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1865 Boston, Mass. Hon. Wm. A. Buckingham Charles G. Hammond. Rev. Joseph P. Thompson Julian N. Sturtevant.
Rev. Franklin S. Fitch. Israel E. Dwinell.
Rev. Charles 0. Brown Rev. Geo. W. Henderson . F. W. Gunsaulus.
Secretaries: Rev. Alonzo H. Quint, 1871-83; Rev. Henry H. Hazen, 1883–1900; Rev. Asher Anderson, 1900.
Treasurers: Charles G. Hammond, 1871-74; Charles Demond, 1874–78; Rev. Henry M. Dexter, 1878–80 ; Rev. Lavelette
MODERATOR'S ADDRESS: OPPORTUNITY AND
THOMAS C. MAC MILLAN, ILLINOIS.
This occasion is no ordinary one. While we are convened as a National Council, we are at the same time assembled to celebrate the one hundredth year of the life of the American Board. And there are also gathered, “with one accord, in one place,” many others, representing our churches, who have come hither from the East and from the West, and from the North and from the South, to attend the several meetings of our other denominational agencies. So that this is a place to recall the achievements of the past century, and to afford an opportunity to express thanksgiving for its countless blessings, as well as a time to consider large plans for service in the century upon which we are about to enter.
Such a union of the anniversaries of our national societies has never before come to us as a body of Christian people. And that the meetings are to be held in the city of the Puritans is certainly an event in itself which well expresses the fraternal relationships that thrive between our boards, associations, and societies; and highly illustrates the coöperative value of such assemblies; and deeply impresses upon us the desirability, not to say necessity, of making provision here and now for their regular continuance; and moves us to recall with reverence, and to repeat with sincerity, the prayer which is graven on the municipal seal as the motto of Boston: Sicut Patribus sit Deus Nobis," May God be with us, as he was with our fathers!
The National Council of 1907, held in Cleveland, was overshadowed by the questions attending the proposed union of the Congregational, the United Brethren, and the Methodist Protestant communions. Consideration of that important matter had for months been the foremost theme in our denominational press, in State Conferences, and in District Associations. Pending a decision upon the merger, all related subjects pertaining to the life and work of our denomination were held in suspense; and suggested changes in our polity, as, for instance,
in the powers and nomenclature of our District and State bodies, were considered, and somewhat shaped, by the prospect of the consummation of that union.
Negotiations looking toward the proposed merger have come to a pause. While our own denomination stands committed to the vote adopted three years ago, in Cleveland, as favorable to the union, if the proposed plan could be modified in some of its substantial parts, no present general discussion appears to hinge upon an immediate prospect of such an agreement as this would involve.
A STATEMENT OF POSITION. “The Congregational Churches of the United States, by elders and messengers assembled, do now associate themselves in National Council, –
“To express and foster their substantial unity in doctrine, polity, and work.” — CONSTITUTION, adopted November 17, 1871.
As we are about to enter upon another triennium, it seems not unfitting that we again make known our position as Congregationalists, concerning what we hold to be the essentials of the faith of the founders of our church and of our Republic; and that we once more resolve to send forth into all the world the Gospel which shall contain the same vital doctrines believed and taught and proclaimed by our first missionaries of one hundred years ago.
Our Congregational heritage is a heritage of freedom. With great price have we acquired the liberty we possess; and in that liberty we propose, God helping us, to stand fast.
Efforts to preserve, from declensions from the faith, professors of Christianity, by compulsory assent to arbitrary standards, or by investing in others what we conceive to be unscriptural powers, appear to us to be as incorrect in theory as they have been ineffectual in practice.
The occasional revolt against certain doctrinal declarations of councils and assemblies has sometimes led to that other extreme which would repudiate all authority. There is an Authority, however, whom we as Christians are bound to recognize, to whom we are ever compelled to turn, and who must be accepted as final in the realm of our religious thinking and life, if we are to retain with consistency, and in all conscience, the name we bear; and if we are to live, and profess, and preach,