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Title: A Century of Christian Service - Kensington Congregational Church, 1793-1893
Author: Horne, C. Silvester
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.

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Transcribed from the 1893 Hodder and Stoughton edition by David Price,
email ccx074@pglaf.org

                          [Picture: Book cover]

    “_Great men have been among us_; _hands that penned_,
    _And tongues that uttered wisdom_.”

        [Picture: Kensington Chapel.  From Photo. by Mr. S. Davie]



                                A CENTURY
                                    OF
                            CHRISTIAN SERVICE


                    _KENSINGTON CONGREGATIONAL CHURCH_
                                1793–1893

                                * * * * *

                                    BY
                         C. SILVESTER HORNE, M.A.
                      MINISTER OF KENSINGTON CHAPEL

                                * * * * *

                      _WITH FOURTEEN ILLUSTRATIONS_

                                * * * * *

                                  London
                           HODDER AND STOUGHTON
                            27 PATERNOSTER ROW

                                * * * * *

                                MDCCCXCIII

                                * * * * *

                                * * * * *

_Hazell_, _Watson_, _& Viney_, _Ld._, _Printers_, _London and Aylesbury_.



PREFACE


IN placing this volume in the hands of his congregation, as a memorial of
the centenary of Kensington Chapel, the writer has one or two words to
say to them.  They will easily see that there is here no attempt to
supersede Dr. Stoughton’s excellent and well-known history of our Church,
entitled “Congregationalism in the Court Suburb.”  For all detail of our
work, as well as for most delightful reminiscences of the ministers who
laboured here, they are referred to Dr. Stoughton’s book.  The
letterpress of this little book is an introduction to the pictures it
contains, and it is an attempt to trace the rise and progress of the
_Church_, rather than to dwell on the interesting features of individual
ministries.  This has, as the writer feels, limited the interest of the
book somewhat; but he relies largely on the illustrations to commend it
to those who have some sympathy with the Church whose doings it briefly
chronicles.  He has only to add that his best thanks are due to Mr.
Sidney Davie, who has given him valued assistance in the reproduction of
the photographs; and to Mr. Edward Spicer for very much co-operation in
bringing out this memorial volume.  But especially is he indebted to the
“member of the congregation,” whose name he may not mention, who so
kindly wrote the notice of the three and a half years of the present
ministry.

KENSINGTON, _April_, 1893.



CONTENTS

                                                                  PAGE
PREFACE                                                              7
      I.  FORMING THE CHURCH                                        11
     II.  CONSOLIDATION: THE FIRST MINISTRY                         29
    III.  A BRIEF MINISTRY.—REV. JOHN CLAYTON                       43
     IV.  SIXTEEN YEARS OF SPIRITUAL PROGRESS.—REV. JOHN            53
          LEIFCHILD
      V.  PROSPERITY UNDER DR. VAUGHAN                              67
     VI.  ENLARGING OUR BORDERS.—REV. DR. STOUGHTON                 81
    VII.  A GRACIOUS MINISTRY.—DR. RALEIGH                         101
   VIII.  PLANTING A NEW CHURCH.—REV. C. B. SYMES                  115
     IX.  A NOTABLE INTERVAL.—REV. EDWARD WHITE                    131
      X.  “TO BE CONTINUED.”—MR. HORNE                             143
     XI.  EPILOGUE                                                 153



LIST OF ILLUSTRATIONS

KENSINGTON CHAPEL                         _Frontispiece_
                                                    PAGE
HORNTON STREET CHAPEL                                 14
THE FIRST COMMUNION CUPS                              39
PORTRAIT OF REV. JOHN CLAYTON                         46
PORTRAIT OF REV. DR. JOHN LEIFCHILD                   56
PORTRAIT OF REV. DR. ROBERT VAUGHAN                   70
PORTRAIT OF REV. DR. JOHN STOUGHTON                   84
HORBURY CHAPEL, NOTTING HILL                          93
PORTRAIT OF REV. DR. ALEXANDER RALEIGH               104
PORTRAIT OF REV. COLMER B. SYMES                     118
WEST KENSINGTON CONGREGATIONAL CHURCH                125
PORTRAIT OF REV. EDWARD WHITE                        134
PORTRAIT OF REV. C. SILVESTER HORNE                  146
KENSINGTON CHAPEL (INTERIOR)                         154



I—FORMING THE CHURCH


      [Picture: Hornton Street Chapel.  From Photo. by Mr. S. Davie]

THERE is but little of the romance of history associated with the story
of the Nonconformity of the last hundred years.  The Free Churches that
arose in England a century ago began with all the advantages of
toleration.  Their members were not objects of persecution, and the
chapels that formed their local habitations had no longer to be built in
obscure courts that testified to the unpopularity, and possibly the
irregularity, of their existence.  Churches that have such an inheritance
as ours lose, no doubt, much of the stimulus which those enjoy that have
great traditions of heroism and fidelity through stern seasons of
suffering for conscience’ sake.  In the absence of such stirring pages
from our history, we may well be thankful that so much remains which we
may regard with especial gratitude to God, in the consistently true and
honourable service rendered to the cause of Christ through four
generations by the ministers and members of our Church.  The story of
Kensington Chapel for the hundred years of its history has been that of a
succession of able and devoted ministers, supported by a Church of
consecrated men and women, who have not unworthily represented the best
traditions of the Nonconformity of the last century.  Neither has the
atmosphere of the Court suburb injuriously affected the definite and
resolute Dissenting attitude of the community.  The first document issued
by the founders of the Church contained an explicit avowal that they were
“Dissenters from the established mode of worship in this country”; and
any subsequent movement of thought has only been toward a clearer
apprehension of those great positive beliefs which form the permanent
_raison d’être_ of a Congregational Church.  Mr. Faulkner, whose history
of old Kensington is full of interesting information, is a good Church
and State man, and quite above suspicion as to the orthodoxy of his
opinions; but he bears testimony to the Independents that we are “a sect,
the most respectable, and usually considered the most enlightened among
Protestant Dissenters.”  Probably this was not committing himself to much
in Mr. Faulkner’s opinion: and possibly some may be found who think that
our special temptation has lain in the direction of our respectability;
but we must accept, with all the graciousness of which we are capable,
this tribute to the fact that our founders honourably sustained the
traditions of our denomination.  And what is equally remarkable, they
succeeded in informing even an outsider like Mr. Faulkner of their
primary contention—surely no small achievement!—for he writes of us:
“They are amenable as a religious society only to the jurisdiction of
Christ.”  In other respects also he does no injustice to the Independent
position.

Of the Kensington of 1793 I need not say much; for most of those who read
this little book will be quite familiar with the astonishing change that
has come over this locality since then.  We like to recall the fields and
woods through which the first seat-holders of Hornton Street Chapel
walked to worship on the Sunday, even though the thought suggests
melancholy reflections on our own loss in this respect.  We are more
content to have a century of time between ourselves and the footpads who
infested the road that led to London.  It appears that in 1820, when Mr.
Faulkner was completing his history, a new church had been erected in
Marylebone; and we are congratulated on the fact, because the joint
parishes of Kensington and Paddington contain as many as twelve thousand
people!  And as for some years previous the great increase in the
population had been causing considerable anxiety, and even alarm, we may
easily estimate the paucity of the population of Kensington in 1793.

The year of our origin is famous in history as the French Revolution
year.  We cannot forget to what gloomy forebodings, as to the future of
religion, that momentous event gave rise.  It is not of course anything
heroic, but it is not without its sublime side, that amid the wild and
violent prophesyings of that time, the founders of this Church sat
quietly down to discuss plans and estimates for erecting a meeting-house
for those to worship in who, as they believed, would still desire to seek
the Lord, when all the “fool-fury of the Seine” was remembered only with
horror and pity.  Theirs was a sound, substantial faith that was not
frightened by chimeras, nor even dismayed by actual portents as alarming
as the French Revolution.  When a State has thrown over its Church with
such violence as was used in France, it was surely something to belong to
a Church that asked nothing, and expected nothing, from the State, except
freedom to do its work unpatronised and unmolested.

