think I shall be charged with vanity if I add that I am
    persuaded this communication will give pain.  Attachment has been so
    often expressed, the affection of many has been so strongly and
    practically shown, that it would be unreasonable and ungrateful to
    suspect I did not still enjoy your confidence and love.  I am assured
    of both, and my hope is that though my pastoral relationship will
    cease, our mutual friendship will continue, and that in future days I
    may have opportunities of continued intercourse and occasional
    service.

    “The Church at Kensington will have a large and warm place in my
    heart as long as that heart beats in this world; and my prayer is,
    that in the world to come we may all enjoy life and fellowship
    everlasting.”

An anxious discussion followed the reading of this letter at a Church
meeting, held on the 12th of November, when the members recorded “the
deep regret with which they had received from their beloved pastor the
communication now presented by the deacons”; also their full appreciation
of “the motives and reasons which had led him to his decision”; the
“unabated attachment” which they still cherished towards him; and their
gratitude to God “for the peace which had prevailed in the Church,” and
the “many mercies vouchsafed” both to pastor and people.

A committee was formed to consider what further steps should be taken,
and the meeting came “with the utmost regret and reluctance to the
conclusion that the only course now open was to accept the resignation of
their beloved and honoured pastor.”  When the committee gave in their
report, some members lovingly made further efforts to retain their old
minister, but others equally loving saw that such efforts would be
unavailing.  At length all beautifully united in saying, “The will of the
Lord be done.”

It was then resolved “that this meeting considers advantage should be
taken of the opportunity afforded by the resignation of Dr. Stoughton,
for the members of the Church and congregation . . . as well as for
attached friends generally, to express their esteem for Dr. Stoughton,
and appreciation of his character and valuable services in the cause of
evangelical truth, by a substantial presentation to him.”

When the resignation had been sent in and accepted, a sermon was preached
reviewing the past, explaining the present, and anticipating the future:—

    “It is over forty years ago [said the preacher] that there lived in
    the town of Windsor a venerable man of God, who in early life had
    enjoyed only scanty educational advantages, but who, with strong
    common sense and industrious application to the study of Scripture
    and other reading, fitted himself, under God’s blessing, for the work
    of the ministry, and well fulfilled his course.  He lived as he
    preached.  He was a moral and spiritual power amongst his neighbours.
    From the king on the throne to the humblest inhabitant he was held in
    respect.  George III. would speak to some of his servants, who
    attended the ministry of this excellent person, in terms of gracious
    approval.  When years advanced and infirmities increased, he set his
    heart upon having a colleague, and after the congregation had
    listened to several students from Highbury College, they fixed on a
    stripling, who won the heart and warmly reciprocated the affection of
    the aged prophet.  As a son with a father, the young man served in
    the gospel for about seven happy years, rejoicing in the honour paid
    to the elder, in whose hoary hairs he gladly recognised a crown of
    glory, because the wearer walked in the ways of righteousness.  Many
    of you will recognise at once who was that aged saint, and I need
    hardly tell any here who was that inexperienced but attached young
    man.  After I came here it was long a cherished dream, that if I
    should live to be an old man, I might enter once more upon a
    co-pastorate.  The sunny memories I had and have of that relationship
    fostered corresponding hopes, and seven years ago I began to pray for
    and desire some one who might be associated with me in the ministry,
    and grow into your affection and confidence, and at length succeed me
    within these walls.  Many and many a time have I pondered the text of
    this morning, and imagined how I might preach from it when the
    wished-for coming man should be appointed.  I used to think of what
    would be fitting on such an occasion.  ‘He must increase, and I must
    decrease,’ I said over and over again to myself, and not without fear
    that poor human nature might, under the circumstances, prove
    troublesome and rebellious.  I endeavoured to prepare for the
    hoped-for crisis by meditations such as I have expressed in your
    hearing to-day.

    “But now I preach from the words without knowing who it is that the
    Master destines to occupy in future years the pulpit of this place.
    Who shall hereafter ‘increase’ I cannot tell.  I only know who must
    ‘decrease.’

    “I did not renounce the idea of a co-pastorate until I was convinced
    from experience and observation that such a co-pastorate as I desired
    was impracticable.  I remember often saying that I thought it must be
    an old man’s fault if he could not find, and work with, a fitting
    colleague.  Alas, the finding has proved an impossibility, though I
    still incline to my old opinion of the working of the arrangement,
    when an appropriate colleague can be found.  I am still persuaded
    that both for young ministers and for old ones the colligate plan is
    very desirable.  Age tempers youth.  Youth animates age.  The senior
    with refined experience, the junior with the flush and fervour of
    opening life, conjoined in pastoral work, must surely to all appear a
    beautiful ideal.  I was not brought to say, ‘What I shall _choose_ I
    wot not,’ but I have been compelled to forego the exercise of
    _choice_ in the matter, and to fall back on simple convictions of
    duty.  Perhaps there is something amiss in the working of our system
    in relation to colligate ministries.  Neither assistantships nor
    co-pastorates are in favour now-a-days, though in earlier
    Nonconformist societies they were.  One minister is expected and
    desired to do everything, and, in a sense not intended by Ignatius,
    his motto finds a practical currency amongst us—widely as we may be
    separated from him in notions of episcopal government—‘nothing
    without the bishop.’”

On the 4th of April, 1875, Dr. Stoughton preached his farewell sermon as
pastor at Kensington.  The text was 1 Thessalonians ii. 19, 20: “For what
is our hope, or joy, or crown of rejoicing?  Are not even ye in the
presence of our Lord Jesus Christ at His coming?  For ye are our glory
and joy.”  The sermon concluded with these words:—

    “Perhaps the strongest of all ministerial power is sympathy in
    sorrow.  It has been my lot to visit many in affliction, to sit by
    many sick beds, to witness the desolation of many a hearth, to grasp
    the widow’s hand, to kiss the orphan’s cheek.  If I have ever shed
    one drop of healing balm over a wounded heart, or cast one ray of
    light over a darkened dwelling, I thank God for it, as the fulfilment
    of a ministry in which angels might have been glad to share; and sure
    I am that the remembrance of it, and the prospect of spending
    eternity together with the sons and daughters of sorrow in that world
    where tears are wiped from off all faces, will form no small part of
    my joy and crown of rejoicing in the presence of the Lord Jesus
    Christ at His corning.

