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THE REV. T. BINNEY IN AUSTRALIA.
A SKETCH OF THE GREAT POPULAR DEMONSTRATIONS,
WITH A PEN AND INK PORTRAIT,
AND MR. BINNEY'S RETURN TO ENGLAND,
It will be in the recollection of most people who take an interest in ecclesiastical movements and persons, that the Rev. Thomas Binney, the highlyesteemed Pastor of the Congregational Church assembling in the Weigh House Chapel, London, the leading Nonconformist preacher of England, and the author of one book, amongst others, that has obtained an almost universal circulation, left his flock some twelve months ago and embarked on a voyage to Australia. The immediate cause of his undertaking this long journey was understood to be enfeebled health, demanding cessation for a while froin the wearying work inseparable from the office of a popular metropolitan minister ; but, donbtless, several other reasons united wiih the necessity for a change, and the hope of restored vigour, to induce Mr. Binney to visit Australia in preference to any other part of the world. To say nothing of the presence in the city of Melbourne of a beloved son, it may be remarked for the benefit of those upacquainted with the fact, that the Colonial Missionary Society owes its existence to Mr. Binney, and that from the hour of its birth onwards, year by year, he uniformly manifested towards it the solicitude and care of an affectionate parent. One proof of this is, that the largest congregational collections received by the committee for its support have always been gathered at the Weigh House. It was according to tho order of nature, therefore, that Mr. Binney should desire to visit the colony to which the efforts of the Society have been, for a good while past, mainly directed, and where its greatest successes have been achieved. A few years ago, a special endeavour was made by the Colonial Society,—if not at Mr. Binney's suggestion, with his zealous help,—to furnish Ministers of the Con. gregational Body to meet the augmented spiritual wants of the Colony of Victoria, consequent upon the great influx of people from all quarters of the world, but chiefly from the United Kingdom, drawn thither by the discovery of gold,
yellow and cold,
Hard to get, but light to hold”and the effort has proved signally, and beyond expectation successful. At a very early date in the history of the Australian Colonies a few stray ministers of ihe gospel had been sent out from the Independent Churches of England, and never failed, we believe, to make themselves individually, a name and a power in the land of their adoption; and in concert with the ministers of the United Presbyterian Church of Scotland they helped to sow there seeds of truth regarding the scriptural relation of Church and State which have now happily sprung up and taken a firm root throughout all those regions. Abundant encouragement was consequently supplied by the past to the friends of the Society for extending their evangelizing enterprise in those distant countries, evidently destined to become great nations, and certain to develope the kind of religious education imparted to them in the days of their youth.
The principle acted upon by the prudent and far-seeing founders of the Society was to obtain as their agents the best men they could possibly secure,-morally unspotted, and of well-furnished minds. Great, however, was the outcry made by the selfish portion of the congregations at home against the taking away to the other side of the world men, who were useful and esteemed in their English spheres of labour. But, said the cosmopolitan advocates of colonial interests, these are the only men likely to make their way, and be of real service, at the antipodes; and so extensively did their arguments prevail, that in process of time quite a number of English and Scottish fellowships had to provide themselves with new pastors.“ Among the best known of the ministers who consented to go to Australia, under the auspices of the Colonial Society, were the Rev. Richard Fletcher, and the Rev. J. L. Poore, both of Manchester; and the fact of their emigration has operated to the drawing after them of some twenty other ministers of the same denomi. nation, for Mr. Poore having made a tour of the three provinces, consented to the request made to him by the colonial ministers to return to England for the purpose of recruiting their numbers to the utmost possible extent. Mr. Binney naturally took a very lively interest in the mission of his friend Mr. Poore, and on that gentleman's return, it was arranged that the WeighHouse pastor, whose nervous system had become severely shaken by a protracted doctrinal controversy, bitter, and very personal in some of its aspects, should accompany him. His English admirers were fearful of his intention never to return, especially those who learned that he had given up his house before starting, and found it subsequently converted into a School for Girls ; but it now appears that their apprehensions were groundless, and that in the good providence of God he will in a few months, at furthest, set foot once more on the shores of England.