While March, 1793, is the date of the first public document introducing
the new church to the inhabitants of Kensington, it is quite clear that a
quiet and effective spiritual work had been proceeding in a very simple
way for some time previous to the erection of Hornton Street Chapel.
This work was largely due to Mr. Saunders, the “body coachman” of George
III., who was in the habit of providing His Majesty with religious
tracts, and who had now retired to Kensington, where he was apparently
the guiding spirit of a small conventicle “in a very humble dwelling.”
In such apostolic simplicity the Church began, and in course of time
there was a sufficient nucleus of members and sympathisers with the freer
methods of worship of the Dissenters, as to justify the issuing of the
following most significant appeal, which stands as the beginning of the
Church records, but has no date attached:—

    “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 of
    These 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 Agreable to
    the dictates of our Consciences, We, from pure Motives of Religion
    and Piety Alone, for conveniancy to Ourselves and Familys, and to
    Others who may be like-minded with Us in Matters of Religion, Do
    Propose, Under the favour and Blessing of 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 and
    forms 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, and Agreable to the Standard of Truth, 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 Truths, 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
    factious politicks, and Jarring interests of Ambitious Men, ‘That we
    may lead quiet and peacable lives in all Godliness and honesty,’ as
    Commanded 1 Tim. ii. 1, 2.”

Closely following this, apparently, was a somewhat similar appeal, dated
March, 1793, which shows, however, that the “friends of religious
liberty, sincere Christianity, and of benevolent dispositions” had
sufficiently responded to the first appeal to justify very practical
measures being taken.  The second document reads as follows:—

                                              “KENSINGTON.  _March_. 1793.

    “To the Friends of Christianity and Religious Liberty,—

    “We the Undersigned having been educated in the Religious principles
    of protestant Dissenters, Do from Motives of Religion and Piety, for
    Conveniancy to Ourselves and families, and to Others who may be like
    Minded with us in Matters of Religion, being likewise Solicited by
    Many Serious, Welldisposed Christians, and depending on the blessing
    of divine Providence, With the Mild Government of this Country, have
    resolved to erect a Chapel for the Worship of Almighty God in the
    Parish of Kensington,

    “For this purpose we have taken a Suitable Piece of Ground on a long
    Lease, and Engaged to Erect, and Compleat a Building, Estimated at
    Upwards of £900, Which Work is Already began and now carrying on, We
    are therefore induced to Solicit the Aid and Assistance of all
    Liberal Minded, and Benevolent Christians, to enable us to finish and
    Compleat So Good an Undertaking, hoping that we shall thereby promote
    the Glory of God, and the Interests of true Religion and Vertue,
    Having Nothing in View but to forward the Attainment of these great
    Objects,

    “All Voluntary Gifts and Contributions, from Societies or
    Individuals, Which are hereby humbly solicited, will be thankfully
    received, and gratefully acknowledged by,

                               JOHN BROADWOOD,
                               JAMES MACINTOSH,
                                 JAMES GRAY,
                               WILLIAM FORSYTH,

                                                              _Trustees_.”

Estimates even in those days were liable to be exceeded, so that we are
not surprised to find that “upwards of £900” meant, in plain figures,
£2000, for which sum Robert Saunderson contracted with John Broadwood and
the other trustees to erect Hornton Street Chapel and buildings.  It is a
matter worthy of note that one whose name was destined to receive such
world-wide renown, as the founder of the great firm of Broadwood & Sons,
manufacturers of pianos, should have been one of the founders of this
Christian Church.  He is described as “a Harpsichord Maker,” and was
evidently of great service to the society, not only in the preliminary
business arrangements, but subsequently in introducing the first organ
and developing the musical service.  But with the work of building well
in hand, we may regard the new Church as fairly launched, and reserve our
story of its opening history for the next chapter.



II—CONSOLIDATION: THE FIRST MINISTRY


IT is interesting to notice that the positive principles uniting the
first members of the society were as yet very indefinite.  They had
clearly not formulated in their own minds any very distinct doctrine of
the Church.  They assembled together because they had a preference for
the freer form of service of Nonconformity, and wished to worship God
after the manner most consonant with their own feelings.  There were
associated in the congregation Dissenters of many varieties of thought,
and, no doubt, of differing degrees of Dissent.  It was a matter of
indifference to them what might be the denominational preferences of
their minister.  The first invitation was sent forth by the “trustees and
subscribers,” and was addressed to the Rev. John Lake, M.A., of whose
views as to Church Government we know nothing, but have some reason to
suppose he was a Presbyterian.  This lack of any positive basis of Church
fellowship was a somewhat serious obstacle to the spiritual progress of
the community; and, indeed, the early records of the Church are a most
instructive commentary on the necessity of trying to realise the
Scriptural conception.  The purely business aspect of their undertaking
was for some years the most prominent one.  The members of the society
did not meet on a purely spiritual basis: and very imperfectly realised
that the great mission of the Church was not accomplished by the
provision of opportunities for their particular form of worship.  Hence
we are not surprised that some of the first ministers were often pained
by the commercial spirit that at times prevailed in the deliberations of
those responsible for carrying on the work.

With the same simplicity and modesty that had characterised the
initiation of the work, the chapel was apparently opened with little or
no ceremony, or blowing of trumpets.  Not a reference do the minutes
contain to any inauguration meeting.  Notice was sent to “the Right
Reverend Father in God, Beilby, by Divine Providence Lord Bishop of
London,” informing him that the Chapel had been erected as a place of
worship for Dissenters, and requesting him to register it in his
registry, “pursuant to the Act of Toleration.”  Comfortable in the
possession of his lordship’s nominal consent, and august episcopal
sanction, the society proceeded to approach the Rev. John Neal Lake,
M.A., at that time resident at Walthamstow, with a view to inducing him
to undertake the ministry at Kensington.  Some sixty names were attached
to the invitation; and, in an admirably-worded reply, Mr. Lake accepted
the position in November, 1794.

With a pastor of their choice happily settled among them, the time for
entering into a closer and more spiritual bond had clearly come.  The tie
of a subscription to the new building was not a sufficient one for a
community that was organised for the purpose of extending the kingdom of
God: and hence we are fully prepared for the very simple and beautiful
service held on March 8th, 1795, when “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.”  To those who feel the supreme importance of the
Church, as distinguished from either the outward building or the
particular minister, this is a memorable record.  This building of the
living stones into a Church of Jesus Christ is far more significant than
the erection of a chapel.  And this warm-hearted brotherhood of Christian
men and women has continued in the faith and service of Christ, in
unbroken succession, for a hundred years.  The first Communion service
was evidently a very solemn and impressive time.  Even the minutes of the
Church book lose the atmosphere of formality.  We learn how Mr. Lake
descended from the pulpit to the Communion table, where “a linen cloth
and elements” had been previously laid; {36} how the “great pew” and the
adjoining pews were filled with communicants; how, after the distribution
of the elements, Mr. Lake returned to the pulpit and delivered an
exhortation.  “Upon the whole, it was a good day to many present, and, it
is to be hoped, a day to be remembered,” writes the Secretary, and
proceeds to record the names and addresses of the “occasional
communicants” who were present.

    [Picture: The First Communion Cups.  From Photo. by Mr. S. Davie]

Whether our good friend, the Secretary, exhausted himself with this
description, or became less industrious than formerly, we cannot say.
Possibly the unexciting but important work of the infant community seemed
to him to require not even the very qualified notoriety of a minute-book.
Certain it is that until May, 1798, there is but little recorded; and
then “another hand” writes a short account of the monthly prayer meeting
of the London Missionary Society, which, we are informed, was instituted
“for the purpose of sending Christian missionaries to Otaheité, Africa,
and other distant places.”  This prayer meeting was held “by rotation” at
Kensington, and marks the beginning of the missionary interest of
Kensington Chapel.  Mr. Faulkner, in his notice of us, says that an
auxiliary missionary society was connected with the chapel, “which, by
means of contributions of one penny per week, raises the sum of nearly
one hundred pounds per annum.”  This excellent systematic organisation of
missionary interest, enlisting the rich and poor alike in the work by
means of a modest and regular subscription, was a very satisfactory
application of the business traditions of the Church to the problem of
increasing the offerings for missionary enterprise.  Possibly, after the
lapse of nearly a hundred years, there are some who might find it a
helpful and valuable thing to themselves and others to revive an old
tradition.