    “And now, in the words of Edward Irving, let me say, ‘Brethren, I
    thank you in fine for the patience with which you have heard me on
    this and all other occasions.  I have nothing to boast of, as St.
    Paul had when he parted with the Ephesian elders.  I can speak of
    your kindness and of the Almighty’s grace, but of my own performances
    I cannot speak.  Imperfections beset me round, which it is not my
    part to confess, save to the God of mercy.  All these imperfections I
    crave you to forget.  Fain would I continue to have a place in your
    esteem and love, as you have in mine; and besides this I have no
    favour to ask.  Your kind remembrance and prayer, that is all.

    “‘And now, God grant that while the roof-tree of this temple stands,
    and these walls resist the hand of all-consuming time, there may be
    no voice uttered from this pulpit but the voice of the Gospel of
    peace; that all who come up to worship here may be accepted of the
    Lord; and that we who have met so oft together, and joined the voice
    of our prayer and the notes of our praise together, may yet lift the
    voice of our prayer from beneath the altar of the living God, and
    minister our praise around His holy throne.  Amen.’

    “To each one I say, ‘the Lord bless thee, and keep thee: the Lord
    make His face to shine upon thee, and be gracious unto thee; the Lord
    lift up His countenance upon thee, and give thee peace.’”

On the following Thursday evening a crowded meeting took place in
Kensington Chapel, Samuel Morley, Esq., M.P., in the chair.  Amongst
those present were Sir Thomas Chambers, M.P.; Mr. Henry Richard, M.P.;
Sir Charles Reed; Dean Stanley; Canon Freemantle; the Rev. J. P. Gell,
Vicar of St. John’s, Notting Hill; the Rev. S. Minton; Dr. Morley
Punshon; Dr. Angus; Dr. Allon; Principal Newth; the Rev. J. C. Harrison;
the Rev. Baldwin Brown; and many other honoured brethren.

After addresses by the Rev. J. C. Harrison, the Rev. Samuel Bergne
(intimate personal friends of the retiring minister), the Dean of
Westminster, Sir Charles Reed, and the Rev. J. P. Gell, Incumbent of St.
John’s,—Mr. Robert Freeman, an active and honoured deacon of the Church
for many years, read an address in felicitous and graceful as well as
truly Christian language, and then placed in the retiring pastor’s hands
a purse containing £3,000.  The whole assembly rose, and afterwards Dr.
Stoughton spoke at considerable length, and in conclusion observed:—

    “As I leave you to-night, I think of Gregory Nazianzan, when he took
    leave, one by one, of various familiar objects in his beloved church
    at Constantinople.  I could speak to _that pulpit_ from which I have
    often addressed you, and that communion table round which we have
    gathered in remembrance of the risen Saviour.  I could pensively bid
    them, one by one, farewell, though I fully hope often to visit you
    again.  I cannot forget Sunday mornings, when I have seen loving
    smiles and looks responding to my utterances, and I trust felt the
    presence of the Master so as to get very near to heaven.  I shall
    carry these memories with me into the world of light and love.

    “One word as to my position in reference to my theological and
    ecclesiastical opinions.  There are different phases of Christian
    truth: the moral brought out by the Apostle James, the doctrinal by
    the Apostle Paul, the experimental by the Apostle Peter.  One apostle
    above others blended these peculiarities in himself, harmonizing them
    all, like prismatic rays in ‘candid light,’ to use Bishop Warburton’s
    expression—the ‘candid,’ pure, perfect light of Divine love.  I have
    striven to make him my model, to neglect no side of evangelical
    truth, but to go all round it; and if my poor teaching under such
    guidance has done any good, let God have all the praise.  As to my
    ecclesiastical position, I have never shrank from expressing my
    opinion with regard to the Establishment principle.  I am a thorough
    and earnest Nonconformist.  There are many reasons why I could not
    conform; and I will now only mention this, that I could not surrender
    my liberty to preach the gospel in the pulpits of other communions,
    and to invite brethren of other communions to preach in mine.  I have
    not seen it my vocation to join in certain movements of the day under
    the guidance of those whose practical application of Nonconformist
    principles in some respects differs from my own.  I am not finding
    fault with them, and I hope they will not find fault with me.  Let us
    agree to differ.  One great object of my life has been rather to
    improve our own denomination, than to criticise and censure others;
    and also to cultivate loving relationship with other Churches, and it
    is my peculiar joy that my life aim in this respect has been
    generously recognised and reciprocated.”

Speeches were then delivered by Dr. Punshon, Sir Thomas Chambers, Dr.
Angus, Mr. Richard (Dr. Stoughton’s fellow-student), the Rev. Guinness
Rogers, and Mr. Henry Wright,—a friend who had become deacon of the
Church during Dr. Stoughton’s ministry, and had been especially active in
connection with the testimonial.  Some playful allusions were made in the
course of the evening.  One was by the Dean, who said it was a custom
amongst the monks at Westminster to call a brother who had been amongst
them thirty years by the gentle name of _playfellow_, and never to do
anything disagreeable in his presence.  And such, he would say, was the
tranquil period which their friend had reached, yet not so as to quench
hope of his still using voice and pen for the good of others.  Another
was by Mr. Richard, who referred to a debate in college days, between him
and Dr. Stoughton, on the question, “Who was the greater man, Oliver
Cromwell or Napoleon Bonaparte?”  Dr. Stoughton took Cromwell, and he,
Mr. Richard, now the great political apostle of peace, then preferred
Napoleon.  He supposed his friend remained true to his idol, he himself
had changed his standard of idolism.  The Hon. and Rev. Canon Freemantle
pronounced the benediction.

The address, elegantly illuminated and cased in morocco and silver, was
afterwards transmitted to Ealing, and the names of contributors were read
with much interest and gratitude.  Amongst them were those of rich and
poor members of the communion, and of distinguished persons outside the
Kensington Church, including noblemen and dignitaries of the
Establishment.  Mention ought to be made of Archdeacon Sinclair, Vicar of
the parish.  He entered on that office about the time that Dr. Stoughton
came to Kensington.  The Vicar then called on him, to give a cordial
welcome, and they remained on terms of friendship down to the farewell
meeting.  The congregation some time before sent a contribution towards
building the new parish church, of about £100, through their pastor’s
hands to the Vicar, who expressed the greatest delight in accepting such
a pledge of Christian catholicity.  After the farewell meeting, he wrote
saying that he hoped soon to call upon his old friend in his new abode.
But he died within a few weeks of the meeting, and the first time Dr.
Stoughton occupied the pulpit at Allen Street Chapel after his
retirement, was to preach a funeral sermon for his beloved and honoured
neighbour.



