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COLWYN BAY.

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COLWYN BAY. THE FREE CHURCH CONFERENCE. The Conference of Free Churches was held, at the Lecture Hall, on Thursday afternoon, April 23rd, when the Rev. Thomas Parry, J.P., A.C.C., presided, the motive in view being the formation of a Free Church Council for Colwyn Bay, Colwyn, Llysfaen, etc. The President, in opening the meeting, said that they lived in perilous times, and he sincerely hoped that the meeting would be the means of helping them to do their duty on the stirring question of the day. [Hear, hear]. The Rev., J. Edwards was glad to see so many Churches represented. He hoped that the English and Welsh Churches would draw together in this work. If any lagged behind, it was because they did not fully understand the objects of the Council. Sunday observance was one point it was a disgrace to have a four-in-hand driving round Colwyn Bay on Sundays, and they ought, as Free Churches, to co-operate against it. Then there was the Temperance question why should that be left to an outside organisation ? When a fresh license was applied-for in Colwyn Bay, the Churches should unite in their Council to oppose it. They could take important action in the Education question, and in some respects in political matters, though it was not necessarily a political organisation. The Rev. W. Briscombe (Llandudno) urged that Nonconformist bodies should unite more than they had done in the past, for their mutual benefit. The Rev. John Raymond stated what had been done at Llandudno, and the satisfactory way in which the Welsh and English Churches co-oper- ated there. He alluded to what was being done on the Cemetery question. It was remarked that the question of a Cemetery was prominent at Colwyn Bay, and the proposed Free Church Council would take cognisance of the matter. The Rev. J. Lanceley referred to the opposition recently offered to new licenses by the Free Churches, and said that the Churches had deter- mined to put up with the sneers of the brewers. [Applause]. Between the meetings the delegates sat down to a sumptuous tea (given, with his usual gener- osity, by Mr F. Nunn). The evening public meeting was held at the Welsh Baptist Chapel, Mr F. Nunn presiding. In his address, Mr Nunn said,—" In its inception nothing could have been simpler than the religion of Christ. So far from Thirty-nine Articles being laid down even the Ten Commandments were condensed into one. But no sooner had the Founder gone than his followers began to fill in the glorious outline with a vast quantity of colouring of their own notions,—the good wine became indeed old crusted port, but, as some of us think of the symbol I have used, none the better for that. A fungus growth covered the Tree of Life, and, like real fungus, it was, as a rule, poisonous, and it nearly always, instead of helping real growth, hindered and sucked out the life of the tree. Over the essence of religion there could be no controversy, but over these accidents there were many opinions, so that East and West became sundered, and, while the East sub-divided into Gregorian, Mestorian, Coptic, Orthodox, and what-not, the West, also by the sheer weight of this burden of parastic incumbrance, broke up into Roman and Protestant, and, while the Roman was not without its subdivisions, Protestantism still more, in its passionate efforts to shake off the incubus of that tradition which they held had made the commandments of God of no effect, divided into Lutheran and Calvinistic, and this latter into Independent and Presbyterian. And the Quakers and the Baptists arose, and last of all (excepting only the Salvation Army, which seems to be itself now entering on to the splitting stage) came the Wesleyan Church, full of the vigour of youth, long tied to its mother's apron- string, but now in our day gaining the courage which its success well justifies, to hold up its head among the Free Churches, and to call itself also a Church. And Methodism split up, the Baptists split up, and the Presbyterians disrupted, and there is not one in this synagogue to-night (I am sure) but glories in at least some of these splits, holding that, so far from schism being sin, schism is a necessary consequence of sin, the sin of Churches, the error which has grown up around the truth, hiding it from our eyes. But, while we rejoice in the faith that led our forefathers to come out and be separate, we rejoice yet more in the love that led them to look further than exter- nals, and to find bases of re-union, and so we thank God for a United Presbyterian Church and a United Methodist Free Church, that Baptists are no longer General and Particular, that America keeps but one brand of Methodism in stock, and that Australia is on the road to do the same. But there is a point where Corporate Union must stop, or Liberty of Conscience go. You may have a nominal union of Papist and Protestant, of Laud and Latimer, of Liverpool and Lincoln, of Gace's Catechism" and Gore's "Lux Mundi," of S.P.G. and C. M.S., and call it a National Church if you like, united in the solitary fact of holding the bag, but, unless a higher bond of union than