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“ The Immortal hangs liis languid brow,
The Almighty faints beneath his load “ Call us not unbelievers because we refuse to believe an impossibility, that a God died, who is described by the great Apostle as Eternal, Immortal, and Invisible. Tim. i. 7."
Mr. Harding's Journal of a Missionary Tour in the West
of England. Sir,
Cranbrook, June 17, 1826. Ir you should think the following account of my Missionary labours in the west of England will be acceptable to your numerous readers, and in the smallest degree useful to the cause of divine trutlı, the insertion of the same in the Christian Reformer, will oblige yours,
M. HARDING. My connexion with the Kent and Sussex Unitarian Association (after acting as Missionary for 4 years in the two counties, during which I travelled, chiefly on foot, nearly 7000 miles, and preached nearly 700 times, with a success which proves, that Unitarianisın needs only the support and hearty co-operation of its real friends, to secure a glorious triumph over ignorance, superstition, and vice), being dissolved for want of sufficient funds, I accepted an invitation from the Somerset and Dorset Unitarian Association, to act as their Missionary for 6 months, and proceeded forthwith to the west of England, and arrived safely at Taunton, Nov 12, 1825. The next day, being Sunday, preached three times. The congregation is respectable in nuinbers, character, and property; as are indeed all the congregations in this part of the west.
Tuesday 15th, proceeded to Ilminster and Crewkerne, but did not preach at either of the above places, the friends not deeming it prudent to open their chapels on week evenings. I then travelled to Bridport, preached there Thursday evening 17th, and Sunday morning 20th, to rather large congregations. After the morning service, went to Crewkerne, and preached there in the evening to a comparatively large and serious company. Tuesday 22nd, walked to Ilminsier. Mr. Wbitfield the worthy Unitarian minister here, conceiving he had made arrangements / for preaching the next evening at Chard, a populous manufacturing town, 13 miles S. S. E. of Taunton, I immediately proceeded thither, but on my arrival was disappointed, not being able to procure a room. The place it was supposed I should have occupied, belongs to a few individuals late in connexion
with the Rev. Mr. Baring, who contend that “the perfection.
to a very large congregation. 22nd, at Wellington, and 26th, in the morning at Crewkerne, and the afternoon and evening at Ilminster, to uncommonly large companies, the evening congregation amounting to not less than 600. This increase, under God, is to be mainly attributed to the zealous exertions of two pious and respectable young females, who, to their honour be it spoken, actually traversed the town, leaving printed notice papers at the respective houses. Thursday evening, March 2nd, and Sunday 5th, preached three times at Bridport, to the usual number. Monday 6th, walked to Ilminster, a distance of 21 miles, being one of the most tempestuous days I ever travelled in. This journey was undertaken for the purpose of officiating at the funeral of a Unitarian minister's widow. Having performed this engagement, I proceeded to Bridgewater, and Sunday 12th, preached there three times, to larger congregations -than common. 15th, preached the last time at Wellington, and on the 19th, three times at Taunton. In the evening had the pleasure of concluding in the presence of a large congregation, a course of twelve Lectures, by different Ministers, which I trust will be productive of great and lasting good.
In consequence of an invitation from the Committee of the Wilts and North Somerset Association, to preach their annual serion, I left Taunton for Bristol, March 22nd, and arrived there in the evening. The next day proceeded to Frenchay. The next morning preached the Association sermon, to a large congregation, especially considering the unfavourable state of the weather. After the devotional service and the business of the meeting were concluded, the company retired to an inn, two miles distant, sat down to a good plain dinner, in number about sixty-two, and spent the afternoon in a highly pleasing and profitable manner. The next morning travelled to Bath, and in company with a worthy and zealous young friend walked to Marshfield, a small town in Gloucestershire, where there is a tolerably good old meeting-house with a small endowment, both of which would have fallen into the hands of the Independents (who seem to make a merit of depriving us of our places of worship) but for the commendable zeal and perseverance of two resident ladies, in conjunction with the Committee of the Wilts and North Somerset Association. This, with other instances, demonstrates the vast utility of provincial Associations and active Committees. Sunday 26tli, preached twice here to very small congregations. The interest at Marshfield is at present very low; but the zeal and prudence of the friends and Committee, will, by the blessing of God, infuse new life. Tuesday 28th, proceeded to Calne, in Wiltshire, once the residence of the venerable Dr. Priestley, and preached there the next evening to a toler:ble company. Here also, the interest is very low, but with a fair prospect of being revived, if the friends there do but heartily co-operate with their Association, which, it is to be
hoped, they will see both their duty and interest. Friday travelled to Trowbridge, and on the following Sunday morning, April 2nd, preached at Bradford, (three miles from the above,) to a small company; and in the afternoon and evening at Trow bridge, to rather large congregations. Here the aged, but inde fatigable R. Wright labours, walking six miles and preaching three times every Sunday. His settlement in the west is of considerable importance to our great and good cause, and should his life and health be preserved, and that they may be, aud for many years to come, should be, and I trust is, the earnest wish and prayer of every real friend to the extension of the kyowledge of evangelical truth, his abode in that part of the kingdoin will, under the Divine blessing, be attended with still more pleasing and beneficial results. Friday 7tb, travelled to Frenchay, in the vicinity of Bristol, and preached there twice the next Sunday to a small and attentive congregation. This very pleasant neighbourhood, appears to ine, after visiting it several times, a very desirable spot for Missionary exertions, it being situated within one and two miles of several populous villages,
Tuesday 11th, travelled in company with the zealous secretary of the Wilts and North Somerset Association, to Thornbury, in Gloucestershire. Here existed for many years a Presbyterian interest, and, judging from the last minister, Antitrinitarian.