VI.  THE SIXTH PASTORATE.
_THE REV. ALEXANDER RALEIGH_, _D.D._
1875–1880.


NO sooner had the vacancy occurred than the Church’s attention was
directed to the Rev. G. S. Barrett, of Norwich, who had eminent
qualifications for the Kensington pastorate.  He was invited to preach
before the end of April, and immediately after he had done so, steps were
taken for calling the Church together.  On the 13th of May a meeting
followed, when it was resolved to invite Mr. Barrett to succeed Dr.
Stoughton.  The invitation was conveyed in the form of unanimous and
cordial resolutions, to which Mr. Barrett replied before the end of the
month, saying that if he felt it would be right to leave Norwich,
Kensington would be an attractive sphere; but that after much
consideration and prayer it appeared to him a duty to remain where he
was.

The door being closed in that quarter, the deacons and the committee
appointed to assist them turned their thoughts to the Rev. Dr. Raleigh,
whom they were given to understand “might not be unwilling to remove from
his present pastorate at Canonbury to that of Kensington.”  The idea of
securing so eminent a man animated all who became acquainted with it; and
previously to laying this matter before the Church, the deacons and
committee communicated with Dr. Raleigh.  Delicacy and caution marked the
communications on both sides, and the result was, that on hearing a
report of the circumstances, the Church in August cordially invited Dr.
Raleigh to accept the pastorate.  Again the invitation was conveyed in
the form of resolutions, and before the end of the month Dr. Raleigh
returned his answer:—

    “The resolutions which were passed unanimously at your meeting of the
    5th of August, were presented to me on the following morning by your
    deacons, who also gave me in the frankest manner every explanation I
    could desire.

    “Those resolutions constitute a call to take the pastoral oversight
    of you in the Lord.  I have had this your desire and invitation very
    much in my thought since I received the intimation of them.  I have
    had consultation with good men, whose judgment in the case is
    dispassionate and impartial, and I need not say that I have been
    asking God to ‘send forth His light and truth’ to make my way of duty
    plain.  Nevertheless, I cannot say that the path of duty has been
    very easily found.  The circumstances have been peculiar.  The claims
    of the two congregations to whom it has for years been my privilege
    to minister have proved to be unexpectedly strong, and the mutual
    trial of affection in the thought of parting has been sometimes
    almost more than I could resist.  Yet steadily, if slowly, the
    guiding light of God’s good providence has seemed to lead westwards.
    The reasons which made it possible for me to entertain the proposal
    from the time when it was mentioned to me have continued, as I knew
    they would do, and now, without specifying them particularly, it is
    my duty to announce to you the result to which they have led me;
    which is this, that I cordially accept your cordial call, and will
    endeavour in Divine strength to discharge, to the best of my ability,
    the duties of the sacred office to which I am thus called.  May He
    who has watched over your interests as a Christian Church for many
    years, supplying you in successive pastorates with rich ministerial
    gift and grace, and who has also blessed my humble ministry thus far,
    make us blessings to each other, and in our associated capacity, to
    many around us.

    “I cordially appreciate the mention of the name of Dr. Stoughton,
    lately your pastor, and long my friend.  I do not lay claim to his
    many and high accomplishments as a scholar and a theologian; but I
    believe I agree with him pretty closely in doctrinal sentiment, in
    holding firmly ‘the faith once delivered to the saints,’ and in
    cherishing a generous and charitable temper towards all who love our
    Lord Jesus Christ in sincerity; and I must now make it my endeavour
    to emulate his practical care and zeal on your behalf in all
    faithfulness, diligence, watchfulness, and prayer.

    “If I were only beginning the Christian ministry, I might think it
    necessary and appropriate to say something of the motives with which
    I undertake it, and of the spirit in which it ought to be conducted.
    But having been now for many years in the heat of the great strife, I
    must allow those years of toil now past to speak for me concerning
    what will be (‘if the Lord will’) the aims and labours of the future.
    May the blessing which has never been withheld from my humble
    ministry, attend it still, and through your prayers and co-operation
    be even more abundant than heretofore.  The grace of the Lord Jesus
    Christ be with you.  Amen.”

A public recognition of the new pastor took place in Allen Street in the
month of November, when Dr. Stoughton presided, and Dr. Allon, Dr.
Punshon, Dr. Edmond, the Revs. J. C. Harrison, H. Simon, and W. Roberts,
took part in the service.

Dr. Stoughton congratulated the Church on having such a pastor as they
met to recognise, and the new pastor on having such a Church as was now
assembled.  He could testify that Dr. Raleigh would find at Kensington a
united and peaceful Church, a people bound together by mutual affection,
trained to work and accustomed to work, people who would never give their
pastor any occasion for uneasiness, who would always respond to his
appeal and co-operate with him in his work.

Mr. H. Wright laid a full statement before the congregation of
circumstances which led to the proceedings of that evening, after which
the chairman said, when the President of the Wesleyan Conference made way
for his successor, he did so by handing over the seals of office.  He had
nothing of that sort to offer now, but if Dr. Raleigh would accept his
predecessor’s hand, there it was, not empty, but with a heart in it.  Dr.
Raleigh delivered an appropriate address.  Dr. Punshon, Mr. Harrison, Dr.
Edmond, and Mr. Simon followed, expressing their affection for the new
pastor and his flock.

An election of new deacons had repeatedly occurred under the former
pastorate; and in the first year of the new administration vacancies had
to be filled up by ballot.  The choice of the members fell on Messrs.
Cozens-Hardy, Plater, Spicer, Fordham, White, and Watson,—the last being
son of the late senior deacon, whose death just before Dr. Stoughton’s
retirement was a heavy loss, deeply lamented by his old friend and by the
Church at large.  Messrs. Fordham, Cozens-Hardy, and George White
declined the office, from inability to give time for its duties.  The
rest accepted the Church’s request.  True to the sympathy and love so
often expressed, the friends at Kensington were mindful of the retired
minister when he lost his beloved wife, and the following entry occurs in
the Church Book:—

    “On Sunday morning, 23rd November, 1879, a solemn memorial service
    was conducted by the pastor, Rev. A. Raleigh, D.D., suggested by the
    death of Mrs. Stoughton, on the 11th of November, at Ealing.

    “The sermon was based on the passage (2 Cor. v. 9): ‘Willing rather
    to be absent from the body and to be present with the Lord,’ Dr.
    Stoughton and his family being among the worshippers.  The Church
    wish, moreover, to record their deep sympathy with Dr. Stoughton, in
    his sad bereavement, and cherish the memory of Mrs. Stoughton as one
    who, during her husband’s long pastorate of thirty-two years at
    Kensington Chapel, co-operated with him in all his work for the
    heavenly Master, and endeared herself to many as a bright example to
    the flock.”