There is no account given in the minutes of Mr. Lake’s resignation, but
our friend Mr. Faulkner assures us, with no doubt some inward
satisfaction to himself, 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.”  It would be
idle to pay even the tribute of a regret to this secession of ninety
years ago.  And it must be clear to all that one with Episcopal leanings
was not the person needed to lead the people in the complete
consolidation of a Congregational Church.  Mr. Lake’s resignation
prepared the way for a sounder and healthier development of Church life
and government.



III—A BRIEF MINISTRY—REV. JOHN CLAYTON


                       [Picture: Rev. John Clayton]

IT was in the month of May, 1801, that the members of the congregation
united in a very earnest call to Mr. John Clayton to become their
minister.  As no fewer than a hundred names appear as signatories, we may
infer that considerable progress had been made under Mr. Lake’s ministry.
Mr. Clayton was still formally unordained, though he had been assistant
minister to the Rev. John Winter at Newbury for one year since leaving
college.  He was barely twenty-one years of age when he came to
Kensington to take up the work of the pastorate.  The portrait of him
that adorns the Deacons’ Vestry, and which is here reproduced, was
clearly taken in the maturity of middle-life.  He maintained admirably
the traditions of the Clayton family.  His father, the Rev. John Clayton,
was a well-known divine, of the most approved style of pulpit manners.
We read with a kind of awe of his “thickly-powdered head” and his general
magnificence of demeanour.  Both his sons, George and John, inherited
their father’s ideal.  We have heard it said that the Kensington
congregation has never assembled punctually on Sunday morning since John
Clayton’s day.  It was part of the service to watch the procession of
their minister from the vestry to the pulpit.  Young as he was, he bore
himself so bravely, in full canonicals, with gloved hands and dignified
movements, that it is no wonder the congregation conceived a great
admiration for his person.  No one can look at his portrait without
perceiving that he was a man of commanding presence; and we surely cannot
wonder if he knew it, and utilised it to the best advantage.  And it is
only just to him to add, that the effect of his preaching was by no means
due solely, or mainly, to his striking appearance.  He was a man of great
mental abilities, and had had considerable culture.  He was thus
admirably adapted in many ways to the sphere he was called to occupy.
With a liking for the best society, and a distinguished appearance, his
courtly habits of speech and carriage gained him a deference that was not
commonly paid to Dissenting preachers.  If the assiduous cultivation of
these personal characteristics had tended to make him less alive to the
spiritual necessities of his people, we should have been justified in
depreciating them.  But it had not that effect.  One has only to read the
energetic charge, which his father delivered to him at the ordination
service at Kensington, to see that the fastidiousness of outward manner
and apparel of the elder Clayton were not incompatible with a directness,
incisiveness, and even vehemence of speech, that the warmest partisan
might covet.  It seems probable that John Clayton took his father’s
advice not to be an “unfaithful, accommodating pastor” in its most
literal sense.  He had been told in the ordination charge not only “to
feed the flock, but to _drive away_ the grievous wolves”; an exhortation
which permitted of a mischievous application.  The writer of this sketch
dare not indulge in comments on the impatience of youth, and there is
very little evidence of any kind in the Church records.  But what there
is is all in John Clayton’s favour.  The Church was by no means clear of
the commercial spirit.  The only view of its functions still held by many
was that it was a society for managing certain business in connection
with the expenses of public worship.  That such questions must inevitably
arise, and that they should be discussed and answered from a Christian
standpoint, is beyond dispute.  But it says much for John Clayton that
the constant intrusion of the merely financial element, and the failure
of those in authority to realise the spiritual mission of the Church,
caused him such concern, that he felt compelled to resign his ministry.
Possibly he was unprepared for the necessarily slow and difficult work of
permeating a society of characteristically business men with the deepest
religious spirit.  The membership of the Church stood still.  Mr. Clayton
said that he found his sentiments on many subjects, but especially that
of the Lord’s Supper, opposed to those of many of the members.  He was
not himself a man who would be easily carried away with a rush of
enthusiasm, and hence he did not carry away others.  God was, even then,
preparing just such a man to break down the unspirituality of the
congregation, and to build up a higher form of Christian society in
Kensington; and this man was still at college when John Clayton’s
resignation was accepted in December, 1804.



IV—SIXTEEN YEARS OF SPIRITUAL PROGRESS—REV. JOHN LEIFCHILD


                      [Picture: Rev. Dr. Leifchild]

IF the congregation at Kensington felt that John Clayton acted with
something of the rashness and impatience of youth, there was at least no
sign that they so regarded it: for after unsuccessful overtures had been
made to the Rev. F. Hamilton, of Brighton, to become successor to Mr.
Clayton, they turned to another young man fresh from college, whose name
was John Leifchild.  After patiently waiting until he had completed the
few remaining months of his college course, they welcomed him to the
pastorate in June, 1808; and a very remarkable ministry then began.  It
is impossible to feel surprise at Mr. Leifchild’s frank avowal of the
defects of the congregation considered as a spiritual society.  Any one
who has wearily made his way through the minutes in the church-book
relating to this period, might be pardoned for concluding that no
spiritual body existed at all.  The government of the church was in the
hands of a small coterie of managers; and the records consist of an
uninspiring succession of financial statistics and plans for raising
money.  To those of us who are more interested in the character of the
Church than in the idiosyncrasies of any particular minister, these
accounts are not good to read.  Mr. Leifchild says, “There was a great
prejudice in the town against the Dissenters”; and one can hardly wonder
at that when we remember that Dissenters can only justify their existence
as Dissenters by the superiority of their spiritual thought and work: and
of this at present there is but too little trace in the history that we
have received.  But in every way—patience, perseverance, tact and
courage—John Leifchild was just the man to inaugurate a better era.  At
this time the church made a resolute and successful endeavour to
liquidate the old debt on the buildings: and then, after the manner of
high-spirited communities, proceeded to contract a new one.  The young
minister had almost immediately attained considerable popularity, and a
back gallery had to be erected.  In a short time side galleries had to be
added, to accommodate the people who desired to worship at Hornton Street
Chapel.  All these alterations involved the congregation in somewhat
expensive liabilities, and, in addition, the incidental expenditure had
not been met.  These were only the necessary penalties of success, and it
was quite clear that all would come right in time.  But the financial
apprehensions of the managers were excited; and they actually formulated
proposals for taxing the seat-holders, inserting in their plan, however,
a suitable declaration of their devotion to the voluntary principle.  The
proposals were overthrown by the unwavering resistance of Mr. Leifchild,
and the voluntary principle, fairly applied, proved more than adequate to
the necessities of the time.

Our Sunday Schools to-day are such a notable feature of Kensington
Chapel, that it is interesting to find a record of this kind, dated
February 22nd, 1814: “Resolved—In consequence of no other place being
found so convenient as the _vault_ under the chapel for a Sunday School,
that we take the same into consideration.”  We are sometimes tempted to
complain of the discomforts of our present buildings, but those who began
the work had to do it obviously under difficulties of which we know
little.  The managers, however, could not finally consent to bury the
Sunday School in the vault,—and hence, by the removal of the staircase, a
room was fitted up under the back gallery, and here the Sunday School was
very narrowly housed.  This important question having been thus disposed
of, a more serious problem arose—that of music.  There was at this time
no organ; but it was natural that one so distinguished in the musical
world as Mr. Broadwood should desire the introduction of a suitable
instrument.  Mr. Broadwood not only desired it; but he was liberal enough
to offer to present an organ to the chapel.  The conscientious objection
to instrumental music in religious buildings is now, for the most part,
ancient history.  But feeling ran high on the question in the days I am
writing of, and one “true-blue Presbyterian,” as Dr. Stoughton calls him,
would have none of the new-fangled methods, and retired with his family
from the scene, entering his protest against the whole proceedings in
stout British fashion.  Mr. Broadwood gave the organ; and the treasurer
had great difficulty, apparently, in paying the organist; and, what with
periodical discontinuance of the organ on the score of expense, and
criticism of the organist by the congregation, the musical affairs were
far from smooth and pleasant for some time to come.  Kensington music has
never ceased to be a source of anxious solicitude to the Church from that
day to this.

