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development of man in his conscience, and love, and faith, and patience, and mercy, and hope.

Well may our poet sing, of such a philosophy

"The babe is wise

That weepeth being born."

Again, Gautama's ultimate future of goodness is wholly unsatisfactory. As against Brahminism, which sinks the monad into the being of God, he professes to preserve the monad, but it is a fanciful preservation after all. The description is mostly in negatives, and its best positive description is only this: "The dew drop

Slips into the shining sea."

But the true Christian thought of the future-of the immortality of the individual character, in service and freedom forever, in mansions of a Father's house, prepared for you, and you, and you, whose occupants are neither dissolved into a glorified humanity, nor lost in the being of an absorbing Deity; Oh! how much dearer and brighter and more elevating it is than the chilly perhaps of nirvana! The hope of heaven, which Buddha calls a sin, has to us become a virtue and a spring of purification and blessing.

A short time ago, a brilliant young Englishman, Prof. Clifford, died, and there were buried in his grave many hopes and promises. His scientific learning was acute, and his achievements remarkable, despite a certain flippancy in his writings which were not fitting to the serious subjects of his essays. He lapsed from the church of England into the extreme of materialism. He prepared his own epitaph in view of his death, and it is now cut upon his tombstone. It is this: "I was not; I lived; I loved; I am not." That is the epitaph of agnosticism. Buddhism does better. It writes: "I had predecessors in my existence. I lived a bird of the wilderness, a tiger of the jungles, a forester and a king, and my lives were all rounds of sorrow, and I go on to other lives of sorrow, and at last I hope a dew drop to slip into some shining sea." Christianity writes: "My Father God made me in his image: I lived, and loved, and served. I shall awake in His likeness, and shall live, and love, and serve, and worship, in reunions of dear companionships and sweet love, forever and forever."

And now I have only skimmed over the surface of this beautiful lake. The study of our subject, as of comparative religion generally, brings us to new grounds of rejoicing in the discoveries of the wide reign of truth, and new grounds of love and devotion to Him who is the fullness of truth and love.


Two General Synods or Councils of all the Congregational churches in North America were held in the years 1637 and 1646 respectively. The first consisted of about nineteen churches, and was called to condemn certain erroneous opinions and "unwholesome expressions" then prevalent, which same it did. The second, composed of fifty-three churches, framed the Cambridge Platform and consented to the Westminster Confession of Faith for the substance thereof. These two Councils were small enough in numbers, were only "general" in that none were excluded, and were called for definite purposes, which they fulfilled and to which they strictly limited themselves.

From 1648, when, after two adjournments, the Cambridge Synod was dissolved, no General Council was held for a period of 204 years. In October, 1852, "A Convention of Ministers and Delegates of Congregational churches in the United States," assembled at Albany, in response to an invitation from the General Association of New York, and continued in session during four days. It had before it two special subjects for its consideration (1) aid to feeble churches in the erection of houses of worship; (2) the questions arising from the "Plan of Union," the continuance of which it declared to be inexpedient. The Council was composed of 463 members, and the number of churches in the United States was about 2,000, and they were spread all over the West-even to California and Oregon.

In 1864, "the Convention of the Congregational churches. of the Northwest," which was organized with special reference to the interests of the Chicago Theological Seminary, voted that the crisis arising from the changes produced by the war, demanded that a National Congregational Convention should be held. The General Association of Illinois issued the first formal call for such a convention, and the call being forwarded to the General Associations and Conferences throughout the

country, met with an almost unanimous approval by these bodies, who appointed committees to represent them at calling the proposed convention. These committees met at New York in November, 1864. They voted that the call for the convention suggest the following topics: (1.) Home and foreign evangelization. (2.) Church building. (3.) Ministerial education and support. (4.) Local and parochial evangelization. (5.) A statement of church polity. (6.) A declaration of Christian faith, as held in common by the Congregational churches. (7.) Classification of benevolent organizations to be recommended to the benevolence of the churches. To the consideration of these topics the council was quite carefully limited, and upon them it made recommendations and gave advice. The sessions were held at Boston, June 14th to 24th, 1865.

"On the approach of the two hundred and fiftieth anniversary of the landing of the Pilgrims, the church at Plymouth, Mass., invited the churches to meet by delegates at New York, to consider the appropriateness of particular action in celebrating this fifth jubilee." The meeting was held on the second of March, 1870. A "Pilgrim Memorial Convention" was called, to be held at Chicago, Illinois, April 27th, of the same year, open to delegates from all the Congregational churches of the United States. That convention, by resolution, recommended to the Congregational State Conferences and Associations, and to other local bodies, to unite in measures for instituting "on the principle of fellowship, excluding ecclesiastical authority, a permanent National Conference."

The several State organizations, led by Ohio, approved the plan and appointed committees, which met in Boston, December 21st, 1870. In this meeting, five of the New England States were represented by twenty-four delegates, and six other States by eleven delegates. They unanimously voted to organize a National Council, invited the churches to meet by delegates to form such an organization, and arranged for the numerical basis of representation. They also appointed a committee to draft a constitution, instructing them (1.) to adopt the above name; (2.) to take the Declaration of Faith, set forth by the Boston Council at Plymouth, in 1865, for a

doctrinal basis; (3) to emphasize the two points of self-government and fellowship; (4) to withhold from the National Council all legislative or judicial power over churches or individuals, and all right to act as a Council of Reference; (5) to set forth its objects as "to express and foster substantial unity in doctrine, polity, and work, and to consult upon the common interests of all the churches, their duties in the work of evangelization, the united development of their resources, and their relations to all parts of the kingdom of Christ."

In response to the call of this committee, The National Council of the Congregational churches of the United States held its first session at Oberlin, Ohio, November 15th, 1871. It was composed of delegates from Associations, Conferences, and Conventions in twenty-five States and Territories, also from seven benevolent societies and three Theological Seminaries. Papers were read and addresses made in regard to the various departments of evangelizing work.

Apart from matters pertaining to its own organization and business, resolutions were passed commending to the churches the work of the various societies, advising that certain specified amounts be raised for each. A committee was also appointed to report at the next session in regard to the consolidation of these societies, and authorized to investigate, when desired to do so, the merits of such special objects, and give to the churches the advantage of their judgment in regard to the merits and importance of each. They appointed a special committee to arrange with the American Home Missionary Society a plan for coöperation with the State organizations.

In regard to doctrine and polity, the Oberlin Council advised the Congregational Publishing Society to complete as speedily as practicable, the publication of a Manual of Doctrine and Polity, understood to be in process of preparation, and appointed a committee of five, to whom the work might be submitted for approval, and whose approbation might give it currency, not as a book of binding authority, but as a means of general instruction. The Council made a declaration in regard to the duty of ministers to be in orderly connection with some ministerial or ecclesiastical organization, which should be able to certify to their regular standing in the ministry, urging

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