I shall be pardoned for the insertion of a single paragraph from the
beautiful sermon delivered by Dr. Raleigh on that affecting occasion.  It
is no less true than beautiful:—

    “Fitted by education and culture for any place in social life, it
    might have been thought by some that she would be among the foremost
    always in visible activities and good works.  She was indeed always
    active, and was always engaged in doing good; but always as much as
    possible in silent and unseen ways.  She was not one who could say,
    in view of the many things that might be done by one in her position,
    of a more or less public kind, ‘therefore being always confident.’
    Rather she loved and sought the shade; if a sweet and calm and
    all-helpful domestic life may be called the shade, to a lady of deep
    piety and high culture.  She strove to make home good and happy, and
    succeeded; every child following father and mother in Divine ways,
    and into the Church of God; and then she strove to extend the
    blessedness to as many other homes as possible.  I know not that we
    could have a much nobler ideal and pattern of a woman’s life.  I have
    it on the best authority, that of a ministerial friend who was like a
    brother in the house, that many and many a poor minister’s home in
    the country was made warmer and brighter, and more what home ought to
    be, by her generous persistence of care for them, and by the gentle
    importunity of her letters to others on their behalf.  Her power of
    letter-writing was unique; all who were privileged to receive these
    letters, on any subject, but especially on Divine and spiritual
    subjects, felt the charm, and valued the more the friendship of one
    who could write so for God and for men.  Her last years were weighted
    with deepening affliction; yet were they calm and peaceful years to
    the last.  For months she waited on the border land, looking
    heavenwards, thinking often no doubt of the loved ones who had gone
    before, and who, as I have been told by one who well knows, often
    seemed very near to her.  The few who saw her felt that they had been
    nearer heaven by only looking on her face and listening to the few
    words she might say.  These words were words of thankfulness for all
    past mercies, of humble but firm faith in the Saviour, and of calm,
    confident hope as to the future.

    “These words were found afterwards in her own handwriting:

    ‘Father, take my hand; quickly and straight
          Lead to heaven’s gate Thy child.’

    ‘Quickly and straight,’ even as she desired, the gate was opened; and
    the Father’s child went in, went home.”

With regard to Dr. Raleigh’s ministry at Kensington, I cannot do better
than quote the following words of his beloved wife:—

    “There is little to record of the years at Kensington.  Like those of
    his first ministry at Rotherham, they flowed evenly and sweetly; but
    many hearts hold them as a sacred memory, and to himself they were
    years of much happiness.  He was able to work with vigour, and his
    people came around him with growing affection.  To none was his
    ministry more dear than to those engaged in direct Christian work.
    He clasped hands with them as fellow-workers; the fervour of his zeal
    kindled theirs, and as he spoke of the great harvest to come, earthly
    honours seemed to grow poor compared with the honour of bearing and
    sowing the precious seed of God.  ‘By kindness, by love unfeigned,’
    he won his way to the affections of his people.  And he gave them as
    he had promised, ‘good work,’ work which cost him laborious days, and
    to which he brought all the treasures of his long experience.  His
    sermons were less ornate, perhaps, than those of an earlier time, but
    they were more definite in aim, more unencumbered in utterance, as if
    knowing that his time was short, he had laid ‘aside every weight,’
    that the simple truth might have free course.  His teaching began to
    be regarded with quick appreciation, and some of his hearers, men in
    busy life, acknowledged that ‘the whole week was different and better
    because of the thoughts with which it was begun.’

    “‘These Sundays at Kensington,’ writes one of his people, ‘were times
    of refreshment from the presence of the Lord.  The sound of his
    fervid utterances of heavenly truth seem still to linger on the ear.
    We bless God that He sent him to us, and for all the messages of love
    He enabled him to declare, and for the glimpses of heaven he seemed
    to open to our sight.’

    “Throughout his teaching and in his own heart, the mystic attraction
    of heaven was always strong.  But especially was this a very
    pronounced feature of his latest ministry.  He hardly preached a
    sermon in which he did not lift up his eyes to the ‘everlasting
    hills.’

    “It is a blessed thing that sin has never effaced the deep
    home-longings of human hearts, and no words were more welcome than
    those in which he told of that world, ‘where prayer is answered, and
    toil is recompensed, and love claims her own.’  Or of ‘the open
    pathway, stretching upward and afar, for home-going saints and holy
    angels.’  Or of ‘the banquet’ where, ‘in its earthly beginning we may
    wet our bread with tears as we eat it, but whence we shall go to the
    higher and better, God has in reserve, as we pass along to meet all
    the good of every age, and to see Him in His glory at the banquet,
    and in the fellowship of heaven.’

    “He had himself got to the heavenward side of life.  He was as busy
    as he had ever been, entering fully into the work, thinking and
    planning about it, as if he were still young, and life all before
    him, and his interest in public and passing events continued
    unquenched.  Yet, and this is no fancy, a deep peace seemed to have
    come down upon him, with silent expectancy in it, as if he stood at
    the meeting-place of the two worlds and took both into his field of
    vision.  The depressions of former years were gone, and but that our
    ‘eyes were holden’ by a merciful blindness, we might have known that
    the Master’s coming was at hand.”

The population in South Kensington by this time had enormously increased.
The relics of rural life repeatedly noticed in this volume disappeared,
and the crowded neighbourhood called for spiritual provision.  At a
social meeting in January, 1879, a resolution was passed expressive of
gratitude for the goodness of God, and of a conviction that the time had
come for making a vigorous effort to extend to one of the newly-peopled
districts in the neighbourhood some of the privileges which the Church
had so long enjoyed; and a year afterwards, at a similar meeting, joy was
expressed that a good site had been found in West Kensington, together
with a determination to erect on it a chapel worthy of the neighbourhood.

It is sad to record what follows.  Dr. Raleigh removed to Kensington at
the close of the year 1875, early in 1880 he was laid aside.  On the 10th
of March he sent to his “Flock and Friends” this touching letter:—

    “I must try to write a line to tell you what a great grief it is to
    me that I am still prevented from meeting you ‘face to face.’  Pain
    and weariness have been my portion during these last weeks.  But God
    has upheld me by His great goodness, and enabled me to cast all my
    care upon Him, and to commit all my ways to Him.  Indeed, I may say I
    have but one serious care, the care that arises in my heart when I
    think of you and of your interests in the Gospel, which I can at
    present do little or nothing to promote.  I know you are being well
    instructed by other servants of the Master, and that the Chief
    Shepherd Himself never ceases to have you in His care.  Nor can I
    doubt that this unexpected and undesired illness of your pastor is
    among the ‘all things’ which may work together for your good.  With
    prayer and patience on your part and on mine it will certainly be so,
    and our God will supply all our need according to His glorious riches
    by Christ Jesus.