Many are the stories of Mr. Leifchild’s power of preaching, and it is
evident that he prepared his discourses with great care.  His method of
delivery was somewhat singular, and we should be inclined to regard it as
artificial.  But it was capable of great effect.  The main portion of the
discourse was delivered in a quiet, conversational tone, and was occupied
in doctrinal, or exegetical, exposition.  The audience listened
languidly, if not drowsily.  But suddenly there was an awakening.  The
preacher was approaching his application.  Standing full back in the
pulpit, and mustering all his energy, he proceeded to declaim the final
passages of the sermon.  In these he drove home the truths he had
elicited in exposition with amazing force.  The congregation was now
listening with breathless interest.  This was what they had come to hear;
and they were simply at the preacher’s mercy for the remainder of his
discourse.  This old style of preaching has almost entirely, if not
altogether, disappeared.  But it was a great power in those days, and
there were few more absolute masters of the art than John Leifchild.
There are still two members connected with Kensington Chapel who were in
Mr. Leifchild’s Bible Class.

After sixteen years of faithful ministry, Mr. Leifchild accepted a call
to Bristol, and left amid genuine expressions of regret.  It is
interesting to note that, immediately after his departure, the minutes,
which have only recorded “Managers’ meetings,” change to “Managers’ and
Deacons’ meetings.”  The introduction of the spiritual order of
office-bearers is not without significance.  Neither is the fact that the
next minister was invited, not by the subscribers and trustees, but by
the Church.  Evidently “the old order changeth, yielding place to new”;
and John Leifchild’s greatest success was his last—for we can hardly
doubt that it was his—when the spiritual order superseded the purely
business order, and the power of a body of managers gave way to the
authority of a Church of Christ.



V—PROSPERITY UNDER DR. ROBERT VAUGHAN


                  [Picture: Rev. Robert Vaughan.  D.D.]

IN the minutes that describe the events immediately succeeding the
resignation of Mr. Leifchild, in August, 1824, there are several
references to the institution of a Church Prayer Meeting.  Such an
anxious period as inevitably follows the loss of a minister is often a
valuable discipline to a Church, as tending to throw the members back
upon the guidance of the Spirit of God.  That the Church at Kensington
had realised the need to consult, not only with one another, but with the
All-wise, was the best possible augury of prosperity to come.  And,
verily, God did choose for them.  Dr. Robert Vaughan was a very different
man in many ways from Mr. Leifchild, but no one could have been more
admirably adapted to continue and develop the work that the Church had
hitherto been doing.  He had all the instincts and tastes of a scholar;
and as a brilliant historical writer he exercised a wider ministry, and
influenced a larger circle, than if he had simply exercised his gifts as
a preacher in the Hornton Street pulpit.  So considerable was his fame
that he was appointed Professor of Modern History at London University;
and, with the generosity which has always characterised the Kensington
congregation in such matters, his people spared him gladly much of the
labour of visitation, for the sake of the services he was thus able to
render to the rising generation of Londoners.  Kensington was now
assuming the character it has ever since possessed, of a great
residential suburb for aristocratic and wealthy London.  There was a
large circle of able and cultivated men and women to be reached and
influenced by the attraction of one, whose personal attainments and
powers were sufficiently remarkable to overcome the strong prejudices
against Dissenting meeting-places that have always existed in the minds
of such.  This power Dr. Vaughan possessed and exercised: while at the
same time his personal elevation of character, and rare spiritual
earnestness, qualified him pre-eminently to be a guide to all who knew
him in “the deep things of God.”  We are consequently quite prepared to
find that the little meeting-house in Hornton Street was a centre of
light and leading to a large number of men and women who occupied
prominent positions in society and in the professions.  And yet the last
accusation that could be levelled against Dr. Vaughan was that of a
“tuft-hunter.”  He did not _stoop_ to conquer, in the sense of descending
to any unworthy artifices: he flattered no one; and his reputation as one
of the great historians of Nonconformity is sufficient assurance that he
never betrayed his trust as a custodian of the sacred interests of
religious freedom.

One of the signs of the earnestness of the Church at this time, in
seeking to perpetuate the principles for which it stood, was the constant
interest manifested in the work of the British Schools, for which Dr.
Vaughan repeatedly preached special sermons.  The school used to meet in
a building at the back of Hornton Street Chapel.  No attempt was made to
indoctrinate the infant mind with denominational ideas; but, on the other
hand, such religious instruction was given as is clearly to be gathered
from the study of the Bible, and any child could be educated there
without being required to learn by heart the exceedingly questionable
teaching of the Church Catechism.  For a long period of years these
schools remained in very close touch with the Congregational Church, and
were only eventually transferred to the management of the School Board
when the general scheme of religious education, under the Board, was seen
to be thoroughly in harmony with what had prevailed so long in the
British Schools.

It is by such simple notices as those concerning the British Schools, the
Missionary Society, the Sunday Schools, and other institutions, that we
can form our idea of the many interests that were beginning to take
possession of the hearts of the people.  The records during Dr. Vaughan’s
ministry are singularly imperfect, and it is only quite incidentally that
we get some impression of the steadily increasing prosperity of the
cause.  For eighteen years Dr. Vaughan continued his ministry, and there
is not a single evidence of a moment’s break in the harmony of the
Church.  When, in 1843, Dr. Vaughan was honoured with an invitation to
become Principal of the Lancashire Independent College, the letters of
himself and of the Church were such as became those who had lived and
worked so long together in the most honourable spirit of Christian
fellowship.  The letter of the Church is exceedingly touching in its
anxiety to express to the full its ardent and affectionate attachment to
Dr. Vaughan, and yet to do nothing to add to the necessary pain and
anxiety of his decision.  Dr. Vaughan felt that the call to Lancashire
was of God, and he placed his resignation in the hands of the Church.
But even then, his interest in their welfare was unabated; and he knew
the perils of a time of unsettlement.  There was one well known to him,
and to whom he was related by many affinities of thought and sympathy,
who was labouring at that time in a sphere of less influence at Windsor;
and, before he left Kensington, he approached Dr. John Stoughton, and
obtained from him the promise that he would consent to preach before the
Kensington congregation.  Two months afterwards Dr. Stoughton accepted a
unanimous invitation from the Church, and commenced his ministry.  Before
closing this chapter, one word must be added.  There are many sacred
memories connected with Hornton Street Chapel, and those who used to
worship there; but none more sacred to all who honour those in whom pure
genius stands united to simple faith and devout spirituality, than those
associated with the name of Robert Alfred Vaughan.  He was the beloved
son of Dr. Vaughan, and the highest hopes were cherished for him by a
large circle of religious and literary men.  He entered the
Congregational ministry, and gave to the world a work of the greatest
promise, entitled “Hours with the Mystics.”  His own beautiful spirit
breathed through every page.  But his work was too arduous, and he died
in early manhood.  It has been said that if he had avoided the fatigue of
constant pastoral duty, he might have lived on to do brilliant
intellectual work.  It may be so.  But perhaps he chose the better part,
and did the greater work, as will one day be known.  At any rate, he has
left us his own answer, in what has been called his “Psalm of Life.”

    “And thou canst not in life’s city
       Rule thy course as in a cell:
    There are others, all thy brothers,
       Who have work to do as well.

    “Some events that mar thy purpose
       May light _them_ upon their way;
    Our sun—shining, in declining—
       Gives earth’s other side the day.

    “Every star is drawn and draweth
       ’Mid the orbits of its peers;
    And the blending thus unending
       Makes the music of the spheres.”

Of Robert Alfred Vaughan we still love to conjecture what he _is_, or, as
some prefer to put it, what he would have been if he had lived.  He was
the Arthur Hallam of Nonconformity.



VI—ENLARGING OUR BORDERS—DR. STOUGHTON’S MINISTRY.