As everybody foresaw, who knew Mr. Binney, and remembered the extent to which the Australian Colonies are peopled by English men and women, to whom the name and works of the great English preacher must be perfectly known, he has been the most popular man in Australia ever since the day of his landing, and will remain so till he departs. Under such circumstances, it is especially pleasing to be informed that from the first Mr. Binney's health had greatly improved ; so much so, that he was able to preach frequently to overwhelming congregations, and to address a number of large public meetings, as well as take part in others of a more private but not less useful and important nature. The Sydney Morning Herald says, that some expectation was entertained that Mr. Binney might be induced to remain in Sydney for a few years, and efforts in that direction were made, but to no purpose. The Herald adds, " His visit to Moreton Bay was attended with the happiest results ; and he also touched at Newcastle and Maitland on his return. Considerable respect has been paid to the reverend gentleman by the élite of our city, and also by the clergy and members of other denominations as well as his own. Mr. and Mrs. Binney leave in the Emeu for Melbourne. After a short stay there, they go on to Adelaide ; afterwards cross over to Tasmania ; and subsequently return to Sydney. Here they remain a few weeks, and finally will proceed to England, viả India, by one of the mail steamers."
MR. BINNEY IN SYDNEY. The Sydney Morning Herald from which we have just quoted, contains a descriptive article of Mr. Binney, and of a Sermon preached by him soon after his arrival. It is written in a high flown and stilted style, but is nevertheless not destitute of much interest.—" About two months ago," says the Herald, “in the list of passengers brought to Sydney by one of the Melbourne steamboats appeared a name too famous to be carelessly passed by, amid the great unknown. It was only the name of a Dissenting minister, yet it excited more notice than would have done the most aristocratic to be found in Burke's Peerage. Hundreds, of all classes of religious opinions, were proud to know that the Rev. Thomas Binney-one of the greatest of living preachers -had arrived in Sydney; though they might be grieved to learn that illness was the cause of this to them unexpected" pleasure. Many living among us had listened to that eloquent voice in dear old Fatlıerland, and thousands who had never enjoyed the privilege of having heard his glowing and manly utterances, anticipated with equal delight the probability of seeing and hear: ing the well-known pastor of Weigh House Chapel, London. It was indeed hinted by some who laid claim to authentic intelligence, that it was just possible the rev. gentleman might leave our shores without once speaking in public. The sorrows awakened by these rumours was, however, fully dispelled by a public announcement of Mr. Binney's being engaged to preach on the evening of May the 9th, in the Congregatioual Church, Pitt Street. We determined, barring accidents, (to use an Irishism,) to be there; and so it came to pass that on the aforesaid evening we found ourselves at 'meeting,' surrounded by the elité of Sydney. Fearing a crush, we determined to take time by the forelock ; but though the doors had been opened only a few minutes before our arrival, we found the church nearly full, and long before the time announced for commencing Divine service the spacious edifice was literally crammed from roof to floor. Such a congregation, we should fancy, both with respect to numbers and power of appreciating the lofty thought and eloquent illustration, has seldom been looked down upon from any colonial pulpit.”
THE PREACHER IN THE PULPIT.
“ Punctually at seven the preacher commenced the service! As he gave out the Hundredth Psalm every eye was fixed on the noble head, and all intuitively, felt a master mind was before them. Some of his old friends had noted with grief, as he came from the vestry, the heavy stoop of the shoulders, so different from days of yore, when the fine form stood proudly erect, and when the giant Northumbrian could have led the guards who charged at Waterloo ; but pain gave place to joy when they heard the manly voice firm as ever, and like the music of their home, heard in a far off land, sounded now in their ears, the northern burr, and the old familiar lisp. When the dense mass stood up and joined in the Old Hundred the effect was thrilling, and one understood the fondness of the children of the Puritans for their Congregational Psalmody, almost destitute as it is of every preten. sion to melody. We have often wondered, when listening to the noise in Protestant churches which goes by the name of singing, how good, clearheaded men can, in a service which should appeal to the whole natnre of man, not only ignore the aesthetic, but actually enıploy an instrumentality which, to every man of taste and culture, must be an abomination; and, what is still stranger, that young men and women, to whom Handel, Mozart, Mendelssohn, and Beethoven are not unknown, sliouid voluntarily submit to it. It inight have been old associations acting upon us, for Mr. Binney's reading the Scriptures, though natural, is not of the highest order like that of the grand Edward Irving, yet seldom to us have the words of Holy Writ come so powerfully as when our preacher read the lesson of the evening. Lead by him, we knelt. Once again we were in the King's Weigh House. The same quiet beauty, simplicity, and scripturalness as of old, and the petitions were so human; we men and women, struggling for more than life with cares and sins, and earthliness, felt that living satans were being prayed against. And the spirit of prayer how blessed; humble as the penitent Magdalene, confident as the request of the first-born, and tender as the light of a star.”
