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BALA INDEPENDENT COLLEGE.
continued existence and increasing prosperity to the high character and personal qualinca- tions of the Tutors and the generous contri- butions" of a Society of Subscribers by whom the expenses are paid. It is precisely such a voluntary Institution ss any Minister and group of Subscribers might at any time or place set up; all Ministers among the In- dependents being free to open a Theological School when and where they think proper, and all Laymen being equally free to form Societies for the encouragement and support of Schools and Colleges without let or hindrance from any Ecclesiastical Authority or Superior. This Independent College, as it is now called, bearan as a very small Academy under the late Rev Michael Jones with a very few students. On his death it was continued by his son, the Rev M. D. Jones, single-handed, under whose presidency it has gradually and steadily grown in every way. There are now about 40 students and a staff of 3 professors. The Society of Subscribers are now up- wards of 4,000 in number, residing in various parts of England and Wales. Such a numerous and scattered Society could not conveniently hold Annual Meetings for the Election of its Executive Committee, &c. This inconvenience is obviated by the 2nd Rule of the Society, which provides that its Committee for any year shall consist of (1) All Members of the Society who shall subscribe 5s or upwards [in that year], and (2) the representatives of Congre- gations who shall [during the same period] collect XI or more towards the Fund. A printed Report of the Committee for the year 1875-76, containing the Rules and Regulations, accompanies this Case. Some years since, owinj to the growing prosperity of the College, the Principal con- ceived the idea of raising a Fund for the erec- tion of a Collegiate Building, to consist of large and airy Class Rooms, Library, Students' Room and Tutors' Residences, such a Building as might compare favourably with the Calvinistic Z, College close by. In pursuance of that idea, a Building Fund of several thousand pounds was collected in America and in this country through the exertions of a few zealous friends. A printed Report of the Building Fund, from 1870 to October 1876, accompanies this Case. It is to be observed that the Building Fund was collected without any notice or hint of an intention to alter the free and liberal constitution of the College.. No such intention had then entered into any one's mind. so far ss is known; but an attempt has since been made to impose upon the Society and its property a Constitution widely different from thit under which the money was collected and on the faith of which Donations were made. A Docume.nt called "The New Constitu- tion of the College" is seat with this Case for Counsel's perusal. It will be observed that the New Consti- tution imposes a Creed and a Test as a quali- fication for office. Any Member of the Society who may claim the right to vote it a Meeting of the Committee may be subjected to an In- quisition as to his Religious Belief He may be asked the Ritualistic question whether an infant may be lawfully baptised. If he con- descends to answer and replies "No," or "I doubt/' he will be expelled from the njeet'ng, although he may be the largest subscriber and may be the chief supporter of an Independent Church; if he replies "Yes," he may be further asked whether he has taken the Sacrament; and if he has not, he cannot be Treasurer, or Secretary, or Auditor, or be a Member of the Committee. This Rule is an exact counterpart of the Test and Corporation Acts of detestable memory. The New Constitution" further attempts to rob a voluntary Society of Sub- scribers of control over their own funds and affairs, by giving to certain conclaves of half priestly pretensions called County Unions (not one of whjm may bs a, Subscriber) a right to nominate an Executive Sub Committee who are to be armcckwith the despotic power of suspending the Tutors at will, and with other extraordinary authorities. It is certain that many of the Sub- scribers to the Building Fund would have given nothing to a. new College having so repulsive a Constitution in the place of t. e old Institution. There is a small but powerful party amongst the Independents who are zealous for centralization; they want to organise the Denominational forces so as to bring every- thing under the control of a central authority (contrary to the fundamental principles of Congregutionalism) and as a step in this di- rection they lose no opportunity of giving importance and powers to the County Unions and try to accustom the Laity to submit to the authority of those self-constituted Bodies The ministers who attend the Unions (with many honourable exceptions) are too ready to acccpt any such dignities when