  [Picture: Rev. Dr. Stoughton.  By kind permission of Messrs. Elliott &
                                   Fry]

THE succession of Dr. Stoughton to the ministry of the Church brings us
exactly to the middle of our century of history.  In October, 1843, the
recognition service was held.  Dr. Stoughton, in his letter accepting the
invitation, had feelingly referred to the difficulty of following Dr.
Vaughan, “one whose eminence in the Christian world might well provoke,
in connection with myself, humiliating comparisons.”  But, indeed, the
Church had been guided to one of the very few men who might fittingly
continue the work of Dr. Vaughan.  As a historian of those periods of
English history in which Nonconformists are especially interested, Dr.
Stoughton stands unsurpassed among Englishmen; and such is the fairness
and moderation of his writings that Church of England lecturers have
repeatedly made appeal to them as models of impartial and accurate
statement.  Indeed, Dr. Stoughton’s literary industry has been immense.
The Religious Tract Society has largely benefited by admirably written
accounts of the great Reformers and religious heroes of Christendom,
while Dr. Stoughton’s editorship of the _Evangelical Magazine_ was
conspicuously successful in making that organ a power among the Churches.
But it was in no partial or half-hearted way that he threw himself into
his ministerial work at Kensington.  Our readers must turn to his own
inimitable narrative in “Congregationalism in the Court Suburb” for the
delightful reminiscences he gives of his own ministry, and the people
associated with it.  Our concern is with the growth of the Church life;
and to this end we must pursue our examination of the records, which are
henceforth admirably kept.

That Dr. Stoughton immediately acquired the full confidence and loyal
support of the Church officers and members is evident from a very
remarkable fact.  For many years past the Church had been, in all
essential procedure, a Congregational Church; but, although it was so in
fact, it was not so actually in form.  The members had apparently not
been led to see the importance of constituting themselves according to
the New Testament practice.  We all know that it is not easy to carry out
important changes without arousing considerable criticism, and, not
unusually, opposition.  And for the truer fashioning of the Church upon
more Apostolic lines there was needed a strong and wise leadership.  This
leadership was supplied by the new minister, and the delicate work of
reorganisation was most successfully and harmoniously carried through.
The existing “managers” became deacons, and new deacons were appointed;
and the Church assumed the form which it has ever since maintained.  It
was of excellent augury for the success of his ministry that Dr.
Stoughton perceived so early that the recognition of the spiritual order
of the Church in form, as well as in fact, was a vital principle.
However much of the subsequent development of our Church we may attribute
to Dr. Stoughton’s able and devoted ministry, we are bound to attribute
even more to this bold and timely assertion of the true idea of the
Church.

The time soon came when the Hornton Street Chapel proved too small for
the number of hearers.  Kensington was, even now, rapidly developing, and
every month added to the congregations that assembled to worship in what
was never a large building.  What enlargement could easily be made was
carried out in 1845, but it afforded only temporary relief.  There had
evidently come to the Church one of those testing times of faith and
sacrifice which prove the genuineness of the spirit and the life.  The
district of Notting Hill was becoming an influential and populous one,
and the conviction was laying hold of the minds and hearts of many, that
it was a clear duty to Christ that a certain number of the members should
consent to break with the old associations of Hornton Street, and form a
new Church in the district just mentioned.  Such a proposal, of course,
meant even more than the severance of very sacred ties that bound them to
the old society, and to their loved minister.  It meant a generous
offering of their money for the new building.  But to all these demands
the Church was equal.  At a meeting held in the vestry at Hornton Street,
£1700 was at once subscribed, and, in a very tender and beautiful
document, that betrays in every line the sorrow that they felt at thus
going forth from a place and a community so dear to them, thirty-seven
members ask to be commissioned by the Hornton Street Church to form a new
society at Horbury, Notting Hill.  An exodus of this kind, where the
spirit is entirely of love and faith, is a memorable and impressive
event.  Something like one hundred seat-holders left Hornton Street for
Horbury; but the two congregations remained one in heart, as they were
one in tradition.  Under the long and able ministry of the Rev. William
Roberts, the Horbury Church has been a great power for good in that
neighbourhood.  We reproduce a photograph of the chapel, which stands on
an admirable site, and presents a very good appearance.

                 [Picture: Horbury Chapel, Notting Hill]

On purely economical principles the mother Church should now be seriously
weakened by the voluntary surrender of so many members, and so much
earnest Christian capacity.  But the great law of the economy of the
Kingdom of Heaven is that we live by sacrifice.  And it was so now.  The
Church at Hornton Street flourished as never before.  The income was not
impaired: the sittings refilled; the organisations abounded with life.
In influence, reputation, and spiritual power, the Church grew day by
day.  Not five years afterwards, the old problem of enlarging the
accommodation presented itself once more for solution.  The time was
hardly ripe, nor was any special neighbourhood obvious, for planting a
new settlement.  Consequently the alternative solution remained.  There
must be a new and larger edifice built.  The spirit of the people, so far
from being daunted by the prospect of a large expenditure, and all the
infinite cares of chapel building, rose to meet the opportunity.  The
site at Allen Street was secured, and in June, 1854, Dr. Stoughton laid
the first stone of Kensington Chapel.  In May, 1855, the building was
opened, and in January, 1860, it was paid for, the total cost of land and
building being £8748 9_s._ 6_d._  The plain and severe character of the
interior probably represented, even then, the average Nonconformist taste
in regard to chapel architecture.  Æsthetically considered, it is no
doubt indefensible.  The windows are undeniably ugly; the pulpit—designed
as a firm remonstrance against locomotion on the part of its occupant—is
painfully stiff and square; and the general aspect of the building is
somewhat dull and prosaic.  But, as a suitable and convenient place for
Nonconformist worship, there is very much to be said for this form of
building.  Every one can see the preacher, and he can see every one.  The
acoustic properties are perfect.  Nothing interferes with the enjoyment
of speaking and hearing: no handsome but troublesome pillars interrupt
the sight; and, let us add, when it is well filled, many of its most
obvious defects entirely disappear.

There is no need to trace in anything like detail the steady progress of
the Church in its new habitation.  In 1856 the Lecture Hall was built,
and has been an indispensable adjunct to the Church buildings since that
time.  In 1868 the Church took into consideration the need for larger
buildings to contain the British Schools, and shortly afterwards the
friends of the Schools began the building that now stands next to
Kensington Chapel, and is the meeting-place of our Sunday Schools.  Thus
the years were full of work and growth in many directions, and the utmost
harmony prevailed among the members, while the relationship of pastor and
people grew closer and more affectionate as the time rolled by.  In
course of time the Church provided an assistant minister to relieve Dr.
Stoughton of some part of the labour.  The arrangement worked
harmoniously and fairly successfully.  But Dr. Stoughton had come to feel
that this was not a permanent settlement of the question that was
arising, how best to provide for the pastoral supervision of the people,
as well as for the superintendence of the numerous important
organisations connected with the Church.  Through thirty years of
faithful ministerial labour, assisted by the harmonious co-operation of a
devoted people, Dr. Stoughton had led the Church forward, step by step,
into a position of exceptional strength and influence.  It was not
unnatural that, having borne the burden and heat of the day so faithfully
and so long, he should desire to be released from the full
responsibilities of the pastorate.  But it was two years later before his
deeply attached people could consent to the severance of a tie that had
become so sacred.  The retirement of Dr. Stoughton from the pastorate of
the Church evoked demonstrations of respect and affection that we do not
hesitate to term unique.  At the public meeting in the chapel, on April
8th, 1875, to say farewell, there was a most remarkable assemblage of
honoured men.  Mr. Samuel Morley occupied the chair, and Sir Thomas
Chambers, Mr. Henry Richard, Sir Charles Reed, Dean Stanley, Canon
Fremantle, Dr. Morley Punshon, Dr. Angus, Dr. Henry Allon, and the Rev.
Baldwin Brown were among those who took part in the meeting.  An address,
expressive of admiration and regard for Dr. Stoughton, and gratitude for
his devoted ministry, was presented to him, accompanied by a purse
containing £3000.  Thus closed a most memorable ministry.  But it is one
of the special joys of our centenary services that Dr. Stoughton should
still be able to come among us, to celebrate the fiftieth year of his
association with Kensington.  He retired full of honours.  His great
qualities, alike of literary ability and personal character, won for him
the unique distinction of being elected by those most eminent in the
various branches of our national life—Politics, Art, Science, and
Literature—to membership of the Athenæum Club.  We believe that he alone
of all Nonconformist ministers has been welcomed to this honour.  But we
are certainly right in saying that, even more than such a mark of
recognition by men distinguished in so many walks of life, he has valued
the simple love and loyalty of that Christian Church to which he gave
himself with such unqualified devotion, and which owes so much of its
present character and influence to the spiritual leadership of Dr.
Stoughton.