A PEN AND INK PORTRAIT.
“Now comes the sermon ; but while the preacher is slowly adjusting his glasses to enable him to read his text let us try if we can analyse the face, or understand the meaning of that cliff-like forehead. As we are not believers in the minute mappings of the cranium by plırenologists, we are not about to run our fingers lightly over the different bunps, and then with the boldness of an empiric sum up in figures all the faculties and capabilities el the man. But we have some faith in physiogonmy and the general form of the head, and do most firmly hold that where the eye brings the power of seeing, the Universe of God, with its beauty and sublimity, does not more truly in its just proportion, proclaim the spirit of which it is the vestment, than the features and expression declare the soul which informs them all. Turn we then to our hero. Note first the regal setting of the bead ; graceful as the lily on its stalk is the union of head and neck ; and when throws back, while launching his words of scorn against some sham or lie, you will see the man storm-defiant as an English oak." We mean he could hold himself with grace at a Queen's levee, or stand all undaunted with proud defiance in his attitude, amid the hisses and clamour of an ignorant mob. This rery thing proclaims him one of God's royal race. We do not imply that no one without this noble air can rule their fellow-men by pen or speech, for ve have a vivid recollection of the dumpy necks of John Bright and W.J. Fox; but we say, in every case where the Supreme has so clothed the man with grace and dignity, there is the stamp of power, the possessor is an accredited bero, and though our knees were as brass, we must bend to him. Look at the portraits of Burns, Christopher North, or Daniel Webster, and tell us if you need to read their written lives to know that these men were rulers. Let us now look a little more attentively at the face and forehead. To commence with the latter-what does it say of the powers enfolded within ! We believe Mr. Binney is chiefly famous for his power of abstract thought, and for the logical method and clearness with which he can put an argument. Yet the more we consider the lines and form of the brow and temples, the stronger grows our belief that the imaginative is his ruling faculty. Undoubtedly that brain is capable of severe and continuous thinking, the mental philosopher and the logician are in posse, but the poet, the creator o'ershadows all : and so instead of ice we have fire ; instead of the mere logical deductions and admitted postulates of the pedant, we have the golden tide of wisdom and eloquence; and instead of the dumb and bloodless beauty of the statue, cold and stiff as the sleep of death, we have the warm and animated beauty and power of a living man. Speaking phrenologically, the bump of reverence rising so high what it gives to the forehead proper au appearance of loftiness which a nearer view considerably reduces, affords in some measure an explanation why this man, with head too massive to be bound within the limits of nicely constructed formulas and petty common-places; and with a frame which would have gained him the.beit' among the fancy, has found his life work in the pulpit of a religivus denomination. The eye is hazel, and in his prime must have been keen and piercing as the eagle eyeing the thunder cloud. Now, however, though it still possesses somewhat of its mysterious fascination which ever radiates from the eye of genius, there are the marks which tell of many summers come and gone, and winters which brought sadder storms than ever swept o'er city or strewed a coast with wreck. Perhaps, even before contracted with age, it was not large enough to indicate the very highest class of mind, but certainly now it is not full enough to relieve what we may call the hardness of the glance, which though neces sary on the battle field, scarcely harmonises with
The light that never was on sea or shore.'
