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Chapel, and 14 in the new Church-becoming a Retired Unitarian Minister ” for the remainder of his years. In his farewell sermon he warmly expressed his grateful and heart. felt appreciation of the great kindness, consideration, and assistance, always shown to him, both personally and unitedly, by all the members of his congregation.
In his retirement, while adhering to the Unitarian Christianity of a Channing, he looks for the “Church of the Future”-not in the extreme Revival of the ecclesiastical Ritualism of Archbishop Laud, or the maintenance of a Dominant Nonconformity, partaking of the masterful spirit of the Westminster Assembly, but rather in the Apostolic Catholic Union of Broad-minded Churchmen and a largely soul'd” Dissenters, accepting, in the spirit of good Richard Baxter, the common Apostolic Faith, the Lord's Prayer, and Ten Commandments, as the credentials of Christian worship and Communion :
“Our little systems have their day ;
They have their day and cease to be :
They are but broken lights of thee,
Tennyson's “ In Memoriam."
REV. WILLIAM STEPHENS.
[Ed. Western College, Plymouth ; min. (Congregtional) 1880-1887 ; (Unitarian) London, Stepney, 1887-1888 ; Southampton 1888-1892 ; Filby with Gt. Yarmouth, 1892-1894 ; Rotherham, 1894.
His Own HISTORY.
Y earliest recollections take me back to the time
when I went, hand in hand, with my elder brother,
to a Wesleyan Sunday School in Newport, Mon. I might have remained a Methodist until this day, but a turn in Fortune's wheel, for which I shall never cease to be grateful, changed me into a little Congregationalist. There is more sturdy and robust Nonconformity in Congregationalism than in Methodism. It is, I believe, a fact, that the ranks of the Unitarians are recruited more from Congregationalists than from any other religious body. I am, therefore, thankful to have stepped in childhood from Methodism into Congregationalism, because, while I was still breathing the atmosphere of Trinitarian orthodoxy, I was where occasional whiffs of purer air could reach me. Unitarianism has been to me the Ararat on which rested all that was worth saving from the deluge.
The second stage in my journey embraces, what is, in some respects, the most important period in any human life, viz., that ranging from about the age of six to the closing of the teens. I went to Sunday School and to chapel regularly. I liked going. I seldom thought of staying away, I had a religious home. Family worship was conducted every night by my father, my brother, or myself, when all knelt down to thank God for his blessings during the day, to ask him to forgive our sins, to give light to those who were in darkness,
to bring every wanderer home. I gave a great deal of time to religion at this period. I used to go to prayer-meeting at 7 o'clock on Sunday morning, to school at 9, to chapel at 11, to school again at 2, to prayer.meeting at 5-30, to chapel at 6, with a prayer-meeting after the service. On Monday I was at a prayer-meeting again. On Wednesday we had a service, and on Saturday evening another prayer-meeting for the young. I have never regretted the religious earnestness of my youth. I do not remember having thought of theology at this time, so as to ask any questions about it. I had not so much as heard of Unitarianism. There was no Unitarian Church in the town; nor were there any lectures on Unitarianism frightening orthodox folk. I had grown up in the belief, that the Bible was a supernatural revelation, the infallible word of God, the beginning and the end and the whole of God's thought to man. I also had the impression that, to disbelieve this, would be to place myself in the gravest peril of being lost eternally. I had heard of the doctrines of the Fall, the Trinity, the Deity of Christ, the Incarnation, the Atonement, Salvation by the blood and merits of Christ, and everlasting perdition in Hell for those who rejected the “Scheme of Salvation,” but these doctrines had not taken root in my mind as intelligent convictions.
The third stage in my journey may be outlined by the six years I spent at the Western College, Plymouth. My brother was already there. I went to college. I suppose, to have Trinitarian Christianity thoroughly established in my mind. It so happened, that college life produced the very opposite effect. I was now compelled to think. The tutor, though orthodox in the main, was a broad-minded man. He expounded to us the opinions of Herbert Spencer and Darwin and Huxley and Tyndall, who were, at the time, startling the orthodox camp with the theory of Evolution. He opened a new world to me, and I shall ever be grateful for the glimpses given into the philosophy of religion, by those lectures on Evolution. They have since made the old faith impossible, though they were inended to confirm it. We had abundance of dogmatic theology, consisting of the doctrines
doctrines already enumerated, to build up the Trinitarian edifice. These lectures were both expositions and defences. They did more