VII—A GRACIOUS MINISTRY—DR. ALEXANDER RALEIGH


 [Picture: Rev. Dr. Raleigh.  By kind permission of Messrs. Elliot & Fry]

A DISTINGUISHED living preacher once said to his congregation that his
work would only be done when he had taught them to do without him.  It is
a true test of the soundness of a minister’s work when the congregation
does not break up, nor even suffer loss at his withdrawal, but, in the
spirit of faith and prayer and counsel, addresses itself to the delicate
work of seeking a successor.  A congregation, that for thirty-two years
had enjoyed the ministry of so able a man as Dr. Stoughton, might have
almost been forgiven, had it manifested some indecision when his guidance
was withdrawn.  But a true Independent Church is trained to habits of
self-government; and at the critical periods of its history these habits
are its protection and salvation.  After unavailing efforts had been made
to induce the Rev. G. S. Barrett, B.A., of Norwich, to accept the
pastorate, the thought of the Church was directed to one whose name will
ever be fragrant in the memory of the Church of Christ, Dr. Alexander
Raleigh.  At this time Dr. Raleigh was exercising his ministry in
connection with two associated churches in Highbury; and only the strain
of this exceptional work upon one of his advancing years could justify
him in listening to any proposals that he should move westward.  The work
at Highbury was in the highest degree fruitful: but it was evident that
Dr. Raleigh’s health was on the verge of breaking down; and when the
cordial and unanimous call of the Kensington Church reached him he gave
it earnest and anxious consideration, and finally determined to accept
it.

In this way there was consummated a union of which those who were
privileged to share in it speak to this day in the most tender and
grateful terms.  One feels that the very chapel has been hallowed and
consecrated by the closing years of a beautiful ministry—years which
brought with them all the radiant hues and tints of autumn.  The story of
these years, as, indeed, of the whole life of Alexander Raleigh, has been
so inimitably written by his wife, that it has become a classic among
Nonconformist biographies; and there are few libraries among us on the
shelves of which there are not to be found “Quiet Resting-places,” “The
Little Sanctuary,” “The Book of Esther,” or some other volume of those
exquisitely finished and spiritual sermons which will embody the spirit
of Alexander Raleigh for all future generations.  Dr. Raleigh, especially
at this period of his life, had an indefinable grace of spiritual repose
and inward peace, which communicated itself to those who came under his
influence.  Not that he was a Quietist.  He was an ardent politician, and
never ceased to take a profound and practical interest in questions of
national importance.  He was an impassioned preacher of righteousness;
and a robust and uncompromising Nonconformist.  But controversy did not
disturb his deep inward peace of spirit; and while it is true that, like
the great Independent of earlier days,

             “His heart
    The lowliest duties on herself did lay”;

it could also be said of him,

    “Thy soul was like a star and dwelt apart.”

But it would be impossible to speak of Dr. Raleigh’s work at Kensington
without speaking of Mrs. Raleigh’s work also.  It is still a red-letter
day in the experience of many at Kensington Chapel when Mrs. Raleigh
revisits those in whose hearts she has so large a place, and to many of
whom she made real the most sacred beliefs of Christianity.  Mrs. Raleigh
gathered a large Bible Class, which still continues to assemble in the
Deacons’ Vestry on Sunday afternoons, and comprises not only elder girls
and young women, but those who would not be offended if they were called
elderly.  The character of her influence over this class, and over all in
the congregation who knew her—and who did not?—needs to be actually known
to be adequately appreciated.

The congregations, under Dr. Raleigh’s inspiring ministry, filled the
large chapel in every part.  And, with this growth in the congregation,
it must have been very encouraging, to all who were interested, to mark
the growth in the Church.  At one time forty-three members are recorded
as having joined the Church, at another time thirty, at another
twenty-five, and so on.  Many who were of Scotch extraction found their
patriotism too strong even for denominational preferences, and came great
distances to hear “Raleigh” at Kensington.  Brief as his ministry was—too
brief, we say, with our imperfect conceptions—it was yet long enough to
leave an indelible impression on numbers of his hearers, who will bear
the marks of his fashioning to all eternity.  His successors in the
ministry here alone know, perhaps, how deep and abiding was the spiritual
work done in those five years.

That, in the enjoyment of these rare spiritual privileges, the Church did
not become self-centred, is manifest, not only in the steady interest in
missionary and philanthropic work, but in the initiation of a movement,
which was not realised until later, for planting a new church at West
Kensington.  With characteristic generosity Dr. Raleigh welcomed the
proposal, but it was not given to him to do more than “greet the promise
afar.”  The shadow was even now beginning to fall upon him; yet those who
had been most apprehensive of a serious breakdown in his health learned
with something of stupefaction the doctors’ verdict that recovery was
impossible.  There is a deeply pathetic suggestiveness associated with
the fact that the last sermon he preached was from the text, “And Enoch
walked with God: and he was not, for God took him.”  Possibly some
premonition of the end had come to him; possibly a Higher than he had put
the words into his heart for his final address to his beloved people.
For the touching story of his last days, we shall still turn to the
beautiful narrative of Mrs. Raleigh.  It is not too much to say that not
only all Congregationalists everywhere kept sympathetic watch, as it
were, around the sick-bed; but the larger Church of Christ listened
anxiously for tidings of the progress of the invalid.  And progress it
was, but progress heavenward.  Shortly after noon on Monday, April 19th,
1880, he passed away; and, for the first time in its history, Death had
sealed the ministry of a pastor of the Kensington Church while he was
still in its service.  There is a holy discipline for a Church in such a
deep common sorrow, such as not the most eloquent preaching can convey.
The “still” voice speaks louder even than the strong full voice of life.
It is good sometimes for the soul of a people to be humbled by a great
grief.  At no past time had an experience so searching as this come to
the Church at Kensington.  Its pastors had left it for other work and
other spheres.  But this one had died among them; in the very ripeness of
his powers he had passed away.  All the demonstrations of their sorrow
were but a weak expression of what they felt.  And yet there was a
meaning in the visitation; and one cannot doubt that out of their
minister’s cheerful serenity, and calm and tranquil “exodus,” God wrought
for them a quickening of faith.  For of Alexander Raleigh it might well
be said that the “manner of his passing” was an “evidence of the things
unseen.”



VIII—PLANTING A NEW CHURCH—MR. SYMES’ MINISTRY


                  [Picture: Rev. Colmer B. Symes, B.A.]

“GOD buries His workers, but carries on His work.”  It is this faith that
leads a Church, even under the shock of a bereavement as severe as this
one had been, to turn with unabated determination to the prosecution of
the work.  The more nearly a Church of Christ attains the standard of the
Master, the less it depends on any mere human instrumentality for its
success.  It is not the person of the preacher, but the Person of the
Christ and the love of His work, that forms the sacred tie between the
members.  This it is that prevents the work of God from suffering, and
gives permanence to His cause.  It was truly with a sad heart that the
Church assembled at this time to consult about a successor to Dr.
Raleigh; but the claims of “the work” were paramount, and there was a
plain but difficult duty before them.  Our critics are not slow to remind
us that the gravest defect of the Congregational system lies in the fact
that, during the period when a church is without a minister, a system of
competition among rival candidates is pursued, which is humiliating to
the self-respect of those who preach, and calculated to provoke division
and contention among those who sit in judgment.  This evil is, we
believe, being resolutely redressed in most of our Churches to-day, and
the Kensington Church has never suffered from it at any period of its
history.  A trusted committee made careful inquiries with a view to
discovering some minister who seemed to be adapted, alike in character
and abilities, to the special wants of this neighbourhood.  Opportunity
was then sought of introducing him to the pulpit, and if he manifestly
commended himself to the whole Church—and not a mere majority of the
Church—he was invited to become the minister.  This admirable plan has
averted anything like the evils sometimes associated with a change of
pastorate.  In the instance before us the committee’s attention was
directed to the eminently successful ministry of the Rev. Colmer B.
Symes, B.A., of Exeter.  In that corner of England Mr. Symes had most
worthily maintained for several years the office of the Christian
ministry, and had exercised a great power for good.  All who knew him
esteemed him for the loftiness of his Christian character, as well as for
his ministerial gifts.  As a man of culture and wide reading, he seemed
to be conspicuously suited to the special needs of a locality, where the
problems of modern thought occupied the minds of a large proportion of
the population.  Mr. Symes preached at Kensington, with no intention
whatever of being a “candidate”: but as there was an immediate response
to his message, a unanimous invitation was sent to him to become the
pastor of the Church, and in January, 1881, Mr. Symes was recognised as
the minister.  The Church records contain many testimonies to the power
of the ministry thus begun.  The number of Church members steadily grew.
The monthly Church meetings were times of continual rejoicing over
accessions to the ranks of those who had solemnly taken the sacred pledge
of loyalty to Christ.  So high was the spirit of the Church, that, in the
second year of Mr. Symes’ ministry, it was decided vigorously to pursue
the movement, initiated in Dr. Raleigh’s pastorate, of building a new
Congregational church at West Kensington.  Nothing was more
characteristic of the new minister than the cordiality with which he
furthered a scheme that must inevitably diminish, at any rate for a time,
his own Church and congregation.  Thinking, rather, of the necessities of
the rapidly growing neighbourhood of West Kensington, Mr. Symes and his
Church threw themselves nobly into the enterprise.  At a meeting held in
the Vestry Hall, Kensington, it was announced that no less a sum than
£12,084 had been promised, and the whole cost of over £15,000 was raised
at the opening of the church.