Bụt the meeting house, with an endowment by no means in. considerable, has fallen into the hands of the Independents. wednesday went with a friend to Rangeworthy, a pleasant vil. lage about four miles from the above, for the purnose of visitina an old and liberal-minded minister, who from his knowledge of Thornbury, and friendship of the late Presbyterian minister, could, no doubt, have furnished me with much valuable information, but he was from home, and not expected back again for a day or two. Being denied the pleasure of seeing the good old man, I left a few tracts for his perusal. Thursday 13th, returned to Frenchay, and spent the next Sunday with the friends of that place. Tuesday 18th, proceeded to Bath, joined Messrs. Howse and Martin, and the next day travelled to Nailsworth, a populous manufacturing district about two miles from Stroud. On our arrival there, we immediately set about getting a room to preach in, which after wuch inquiry, and no in, considerable trouble, we at length procured. "This object obtained, no time was lost in making our intention to preach, the next evening, as public as possible; we did this by first retiring
to our inn and filling up the notice papers, then we divided the neighbourhood into three parts, and the next morning repaired to our respective stations, and distributed the, notices. Thurs: day evening 20th, I had the honour of preaching the first Unitarian sermon in this part of the county, to a large and attentive congregation, to whom we gave a number of tracts, which were gladly received. Friday evening, my excellent young friend, S.
Martin, late Missionary in Cornwall, preached to a larger com. pany than the preceding, on which occasion we again distributed tracts. Perceiving such a desire to hear, such a willingness to attend, it was determined, agreeably to a previous arrangement, that I should continue there over Sunday, and it was immediately announced that there would be preaching Sunday morning and evening: Sunday morning 23rd, about forty assembled, notwithstanding the church and chapels were open at the same time. In the evening the place was filled almost to suffocation, besides a considerable number who could not get in. I never in my life saw any people behave better, or listen with more attention, not excepting even those around the door and windows. When about to give away the tracts, such was the eagerness to obtain them, that they had well nigh overturned my pulpit, consisting of an old table. Several inquiries were made as to when we should come again.
From all I have been able to observe, and I have seen much to gratify me, not the least of which is an instructed population, young and old, so far as I could discover, being able to read, this part of the country presents an admirable field for Unitarian Missionary exertions; and the Committee of the Wilts and North Somerset Association, whom it more immediately concerns, will do well to direct its principal energies to this spot. Tuesday 25th, returned to Bath and met the Committee, where arrangements were made, in consequence of my report, for regu. larly supplying Nailsworth with preachers.
Wednesday, proceeded to Marshfield in company with Mr. Martin, who is now minister of the place, and in the evening preached to about fifty persons. The cause here appears gradu. ally improving, and will no doubt continue to improve, if the piety and zeal of the friends do but keep pace with the prudent management of their worthy young Minister and the Commit. tee at Bath. Sunday 30th, preached at Frenchay in the morning, and at Bristol for Dr. Carpenter in the evening. Here my engagement with the Dorset and Somerset Association ended, and, their funds not allowing them to renew it, I proceeded on Monday to Taunton, and after taking leave of my friends, returned home, where I arrived safely on Saturday evening, after an absence of six months.
North Eastern Unitarian Association. The North Eastern Association of Unitarian Christians was holden at Lynn, on Thursday, the 29th of June, and was respectably attended by ministers and friends from the congregations in connexion. Mr. Edward Tagart, of the Octagon Chapel, Norwich, preached an excellent and appropriate discourse, in the morning, from Gal. v. 1, after which the business of the