that can be fouud, we will remain apart. But, if Reunion be a dream '-and it surely is and must be while the Roman Church in its greatness, and the Anglican in its arrogance, has only the idea of union by absorption like that between the man and the tiger,—if, I say, Union can never be absolute and complete until at least we have a further revelation of the mind of God, does nothing remain ? Cannot the walls be reduced in height so that we may shake hands over them ? Are our differences such as to demand the lofty and impenetrable barrriers which that now separate us ? Cannot the armies that have fought the I enemy, and, alas, too often wasted blood and treasure in fighting each other, form now but one I army divided into many regiments, each with its distinctive banner, each with its own command- ing officer, aye, each with its own court-martial for the punishment of breaches of its own bye- laws (if I am not carrying the simile too far), but each waring a warfare against a common foe with emulation, but not with envy, not treading on each other's toes, but giving its whole energies to the defeat of the common foe. And this is the object of the movement which we are met this evening to initiate in Colwyn Bay, the drawing closer together of the Free Evangelical Churches. We owe no obedience to the Pope. We are not of the fellowship of those who, of various views unite in bowing down the head to an image whose legs are tithes, its arms Cathe- drals, its fingers and toes Parish Churches, its head Queen Anne's Bounty, and its body the immense wealth of the Ecclesiastical Commis- sioners, and which is covered with a radiance of Court favour and of Government recognition. We pay allegience to Christ, and to him only. We believe that such a federation can be made to redound to a deepening of our spiritual life, to a hastening of the coming of the Kingdom of God, and these are our motives in helping on this move- ment. This is the day of the expression Non- conformist Conscience," and we glory in the term. We are proud that such subjects as Social Purity, Temperance, Justice to Armenia, and Arbitration with the United States find their first and warmest sympathisers among the Free Churches, and we predict that a federation of those Churches must redound to the honor and glory of God, and hasten the coming of the time when His Kingdom shall come, His Will be done 011 earth even as it is in Heaven." The following resolution was put to the meeting: That this meeting enters its emphatic protest against those promises of the Education Bill which, in its opinion, seriously affect and cripple the administration of public Elementary Education by the Local Authorities created under the Educa- tion Act of 1870, on the following grounds :—(i) Because the School Boards will depend for their share of the local rates upon the will of another Local Authority which has been elected for totally different purposes, and may be influenced by totally different considerations (2) Because, if the devolution of the powers of the Government Education Department in relation to the distribu- tion of Parliamentary Grants, and the consequent inspection of the Schools, is carried out as per- mitted by the Bill, the School Boards will be under the educational control of a Committee of the County Council the majority of whom have no special knowledge of such business, yet who will determine the method of distributing the Grants, and may even modify the course of instruction (3) Because facilities are given for the dissolution of School Boards, and for the transfer of their powers to the Educational Authority, placing the practical management of the Schools in the hands of Local Managers far removed from popular control." A resolution was passed forming a Free Church Council for Colwyn Bay, Colwyn, Llysfaen, and district. The President called upon the Rev Luke Wiseman to address the meeting, and that gentle- man said that Church Unity was in the air the microbes of unity are within,—the forces of doing evil are drawing more closely together, so why should not the forces of doing good also be drawn more closely together; why should we not rub shoulder to shoulder. We should first be Christians, and then denominationists. Our motto should be Back to Christ." We are doing what the pilgrim in Bunyan's Pilgrim's Progress did when he came up with others, they Progress did when he came up with others, they walked side by side and, if we unite, we can then act in harmony one with another. We have got a mission to everybody, and we, each of us, have to work that mission out for ourselves. Nonconformist Parishes have been formed in Bir- mingham, which are carrying on House-to-house Missions. There are Free Churches in Birming- ham, and there is a Free Church Council there, and they had recently a monstre united meeting, -Wesleyaiis, Baptists, Presbyterians, and Armenians, all united. We can unite in social work the Churches, in detail or collectively. The next speaker called upon was the Rev E. T. Eweing (Broad Street Presbyterian Church, Birmingham), who said,—We have to speak on an important movement. It has been the outcome

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COLWYN BAY.