 [Picture: West Kensington Congregational Church.  From Photo. by Mr. S.
                                  Davie]

Not thirty years had passed since the opening of Allen Street Chapel, but
the new church at West Kensington would seem to indicate a remarkable
change in taste and idea as regards the character of ecclesiastical
buildings.  It is a conspicuously handsome building, with a massive
central tower, a chancel, and a general elegance of structure not
unworthy to rank among the very best of modern Nonconformist Church
edifices.  We are all of us familiar with the natural law which leads
parents to be far more lavish in expenditure for their children than for
themselves.  We are consequently not surprised to find that the Church at
Allen Street spent twice as much on a building for this child of its own
training as it did on the building in which the mother Church still
worships.  At a special Church meeting, that strikingly recalls the
moving and interesting gathering when the first branch Church removed
from Kensington to Notting Hill, nearly thirty members took a farewell of
Allen Street, and went to the new and difficult work of building up a
strong church in West Kensington; and with them went naturally a
considerable number of seat-holders, supported in their action by the
generous encouragement of the Allen Street minister.  Thus the second
colony was planted from the mother Church.  She had given lavishly of her
own life and treasure for the enrichment of others; and by the eternal
law of the Cross she reaped her reward in the fuller and deeper life
bestowed upon those who remained.  There only remains to add that, after
years of hard and discouraging labour, the new Church appears to be
slowly and steadily rooting itself, and to be destined to become a
spiritual power in the locality.

Uneventful years followed.  Those who best know the character of modern
Kensington are best able to appreciate the difficulty there is of
gathering a strong evening congregation.  With his previous successful
experience at Exeter so fresh in his memory, it is no wonder that Mr.
Symes felt, even more acutely than many do who are called to minister in
the West of London, this grave discouragement to the preacher.  Many of
his expedients to meet the difficulty were for a time successful.
Largely-attended evangelistic services were periodically held; but the
permanent evening congregation did not grow.  Still more serious a
problem to one of Mr. Symes’ intensely earnest temperament was the
decline in the number of those who were led to public acknowledgment of a
change of life.  He could not reconcile his own conception of what
justifies a ministry in any place with the absence of this note of
success; and hence, in a characteristically beautiful letter to the
Church in March, 1887, he placed his resignation in their hands.  The
remarkable meeting at which the congregation presented to Mr. Symes a
large portrait in oils of himself, and an illuminated address, was the
occasion of a demonstration of the affection and regard in which he was
universally held.  There have been resignations of ministers who have
been determined in their action by a variety of considerations that have
led them to give the preference to one sphere of labour over another.
But surely the highest of all considerations is contained in so deep a
sense of the spiritual mission of the minister, and in so lofty an ideal
of his work, that even a qualified response to the public and private
ministrations suggests that a continuance of the ministry may cause the
interests of the Kingdom to suffer.  The Kensington Church had had many
lessons before this time, from those who had made great and cheerful
sacrifices for its interests; but such a lesson was never taught it with
more of real Christian dignity and chivalry than when Mr. Symes laid down
the office of minister; thus ending a six years’ pastorate for which very
many of the congregation to-day continue to thank God.



IX—A NOTABLE INTERVAL—REV. EDWARD WHITE


          [Picture: Rev. Edward White.  From Photo. by Mr. Best]

AT the time of Mr. Symes’ resignation, the present minister of the church
was a freshman at College, and a good deal more occupied with studies and
athletics than with any question of settling in the ministry.  It was not
really a surprising thing to those who knew the traditions of Kensington
Chapel, that a Church that had chosen John Clayton when he was
twenty-one, and that had waited for Mr. Leifchild until he had completed
his college course, should elect to wait nearly two years for its present
minister.  The course was an unusual one, but it had one conspicuous
advantage.  It enabled the Church to enjoy for eighteen months the
ministry of the Rev. Edward White.  It is unnecessary to explain to any
one who knows any thing of Congregationalism, or the history of
theological thought during the last half century, who Mr. Edward White
is.  There had been a time when he was suspected and misunderstood, for
having interpreted the teaching of Scripture on one point in a sense
different from the majority of his brethren.  But we live in happier
days, when our joy is to dwell rather on our substantial unity than on
points of different interpretation.  Mr. White has won the recognition of
the whole Catholic Church as a stalwart standard-bearer in the “good
fight of faith”; and great was the satisfaction at Kensington, when one
who was just retiring from an arduous and remarkable ministry at Kentish
Town was willing to give himself to the superintendence of the work at
Kensington, until the minister-elect had completed his college training.

The result of this arrangement was exceedingly happy.  We believe Mr.
White was rewarded by the multitude of new friends that he thus made; and
the congregation was abundantly rewarded, not only by the steady advance
in interest that was made during the time of Mr. White’s ministry, but by
the securing for itself of the sympathy and affection of such a friend as
Mr. White has been.  The young men remember to-day with the keenest
relish the good times they had in Mr. White’s Bible Class; and, indeed,
he has only to appear among us to evoke the loudest demonstrations of
welcome.  But in nothing did his loving and genial spirit appear more
characteristically than in his relations with the one who was appointed
to succeed him in the ministry at Kensington.  The writer of this book
records here the lasting debt of gratitude he is under to Mr. White for
tender and helpful counsel and loving encouragement, such as he can never
cease to remember with filial reverence and thankfulness.

The minister of a Church such as ours is always interested in discovering
the “deposit” of well-remembered sayings and stories of the various
ministers and prominent laymen that have been associated with the place.
There grows up in this way a kind of Rabbinical tradition; and you can
often estimate the force of character in a minister by the way in which
people treasure up the memories of what he said and did.  Mr. White added
materially to the oral tradition of Kensington.  His racy sayings, his
epigrams, his reminiscences, are constantly recalled and repeated.  And
his successor has formed a very vivid conception of that genial and
delightful ministry by which Mr. White attached to himself so warmly the
hearts of this congregation.

But one most significant new departure must be remembered.  Many are the
strangers who visit us to-day who are greatly impressed with the
successful blending in our service of general audible prayer, with the
more individual prayer by the minister.  They share with us the feeling,
that to encourage an outward and audible expression of our worship is to
cultivate the worshipful attitude of heart and soul.  Nonconformists have
too long thrown the whole burden of the service on the preacher, and not
sufficiently elicited from the congregation the full expression of their
feelings in prayer and praise.  The new warmth that has come to our
services at Allen Street, and the increased heartiness of them, is very
largely due to the introduction of certain simple and comprehensive forms
of worship and prayer, in which we can all unite with heart and soul.
This most admirable system was initiated by Mr. White, who expressed
himself as being quite willing to bear the burden of any temporary
unpopularity of the change.  The unpopularity was certainly never great,
and has to-day given way to a very strong and general satisfaction.