    “I am assured by the deacons, both for themselves and for you, that I
    may go on in the use of the best means for recovery with a quiet
    mind, and in the confidence that you will willingly and prayerfully
    wait for my restoration to strength, and for what—if God graciously
    gives it—will certainly be to me, even more than to you, a happy
    return to my work.  Of course all waiting of this kind must have
    reasonable limits; but I think you may be assured that I am not
    likely to forget them.  I thank God that I have so much reason to
    wish, I hope before very long, to be able to put my hand again to a
    work which, in some ways at least, has prospered so well.  That this
    our mutual desire may be accomplished, I cast myself with confidence
    on your sympathy; and still more earnestly I make appeal to you for
    your prayers, that I may be kept in unfailing trust, and that I may
    be restored to you the sooner.

    “And for you, dear brethren, with all my heart I commend you to God
    and to the word of His grace, which is able to build you up and to
    give you an inheritance among all them that are sanctified.  The
    Shepherd of Israel have you in His care.

    “The grace of our Lord Jesus Christ be with you.”

Dr. Raleigh’s last hours are thus described by his wife in her beautiful
memoirs of him:—

    “Throughout the night of 17th April he was very restless, and said,
    ‘I have not been able for two days to think any religious thoughts,
    but I know that I am His.’  When the morning came (Sunday) his
    countenance wore the changed look we learn to know too well, and he
    spoke of his departure as at hand, as indeed he felt it was.  His
    wife, wishing as usual to send a message to be read to his people,
    asked him what it should be.  He hesitated, saying, ‘I do not want to
    alarm them, and it looks as if I were of such importance if I send a
    message.’  He consented, however, and dictated a few words.  Many
    things were talked over, and last words spoken during the day.  The
    wrench of parting was still hard to him, and the spring sunshine
    seemed too glad for dying eyes.  ‘Everything is as bright as if I
    were well,’ he said; but looked an earnest assent when reminded that
    in this lay the hidden promise of a better spring-time.  Some food
    being brought him, of which he tried in vain to partake, he put it
    gently aside, saying, ‘The Bread of Life is near.’  Again: ‘I should
    like to go to-day; it is _my_ day.’  His whispered words to his
    children; his expressed thoughts and cares about their future; his
    last looks of love and welcome, are laid up in the sacred silence of
    the heart ‘till the day dawn.’

    “As the evening drew on he became restless with the restlessness so
    common at the approach of death.  The weary spirit, finding home no
    longer in the dissolving body, was struggling to break the chain and
    enter into the life of liberty.  The eyes, always so responsive to
    the light, grew dim, unconsciousness fell gradually over him, and
    before we knew it he was away beyond reach of loving word or touch of
    ours; but we believe he was not beyond the reach of higher
    ministries.  As the long night passed, and the slow dawn found him
    still waiting at the gate, perhaps there came to his spirit the first
    whispers of heavenly fellowship.  Perhaps ‘Jesus Himself drew near
    and went with him.’  Shortly after noon on Monday, 19th of April,
    1880, he entered calmly into rest.”

It was the first time that Death had laid his hand on any of the
Kensington pastors until after their removal from the neighbourhood, and
the new visitation was keenly felt.  This was testified in many ways,
especially by the public funeral on the 24th of April, 1880.  A service
was held in the chapel, attended by a large concourse of ministerial and
other friends.  The Rev. J. G. Rogers delivered a funeral oration,
dwelling upon the character of his deceased friend and fellow-student.
The procession afterwards wound its solemn way to Abney Park.  “When the
_cortége_ approached, all were hushed to silence and many an eye was wet
with tears.  The line of spectators stretched from the Church Street
entrance gates, past the open grave, and overlapping but not surrounding
it.  Hardly a sound was heard but the grating of the footsteps of the
bearers of the coffin and the procession on the gravel.  Preceded by the
Rev. Henry Allon, D.D.; the Rev. J. Guinness Rogers; the Rev. Mr. Glyn,
Vicar of Kensington; and the Rev. W. M. Statham; and followed by all Dr.
Raleigh’s children (except the eldest) and other members of his family,
and various friends and delegates, the coffin, literally covered and
re-covered with flowers, was borne to the tomb.  Then Dr. Allon conducted
the solemn service, in which the Rev. Mr. Glyn took part; after which all
who desired had an opportunity of taking a last look at the grave, and
many deposited there their offering of flowers—their symbol of affection.
Presently the earth would be covered in, and all would be over.”

Funeral sermons were preached at Kensington Chapel on the following
Sunday by Dr. Allon and Mr. Rogers.

                                * * * * *

To resume the mode of expression adopted in the earlier portion of this
volume, and only dropped in describing the pastorate preceding that of
Dr. Raleigh, I shall ever deeply regret that, through absence from
England, I was unable to take any part in these solemnities.  I was not
aware of his serious illness until the fact was communicated to me in
Rome, and scarcely had I received the sad intimation when the news of his
death arrived; and I was shocked to find that the dear Kensington Church
was again destitute, and that I had lost an honoured friend.



VII.  THE SEVENTH PASTORATE.
_THE REV. COLMER B. SYMES_.
1880—


THE interregnum between Mr. Clayton’s removal and Dr. Leifchild’s arrival
extended beyond two years and a half; but breaks in the after history of
the pastorate were remarkably short.  Two months only elapsed between Dr.
Leifchild’s retirement and the commencement of Dr. Vaughan’s labours.
Dr. Vaughan terminated his Kensington ministry in May, I accepted a call
from the Church in July; Dr. Raleigh’s removal to Kensington was about
six months after his predecessor left; Dr. Raleigh died in April, his
successor was elected at the beginning of November.  The comparative
brevity of these intervals, when placed beside the history of many other
Congregational Churches, is remarkable, and inspires special thankfulness
in a community in this respect so highly favoured.  At no period has
there been divided feeling amongst the members with regard to a new
minister.  Rival candidates are unknown at Kensington, and proceedings
relative to filling up vacancies have ever been conducted in a spirit of
entire harmony and love.

The Rev. Colmer B. Symes, of Exeter, having been strongly recommended as
likely to meet the needs of the Church, a meeting was held on the 4th of
November, 1880, to decide whether he should be invited as Dr. Raleigh’s
successor.  The course adopted was the same as on the last occasion.  The
Church passed a resolution, unanimous and cordial, that Mr. Symes should
be requested to accept the pastorship; then the deacons were to convey
that resolution, and to urge “the acceptance of the important office to
which he had been elected.”  The deacons visited Mr. Symes at Exeter, and
discharged fully the duty intrusted to them by their fellow members.