Allen Ramsey sings
*Heed not the pretty lying o' their lips,
This may be truthful counsel to lovers of the female sex, but critics of character cannot afford to let the mouth go unnoticed. In this case we sincerely wish we could, for to us it is the only part of the face that is not thoroughly good. Again and again we looked at it, determined to chase away our first impression. Yes, we said the size is good, the lips are well cut, there is strength there. Back, however, it would come. "What can it be? URfeigned respect answered, you can see nothing there but a combination of strength and humour. It would not do, for clear as an inscription it was written on the corners of the mouth that in that nature was extreme sepsitiveness, and coupling mouth and eye there seemed to us a tendency to irritability: As those who know Mr. Binney entirely deny the latter; we either greatly err, or that Christianity he so nobly expounds has put forth her healing influence and wrought in him her benign and holy work. A story we have heard told, and which is not one of the numerous fabrications in circulation respecting this gentleman, comes to memory partly confirming our theory. Some time ago Mr. B. was addressing a meeting of the Congregational Union, in London, when he said something which produced among his brethren sounds of dissent. On the instant Mr. B. forgot himself, and tartly asked, 'Can't you hold your peace !' which brought about his ears such a storm of hisses, that even he quailed, though as soon as the calm came, having felt himself in the wrong, he made an apology, such as only a great man could or would have made. Enough upon the teatures separately. Let us take the face as a whole. Lines are there telling as plainly of the general course of the soul life as if the several experiences had been written out for us in a five act drama. There ought, however, to be bounds to a critic's impertinence, and the inner life is too sacred be babbled of, so, we must hint our meaning, not run into coarse analysis.
An Eastern legend runs thus, “When the lofty and barren mountain was first upheaved into the sky, and from its elevation looked down on the plains below, and saw the valley and the less elevated hills covered with verdant and fruitful trees, it sent up to Brahma a murmur of complaint. "
Why thus barren! Why these scarred and naked sides exposed to the eye of man ?" And Brahma answered, "The very light shall clothe thee, and the shadow of the passing cloud shall be as a royal mantle. More verdure would be less light. Thou shalt share in the azure of heaven, and the youngest and whitest cloud of a summer's sky shall nestle in thy bosom. Thou belongest half to us." So was the mountain dowered. And so, too,” adds the legend, ' have the loftiest minds of men been in all ages dowered. To lower elevations have been given the pleasant verdure, the vine, and the olive. Light, light alone --and the deep shadow of the passing cloud-these are the gifts of the prophets of the race.
SKETCH OF THE SER MON,
“ The preacher slowly, but emphatically, reads his text, “Are ye not carnal and walk as men?' And during the pausé, ere he commences his discourse, calmly scaus the congregation" as if he could read in that sea of up-turned faces the wants of those whoin he is now as a minister of Christ to address. From beginning to end of that wondrous discourse Mr. Binney makes good his claim
not merely to the title of a powerful thinker, but to what his friends may scarcely deeni a compliment, to that of the artistic speaker. His manner (or as some love to call it-action) though at times far from graceful, was ever emphatic, and revealed the self-reliance of the preacher. We were rather surprised at the abundance of Mr. Binney's action in the pulpit, as we had always fancied his sin lay in the opposite extreme, a kind of Emmersonian delivery, trusting entirely to the weightiness of the thought for its effect upon the audience. In avoiding this folly, however, in our opinion, Mr. B., despite his tall and well-formed frame, his long and beautifully shaped hand, errs in excess ; certainly no practised English speaker we have ever listened to uses his body and arms so much. It might do with the third and fourth raters on a platform, but a double first (as thinker and speaker) like Mr. Binney, should leave it to that genus entirely. While fault-finding, we may notice that the arms thrown into fighting position, which was literally the case once during the sermon, is more than an inelegancy, it is an offence against good taste. But these remarks even to ourselves seem carping and querulous, when simply with regard to manner we call to mind the exquisite artistic power displayed in the delivery as a whole. The easy mastery of the voice, the striking naturalness of most of the action, the distinct utterance,