Resolutions are apt to read coldly,—indeed, they are apt not to be read
at all,—but when, at a large meeting of the Church and congregation to
say farewell to Mr. White, on the completion of his eighteen months’
ministry, the people unanimously and enthusiastically declared that “he
had been honoured to become the channel of blessings which this Church
would ever acknowledge and keep in memory,” every word was as hearty as
it was true.  On October 17th, 1889, Mr. White presided at his
successor’s ordination, and said to the assembled people: “In delivering
up this sacred office, I shall humbly join my prayers with yours for
God’s best blessing to rest on my dear successor, and on yourselves, whom
he will love the more the longer he lives among you, and the more
self-denyingly he serves you.”  To which that successor may be allowed to
write his own emphatic declaration that it has been true.



X—“TO BE CONTINUED”—THE PRESENT PASTORATE {147}


      [Picture: C. Silvester Horne.  By kind permission of Mr. H. S.
                               Mendelssohn]

THE retirement of a pastor so universally beloved as Mr. Symes left the
Church in a position of some perplexity, from which it was to be rescued
less by its own wisdom than by the manifest leading of Providence.  For
more than sixty years the congregation had welcomed to its pastorate
ministers already enjoying reputations acquired in other Churches; and in
the eyes of many this practice had acquired the authority of a
traditionary rule.  And it seems almost certain that, if any of the
established ministers whom the Church would have been glad to call would
have accepted what was recognised as an onerous charge, the traditions of
1825–80 would have been honoured by continued observance.  But it was
otherwise ordained.  While as yet no one seems to have remembered how Dr.
Leifchild came to Hornton Street fresh from his tutor, Mr. Charles
Silvester Horne, a student only half through his theological course at
Mansfield College, Oxford, came to Kensington as an ordinary pulpit
supply, and preached with so much acceptance that request was made,—but
without any ulterior view,—that he might be sent again.  He had preached
only a very few times, however, when it became evident that he was not
only making a strong impression on the existing congregation, but
attracting new hearers.  It was noticed that, while the freshness and
simplicity of his preaching, aided by a genial personality, drew simple
natures, and especially the young, around him, the confidence of the
elders was gained by the unexpected depth and maturity of his sermons;
and then it was that the suppressed thought of many at length found
simultaneous utterance, and the question was asked whether this was not
the kind of minister most suited to the wants of the Kensington
congregation.

Inquiries were made, and then it was ascertained that Mr. Horne had still
eighteen months of his course at Mansfield to complete, and that of these
Dr. Fairbairn would not abate even a week.  By this time, however, the
Church had made up its mind, and unanimously offered to pledge itself to
call Mr. Horne in due form at the end of a year and a half, if he, in his
turn, would engage to come to Kensington at that date, and also visit the
congregation in the meantime as often as he could.  This arrangement was
made, together with a further and supplementary one with the Rev. Edward
White, who had just left Kentish Town, and who kindly undertook the
pastoral oversight of the Church till the autumn of 1889.  In this way,
as was pleasantly observed at the time, Kensington at once secured the
services of “the youngest old man and the oldest young man in the
Congregational body.”  Mr. White more than fulfilled the expectations of
the congregation, and in the brief period of his service established
himself permanently in the affections of the congregation, while he
prepared the way for the coming of his young successor.

Mr. Horne was ordained at Kensington in October 1889, the venerable Dr.
Stoughton, Dr. Fairbairn, and Dr. Dale, with the Revs. E. White, R. F.
Horton, and W. Roberts, taking part in the services.  This is not the
time to speak at large of a pastorate so recently begun, but it is not
too soon to say that the hopes on which the Kensington Church acted five
years ago have been justified by experience.  Congregations were never
larger; the young are being gathered and organised in guilds as well for
instruction and work as for social purposes; the young members of the
Church meet regularly for spiritual edification.  The London Missionary
Society and other agencies external to the congregation are supported
with the old constancy and liberality, and the Church itself is as united
as ever in purpose and heart.



XI—Epilogue


                 [Picture: Kensington Chapel (interior)]

A MINISTER may surely be excused for writing “once more, in conclusion,”
after the “lastly” of Chapter IX.  He is, however, quite prepared to see
the reader grow indifferent or uneasy, under the impression that the
epilogue has been dragged in with the ulterior intention of pointing a
moral.  The story has been told; what need can there be to prolong it?
But so hardened has the writer become that he unmercifully proceeds to
have his own way—a bad habit, into which a too-indulgent congregation has
injudiciously trained him.  The perusal of our simple records is
calculated to confirm the faith of us all in the possibilities of a
Church of Jesus Christ.  Dr. Stoughton likes to say that the Church here
was never asked for money when it did not meet the request; and, perhaps,
that is the least of all its gifts.  Its chronicler lays down the pen
with the thankful conviction that it has ever given a place in its heart
and in its practical sympathy to any really worthy and beneficent object.
Its controversies have been conducted in honourable Christian fashion,
and where its convictions have been deep its efforts have been
unremitting.  Perhaps the truest test of a Church is in the men and women
it makes and influences.  Kensington Chapel has been associated with many
eminent and brilliant names.  Lawyers such as Mr. Justice Talfourd,
statesmen such as Mr. Henry Richard, physicians such as Sir Risdon
Bennett, authors such as Dr. Samuel Smiles and Robert Alfred Vaughan, as
well as Royal Academicians and influential writers for the public press,
have united here in common worship.  And lest we should be overwhelmed,
and unduly sobered, by so great a weight of dignity, was there not once
an editor of _Punch_ as a member of the congregation?  Who will say of us
that our Puritan manners are irreconcilable with a love of humour!

“Diversity of ministrations but the same spirit” seems to have been the
law of Apostolical succession in this Church.  The ministers have been
very unlike one another; but there has been a great substance of truth
which they have preached, and an unbroken unity of purpose and aim.
Those who think a Church needs thirty-nine articles to ensure the unity
of the spirit will please make a note of this.

The Church has been distinguished for its readiness of adjustment to new
opportunities and occasions.  The development of modern London has drawn
Kensington from its position of a secluded proximity to the City, into
actual organic union with it.  All the problems of London to-day are
ours.  We are no longer outside of it.  Our life is Metropolitan.  The
change has been faced by the Church with a frank recognition and a
cheerful courage.  It has acknowledged practically the claims of poorer
London on its liberality and sympathy; and it is resolutely addressing
itself to discover its own distinctive mission to the poverty and misery
of other neighbourhoods.

It was clearly not for nothing that the idea of the Church emerged slowly
but surely out of the looser conceptions of association for the purpose
of managing the business affairs connected with a place of worship.
God’s hand was in it all, as we can so clearly see to-day; and in process
of the years the great ideal of a Christian Brotherhood—an ideal which is
not new, but old—has laid hold of the thought and imagination of the
people.  Dr. Edwin Hatch, the most original ecclesiastical historian of
this generation, said in memorable words, “the unaccomplished mission of
the Christian Church is to reconstruct society on the basis of
brotherhood.”  Towards that reconstruction every Christian community that
tries to realise its brotherhood in Christ contributes something.

At the beginning of the century whose record we have reviewed, Missionary
Societies were just beginning, Sunday Schools were in their infancy, and
the great catalogue of benevolent and philanthropic societies that stand
on the Church’s list was all unknown.  Thus the work of one hundred years
makes us exceedingly hopeful.  Our experience is all in our favour.  And
after having lived and grown through a century of time, it is possible
for us, as a Church, to approximate to that ideal where there are blended
the ripeness and maturity of autumn with the freshness and buoyancy of
spring.

                                * * * * *

                                * * * * *

 _Printed by Hazell_, _Watson_, _& Viney_, _Ld._, _London and Aylesbury_.



FOOTNOTES


{36}  Mr. William Holborn, our Church Secretary, informs me that the cup
with handles is the original communion cup.  It is made of lustred
pewter.  When the number of communicants increased, one of the deacons
remembered that he had a cup at home which was suitable for the purpose.
He accordingly produced the second cup, which bears underneath it the
words “a friend of the cause.”  The metal of which this cup is made is
matter of conjecture.

{147}  By a Member of the Congregation.





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