The gratifying result appears in Mr. Symes’ reply on the 13th of
November, 1880:—

    “DEAR CHRISTIAN BRETHREN,—

    “In replying to your kind invitation to assume the pastorate among
    you, I have at the outset to thank you for the undeserved honour
    which you have done me, and to recognise the increased value of your
    invitation through the thoughtful delicacy of your deacons, who came
    to Exeter that they might present it personally to me.

    “It is needless to dwell on the anxiety which your action has caused,
    or upon the painful sense of responsibility under which I have
    approached the decision of my own course.  You will fully understand
    that the step which you have asked me to take involves the very
    gravest results, both to you and to my beloved congregation at
    Exeter.  Such a step is a crisis in a man’s life; and the
    consideration of it penetrates one through and through with the
    conviction, ‘It is not in man that walketh to direct his steps.’  To
    say then that I have thought much and prayed earnestly over this
    question, is only to assure you that I have done what, under such
    circumstances, any Christian man of honest purpose _must_ do.

    “As the result of such thought and prayer, of a simple surrender of
    my movements to the guidance of a higher wisdom than my own, and of
    earnest effort to interpret that guidance, I now accept your
    invitation to the pastorate as cordially as you have given it; and
    while utterly unconscious of any fitness, mentally or spiritually, to
    achieve a true success, I am confident that God has called me to work
    at Kensington, and for that work ‘my sufficiency is of God.’

    “When your deacons showed me that, although I had felt obliged to
    present passive resistance to your previous kind advances, God had
    led you to an unanimous decision, I felt that my duty was written in
    letters of light, and I could have given an immediate reply.  That
    reply has been delayed a week, partly to correct or confirm what
    might have been a hasty judgment, and partly that I might rise to the
    level of that Apostolic charge, in which we pastors are urged to take
    the oversight of the flock of God, ‘not _by constraint_, but
    willingly.’  A week ago I was conscious of Divine coercion, the
    compulsion of duty.  I did not like to pass before you as a captive
    dragged in triumph behind the chariot of a Divine regal purpose.  I
    would rather come before you as the willing herald to announce the
    presence of the King amongst you, and to describe to you the joys of
    His royal rule.

    “You will not, I am sure, be pained at this allusion to past
    unwillingness.  I should be unworthy of the love I hope to win from
    you, if I could callously cut those living nerves of loving
    friendship which, during the past four years, have thrilled again and
    again at the touch of as tender a sympathy as a pastor could wish to
    enjoy.  I am asked to leave an earnest, warm-hearted, united, and
    useful congregation, who have laid me under the deepest indebtedness
    by their sensitiveness to my ministry, by their love in my deep
    sorrow, by their unbroken harmony, and by their zealous fellowship
    with me in all service to Christ.  I have never received one harsh
    word or one cold look from them; and I should be less than human if I
    could part with such people painlessly.  Still I do feel very
    distinctly that the unanimity of your judgment in offering to me the
    splendid opportunities of service to Christ, which your neighbourhood
    presents—confirmed as that judgment has been by impartial advisers on
    all hands, to whom both you and I have appealed for counsel—may be
    accepted as the tones of a Divine call; and with _gladness_ and
    _thankfulness_ for the honour of service to Christ among you, I
    accept the pastorate.

    “When first asked to preach to you in my holidays, I quite understood
    the full significance of the visit; but as your request had come to
    me when at leisure, and had come so unsought, I felt that I dared not
    refuse to take the step which God seemed to indicate; and therefore I
    preached to you in August.  Since then I have felt that I must
    maintain a very passive attitude; and, at every subsequent stage, I
    have earnestly prayed that God would allow your action to express His
    will to me.  I pledged myself to Him that I would say or do nothing
    myself, and that I would accept your perseverance or your
    discontinuance as the revelation of His will for my life.  I am
    therefore bound in simple truthfulness to act on your decision, and
    to feel at rest on the score of Divine guidance.

    “It is, however, a great comfort to me that the judgment of all whom
    I have consulted outside my own congregation concur in your decision
    and in the response which I have given.  May God so generously help
    me in my ministry, and in His great condescension use me to impart
    unto you such spiritual gifts that you and I shall rejoice together
    in the union which we now form; and to Him from whom alone all the
    grace must come will we give all the praise.

    “As to the future, the less I say the better.  It is, perhaps, wise
    that a man should _do_ as much as he can, and _talk_ as little as may
    be of what he intends to do.  I might paint you a picture of what I
    mean my ministry to be; but you would see at once that the picture
    was painted with the trembling brush of a human purpose, and that it
    was scarcely worth your while to examine it.  I would rather leave
    the light of God to photograph the actual ministry as it shall be
    worked out from day to day; and may the picture satisfy your
    spiritual perceptions, and, above all, be acceptable to God.

    “While, however, it is wise to be silent about all my expectations of
    service among you, I will tell you what is clear to me, and is
    invested with no uncertainty.  I am coming to preach to you the love
    and the power of a living Christ, who has expiated the guilt of our
    sins by His wondrous death; who mediates for us to-day before the
    throne; who now ministers to us through the Spirit with wisest
    teachings and gentlest comforts and holiest inspirations; that living
    Christ who is the Alpha and the Omega of all that is noblest and
    truest in human life, and who will help us to fulfil our purer
    purposes until He presents us guiltless and without fault before His
    Father’s throne.  This will be the burden of my ministry; and may
    that Spirit of God, without whom the most truthful, earnest, and
    sincere ministry will be powerless, enable you and dispose you to
    receive this Gospel from me as the Word of God.

                       “I am, dear Christian brethren,

                                                   “Yours in Christ Jesus,
                                                        “COLMER B. SYMES.”

A recognition service was held at Kensington Chapel, when I was again
invited to preside; and amongst the ministers and friends present were
the Rev. Dr. Allon, the Rev. Dr. Hannay, the Revs. J. C. Harrison, Newman
Hall, C. E. B. Reed, J. H. Russell, A. Mearns, W. Roberts, Messrs. H.
Wright, W. Holborn, and R. Freeman.

