10 November 2015
The legacy our founders left
Our archives are rich with stories about the founders of the Alliance who they have left us with a truly inspiring legacy. The Rev Edward, for example, an Anglican priest who was bold enough to suggest that Anglicans could form a society for evangelicals that would unite Christians from both the established and non-conformist churches. In the early 19 th century this was viewed by some as an outrageous and dangerous suggestion, and Edward received very harsh criticism from some of his Anglican brethren. He travelled around the UK in 1845 and 1846 speaking at meetings discussing how an alliance of evangelicals might work. During a speech delivered to a meeting in Liverpool, January 1846, he said: "…..after all the prayerful consideration I could give to the subject, I believe I am in the path of truth and love in aiding this work. The subject of union among all who love the Lord Jesus in sincerity has long been on my mind."
The founder continued: "Not uniformity in minor things, but the recognition of faithful brethren by each other, with all that comfort of love and fellowship of the Spirit which flows from it, a firmer standing for each of us for vital truth against fatal error; the manifestation of our true unity in Christ to the world; support in trials, which are manifestly before us; a growing increase of the love of the truth in ourselves and an attractive power of truth to others; in short the 133rd Psalm: 'Behold, how good and how pleasant a thing it is for brethren to dwell in unity,' made visible to the world."
"Our difference from faithful brethren in the protestant churches is our present sorrow and weakness, and not our joy and boast. Let us cultivate humility and strive who shall love each other most, like our Master who was servant of all. There has been among us all so much accusing of each another, that it will call for much time and take much grace to leaven our hearts, and our journals and periodicals, with a true spirit of Godliness and of a Christian mind, which will lead each one to esteem the other better than himself."
He concluded: "I would also impress upon the meeting the importance of real humility. Let us not think too highly of this effort; let us not expect too much from it. It is not the mechanism of a society that will heal our divisions, but God's truth that we may bring forth and the aid of the spirit we may obtain by prayer. This will be the secret of our success, and God may yet use us far beyond our expectations."