offered. Their vanity is thereby flattered and their sense of importance magnified. The consequence is that the organising schemes of the ambitious few are popular with many of the weaker brethren. The so-called "New Constitution of the College (obviously devised in the interests of centralization) was first submitted to a Meet- ing of Deleg tes from the County Unions and adopted by them. How this was brought about is explained in the next paragraph. At a Meeting of the College Committee (i. e. the Executive Committee of the Society of Subscribers) a Resolution was proposed to refer the affairs of the College to another Committee to consist of Delegates to be elected by the County Unions above referred to. Those Unions have nothing to do with the College and can have no right to control or meddle with the contributions of a voluntary Association of Subscribers. The proposal to refer the business of the Committee to them was protested against; but the Resolution was carried. The Unions eagerly accepted the office, and their chosen Delegates sub- scquently met on an appointed day at Shrews- bury, and there and then the New Constitu- tion of the College" was concocted and carried by a majority. The New Constitution" in its last and crowning clause, purports to give un- limited power to the Committee to change the Name and Locality of the College ft pleasure, that is, power to blot out and extinguish the old Institution, and with the money that has been collected for it, establish another at Brecon, Liverpool, London or anywhere else. The New Constitution having been carried by the Delegates of the Unions at Shrewsbury, was then brought to a Meeting of the College Committee at Bala, for the purpose of being adopted by them. That Meeting was a numerously attended, excited and up- rorious assembly. After a, protracted fight a small majority declared in favour of the New Constitution. But it is apprehended that all the proceedings of the Committee at that Meeting are nvalid. At the commencement of the Meeting a number of Subscribers were turned out by order cf the chairman on the ground that their Subscriptions (although acknowledged by the 0 13 Treasurer present) were not included in the last year's Report; and one gentleman, the Rev Samuel Roberts, was turned out although he had subscribed more th«n X40 to the Building Fund, wbilst many others were allowed to vote on the subject of the Building Fund who had not contributed a shilling towards it. Several Members of the Committee and Subscribers to the Building Fund are desirous of being advised by Counsel on the following points:— 1. According to Rule II of what is called "The Old Constitution," how and when does a Subscriber become a Member of the Committee ? 2. Is there anything in the Rules to exclude Subscribers from voting until their sub- scriptions shall have appeared in the last published report ? 3. If a number of Members are ejected from an important Meeting, under the mistaken belief that they are not Members, does their wrongful expulsion affect the validity of the subsequent proceedings ? 4. If those Gentlemen who were ejected from the Bala Committee bad the same right to be there as those who were so eager for a majority in favour of the "New Constitu- tion," are the Resolutions carried in their absence binding upon the Committee or upon the Society of Subscribers ? 5 The Building Fund having been expressly collected for the "Bala Independent Col- lege" of the "Old Constitution," can it be 0 lawfully or fairly app'ied to such an Iesti- tution as is intended to be created by the so-called "New Constitution?" 6. Are the Treasurers and Trustees perfectly safe in disposing of the property in accord- ance with the "New Constitution?" 7. What practical way is there out of the present complications ? v [THE BAERISTHR'S ANSWERS.] 1. I am of opinion that the moment a Sub- scription is paid and accepted, the donor be- comes a Member of the Society; and if his Subscription amounts to 5s or more, be,becomes at the same time a Member of the Committee. It is not unusual with voluntary Societies to qualify the Rule constituting membership by a proviso that no one shall have a right to vote until he has been a Subscriber for one or two years. In the absence of such a proviso a Subscriber is at once qualified. 2. There is a Rule to that cffect in the "New Constitution;" but when those Members were turned out of the Meeting, the New Constitu- tion had not been adopted. A Rule cannot be put in force before it is passed. 3. It undoubtedly does. 4. I am clearly of opinion that Resolutions carried after the expulsion of the Members are not binding on the Committee, or on the Society they serve. 5. I think not. The name "Bala Independ- ent College" mentioned in the first Rule of the Old Constitution expresses in my opinion the fundamental object of the Society; but by the