It had rarely, if ever, fallen to the lot of a minister after his
retirement from a Church to preside on two occasions at the introduction
of a new minister.  I little thought that I should have to discharge such
duty as devolved on me that evening.  It seemed, I said, but the other
day since they assembled to welcome Dr. Raleigh, and though so long a
term of service as had been allowed to his predecessor could not have
been expected, it might have been hoped that the former would have
survived the latter.  “I feel how great your loss has been, and deeply do
I sympathize with you in this respect; and I am anxious to say so now,
because on account of my being in Italy at the time of Dr. Raleigh’s
interment, I had not an opportunity of then tendering in public my
sincere condolence.  But whilst I mourn over what you have lost, I would
rejoice on account of what you gain this evening.  I have not yet had the
pleasure of an intimate acquaintance with Mr. Symes.  I believe I never
met him but once, and then he made, during a short space, a much more
favourable impression on my mind than I have sometimes received from far
longer interviews with other brethren.  My heart is filled with gratitude
to God for having sent you such a man in the room of him who could not
continue by reason of death.”

On this occasion, much additional interest was imparted by the presence
of an Exeter deacon, who came to testify the love of the Exeter Church
for the pastor who had left them.  “God,” he said, “has blessed him very
much.  We have about three hundred and fifty members, and during Mr.
Symes’ short pastorate of five or six years, about two hundred have
joined our Church.”  “The young especially have rallied round him; and we
could point to many institutions showing where his usefulness has been so
marked.”  “His removal has been a county loss, and will be felt at chapel
openings and harvest homes.”

The new pastor followed, saying, amongst other things:—

    “I come to preach Christ to this congregation—the living Christ, who
    by His sacrifice has expiated our guilt upon the cross, and is able
    to free us from the guilt and from the power of sin; the Christ who
    is living and acting to-day as our Mediator, and is securing for us
    all spiritual blessings; the Christ who is the Lord of our life,
    whose will and leadership we, His people, are bound by the most
    solemn commands to obey; the Christ whose friendship is the joy of
    life, whose teaching settles all the creeds, and who in some
    mysterious sense includes within Himself all His believing people in
    His renewed life, and vitalizes all as the vine can vitalize its
    branches.  In preaching such a Christ as this, there need be no
    narrowness in the ministry: it will be my own fault if there is.
    Christ touches human life at all points.  To preach Christ fully is
    to raise the most profound intellectual problems, for Christ has
    localized the thoughts of men in every race.  To preach Him fully, is
    to assert His claims, and to press those claims upon every sphere of
    human life, the personal and the political, the domestic and the
    congregational, the mercantile and the mirthful, the social and the
    sacred.  Christ touches human life on all sides, and it is mine to
    preach Christ fully, and not to furnish a narrow ministry.  I come
    then, dear brethren, to preach to you the Christ whose love is more
    than life to me; who has soothed me when, with broken heart, I have
    felt life unbearable; who has sustained me in ministerial work and
    trial extending over many years; who has stood by me in every effort
    which I have made, and who has most generously succoured me in my
    weakness and raised me when I have fallen.”

Confessions of faith on such an occasion are not so common now as once
they were; but this admirable summary of truth was volunteered and
delivered in a spirit which left nothing more to be desired; and what may
not be hoped from a ministry commenced with such evangelical views and
such hallowed resolutions?

In the second year of Mr. Symes’ ministry the foundation stone of the
West Kensington Congregational Chapel was laid.  On the 2nd of November,
1882, a large number of friends assembled to witness the ceremony
performed by the venerable and catholic-spirited Earl of Shaftesbury.
Mr. Wright gave a statement of the circumstances which had led to the
gratifying event of the day.  He said that,—

    “In January, 1880, at a meeting held at the house of Mr. Edward
    Spicer, and attended by the late Dr. Raleigh, the deacons of the
    Church, and other ministers and laymen, it was resolved that a site
    should be secured for the erection of a Congregational Church, and a
    fund was started to which Dr. Raleigh subscribed £50, and six other
    gentlemen present £250 each; £250 was also promised by an absent
    deacon.  After protracted inquiries and negotiations the present site
    was purchased.  The London Congregational Union had voted £1,600
    towards its cost, and the London Chapel Building Society £1,000
    towards the erection of the church.  The progress of the work was
    arrested by the lamented decease of Dr. Raleigh, but when the Rev. C.
    B. Symes entered on his ministry he gave new impetus to it, and
    liberally subscribed £250 toward the fund.  The building to be
    erected was from the design of Mr. J. Cubitt, and the work had
    received the approval of many friends not connected with the
    district, two of whom had subscribed £500 each, and another noble
    citizen of London £200.  The gifts by individuals ranged from £1,000
    to five farthings from a little boy not quite eight years old!  In
    that work they were trying to solve the problem how to penetrate the
    population with the spirit of true religion, and the building would
    be dedicated to the service and worship of Almighty God and His
    blessed Son, with the prayer that the Lord Jesus Christ might be the
    master of the house, the King of the people, and the Shepherd of the
    flock which might be gathered there.  It would be a Free Church,
    independent of all external support and control; the worship would be
    free and spiritual, and the ordinances would be sustained by the
    free-will offerings of God’s people.  It was not undertaken in
    hostility to any existing church in the neighbourhood, and there was
    nothing to hinder its promoters saying, ‘Grace be with all them that
    love the Lord Jesus Christ in sincerity.’”

In the evening of the same day a meeting was held at the Vestry Hall,
Kensington, when Mr. John Kemp Welch presided, and Messrs. James Spicer,
J.P., H. Wright, J.P., Dr. Hannay, the Rev. C. B. Symes, Mr. J. H.
Fordham, Mr. Robert Freeman, Mr. William Holborn, and Messrs. H. and E.
Spicer supported the chairman.  The sum of £14,190 was required, and
before the close of the meeting no less than £12,084 was subscribed or
promised.  The following appeared in the report:—

    “Dr. Stoughton said he would like to tell those present a little of
    what had been done in days gone by, when a considerable movement
    began in 1849, resulting in the erection of five new chapels in the
    space of ten years.  They were not all connected with Allen Street
    Church, but they all sprang out of the operation of the voluntary
    principle, and the Kensington people had something to do with all of
    them.  It began with the erection of Horbury Chapel, Notting Hill;
    and was followed by Kensington Chapel; Oakland’s Chapel, Shepherd’s
    Bush; Edith Grove, Brompton; and Cravenhill chapels.  Those chapels
    could not have cost less than thirty or forty thousand pounds, and
    the liabilities were all undertaken during those ten years.  If they
    added another ten years for paying off those debts, they would see
    that £30,000 or £40,000 was expended in chapel building work during
    that period.  The fathers were not quite asleep, and the sons had
    very grateful recollections of what they did in days that were past.
    He referred to it as an example for them to emulate, and to go on
    during the next ten or twenty years as their predecessors did.  If
    they laid out £30,000 or £40,000 outside their church, it would be a
    noble thing.  The debt on Allen Street was paid off five years after
    it was opened, and he was then very anxious to see a new chapel
    spring up in South or West Kensington, where there was much vacant
    land which he knew would in time be covered with houses.  A variety
    of circumstances, however, prevented his realising that desire; but
    now that streets and squares had been built, and the name changed
    from North End to West Kensington, they had done nobly and wisely in
    setting to work to build the contemplated edifice.  He heartily
    congratulated them upon their present position, and on the
    relationship existing between pastor and people.  Mr. Symes was doing
    work which had not previously been done, and was laying hold of young
    people brought into the neighbourhood; the speaker looked most
    hopefully upon these circumstances and trusted that the Church in
    Allen Street would go on as prosperously as ever.”

Here I must bring my narrative to a close.  The ninety years’ history now
recorded exhibits the continuity, the development, the increase, the
augmented resources, and the advancing power of the Kensington
Congregational Church.  Religious progress has followed, though not with
equal steps, progress in other respects, visible throughout the Court
suburb, and its vicinity.  The _duplication_ of the ecclesiastical body,
if so the movement at Horbury about thirty years ago may be termed, is
now, thanks to our Heavenly Father, being repeated; but gratitude to Him
for this renewed inspiration of zeal is mingled with regret that the
effort has been so long delayed.  May it now be carried forward with
ardour, in the spirit of faith, love, and prayer, and may other similar
operations follow in years to come,—the activity and self-sacrifice of
Kensington Christians keeping pace with the wants of the neighbourhood!
The results at Notting Hill ought to be combined with those at
Kensington, in order to estimate the value of what was done more than
thirty years ago.  The congregations, the members, the contributions
since, should be reckoned together in a sum total; and a proportionate
increase continued through coming days will secure an aggregate most
blessed to contemplate, illustrating the true law of progress in
Congregationalism.  It will be God’s building, God’s husbandry, a working
together with Him and under Him: ministers and people being one with the
Church’s Lord.  What purity of communion, what brotherly love, what
self-sacrificing zeal, what achievements of benevolence, what noble
family lives, what numerous conversions to Christ may be anticipated in
consequence of aims and endeavours such as are now suggested!  If the
Church be a Divine garden, growth, fruitfulness, beauty ought to be
expected.  Rich abundance will crown a field which the Lord hath blessed.
The most prosperous Churches in Christendom only exhibit what may be
called, in the highest sense, a _natural_ result of His superintendence
and blessing.  What spiritual wonders may be looked for, what earnest,
humble work should be attempted, what encouragement under heavy
responsibility, what comfort amidst trials and disappointments will
assuredly come in the garden of our toils, our hopes, our
joys,—“supposing Him to be the Gardener!” {127}

                                * * * * *

                                * * * * *

     Butler & Tanner, The Selwood Printing Works, Frome, and London.



FOOTNOTES


{9a}  “Historical Recollections of Hyde Park,” by Thomas Smith, p. 39.

{9b}  “Environs of London,” iii. p. 196.

{11}  Hervey’s “Memoirs,” ii. p. 189.

{12}  Faulkner’s “History of Kensington,” p. 317.

{13a}  Faulkner’s “History of Kensington,” p. 170.

{13b}  Mr. Leifchild, in the “Life” of his father, says that Saunders
contributed _thirty pounds annually_.  No mention of this appears in the
records of the Church.

{17}  In Faulkner’s “History of Kensington,” p. 318, it is said that “the
first minister who officiated at Hornton Street Chapel was the Rev. Mr.
Hall, of Edinburgh, who was not, however, ordained over the
congregation.”  No notice is taken of this in the original records of the
Church, which are imperfect.

{23a}  Isaiah li. 9.

{23b}  Nichols’ “Anecdotes,” ix. p. 681.

{24a}  “History of the London Missionary Society,” by W. Ellis, i. p. 8.

{24b}  _Ibid._, p. 15.

{25}  Faulkner’s “History of Kensington,” p. 318.

{28}  Church Book. 27

{29}  “The Clayton Family,” by Dr. Aveling, p. 180.

{37}  “Memoir of John Leifchild, D.D.,” by his son, p. 41.

{38a}  “Memoir,” p. 40.

{38b}  “Remarkable Facts,” by Dr. Leifchild, p. 271.

{40}  Church Book.

{47}  Leifchild’s “Remarkable Facts,” p. 124.

{49}  “Memoir,” p. 47.

{51}  “Memoir,” p. 85.

{52}  “Memoir,” p. 80.

{54}  “Church Book.”

{55}  He died in 1862, aged 83.  He did not receive the diploma of D.D.
until after he left Kensington.

{61}  Faulkner’s “History of Kensington,” p. 319.

{68}  They were no other than the Rev. John Clayton and Dr. Redford, son
of my senior colleague.

{73}  James Brunlees, Esq., F.R.S.E.

{77}  These details, though they may now seem superfluous, may in years
to come be found important and useful.

{81}  After references to several discussions on the subject, the Church
record at Horbury states:—“It was not, however, until 1847 that any
combined effort to carry out the object was made; but on the 20th of
October in that year, five friends connected with the Church at Hornton
Street (_i.e._ the Rev. John Stoughton, the pastor, Messrs. Walker,
Robert Watson, and Robinson, three of the deacons, and Mr. Shepheard,
also a member of the Church) met, and forming themselves into a
committee, resolved, ‘That it was desirable an Independent Chapel should
be built in the neighbourhood of Notting Hill.’  Two of their number were
deputed to look out for ground; and, after much difficulty and delay in
selecting a suitable site for the building, the present very eligible
piece of ground was secured at a price of £630, on lease for eighty-eight
years, at a peppercorn rent.”  The freehold was subsequently purchased.
“The name of Horbury Chapel was given to the building as a mark of
respect to the treasurer, Mr. Walker, who, by his liberality and
exertions, so largely contributed to the success of the undertaking, the
village of Horbury, in Yorkshire, being his birthplace.”  The small
committee formed in October, 1847, was soon enlarged by the addition of
several other members of the Kensington Church.  The Rev. W. Roberts was
publicly recognised on the 17th of April, 1850, when the Rev. Dr.
Morison, the Revs. J. Stratton, J. H. Godwin, and J. Stoughton took part
in the service.

{88}  They were joined afterwards by Mr. Thomas Wilson.

{127}  See a striking sermon on these words by the Rev. C. H. Spurgeon,
in the _Tabernacle Pulpit_, for January, 1883.





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