Evangelical Alliance

Evangelical Alliance is the name of an association of Christians belonging to the denominations collectively called Evangelical, and having for its object to represent the unity of these churches in all the more important articles of faith, notwithstanding their separation by external organization. The Alliance originated in Great Britain, and the rupture in the Presbyterian Church of Scotland seems to have greatly contributed to its establishment. On August 5, 1845, a number of persons belonging to different denominations drew up a, proposal of closer union. The advantages promised by such a movement were at once appreciated in England, and an assembly was convoked at Liverpool October 1, 1845, which was in session three days, and at which were present 216 persons, representing 20 different religious societies. The first General Assembly of the Evangelical Alliance was held in Freemasons' Hall, Great Queen Street, London, and lasted from August 19 to September 2, 1846; 921 Christians from all parts of the world took part in its 26 sessions; among them were 47 from the European continent, and 87 from America and other parts. Among them we find the names of Dr. Barth, of Calvin. Wiirtemberg Dr. Baird, of New York; Reverend Dr. Bonnet, of Frankfort on the Maine (editor of the letters of Calvin); Dr. Buchanan, of Glasgow; Dr. Cunningham, of Edinburgh; William Jones, president of the Tract Society; Dr. Marriott, of Basel; the missionary Mogling, of Mangalur; the missionary inspector (subsequently superintendent general), Dr. Hoffmann; Reverend Adolphe Tonod (then in Montauban); Reverend Dr. Oneken, of Hamburg; Reverend Dr. Panchaud of Brussels; Reverend Baptist Noel, of London; and Dr. Tholuck, of Halle. Some fifty different denominations were represented, some of which, however as the reformed churches of France and Geneva, and the Lutheran churches of North America and Witrtemberg, differed only on local points. Some colored preachers also took part in the proceedings. Sir Culling Eardley (q.v.) was chosen as chairman, and remained the head of the Alliance until his death. The platform was clearly and unanimously defined: the Evangelical Alliance is not to be a union of the different denominations, neither is it its aim to bring about such as its result; its object is only to promote Christian feelings, loving, friendly intercourse between the different denominations, and an effective cooperation in the efforts to repulse the common enemies and dangers. As the means of effecting this purpose, it advocates, not a sort of official or semi-official representative assembly of the different denominations, but rather the union of individuals. It is to be a Christian union, not a Church union; one in which a number of earnest, faithful Christians of the different denominations may join. Being a union of Christians, not of churches, the doors of the Evangelical Alliance are open to all who admit the fundamental principles of Christianity, without inquiring into the minutiae of their particular confessions. It only asks its members to accept (whether because or in spite of their particular confession does not matter) the fundamental principles and doctrines of the Gospel. This naturally led to a definition of these fundamental principles, the admission of which should be considered the basis of the Alliance. On the motion being made by Dr. Edward Bickersteth, the following nine articles' were, after mature deliberation, received as the fundamental principles of the Evangelical Alliance:

"The parties composing the Alliance shall be such parties only as hold and maintain what are usually understood to be evangelical views in regard to the matter of doctrines understated, namely:

1. The divine inspiration, authority, and sufficiency of the Holy Scriptures.

2. The right and duty of private judgment in the interpretation of the Holy Scriptures.

3. The unity of the Godhead, and the trinity of persons therein.

4. The utter depravity of human. nature in consequence of the Fall.

5. The incarnation of the Son of God, his work of atonement for sinners and mankind, and his mediatorial intercession and reign.

6. The justification of the sinners by faith alone.

7. The work of the Holy Spirit. in the conversion and sanctification of the sinner.

8. The immortality of the soul, the resurrection of the body, the judgment of the world by our Lord Jesus Christ, with the eternal blessedness of the righteous, and the eternal punishment of the wicked.

9. The divine institution of the Christian ministry, and the obligation and perpetuity of the ordinances of Baptism and the Lord's Supper." These principles were embodied in a document entitled Societatis Evangelicae constitutionis et statutorum expositio brevis. The members bind themselves to pray zealously for the Holy Spirit to descend upon all believers, and to employ jointly the morning of the first weekday as a season of prayer, as also the first week of each year; as also to use Christian circumspection in their speech and writings when touching, on points of difference. The Alliance was organized on the 2d of September. They organized a series of seven branch associations: 1. Great Britain and Ireland; 2. United States of North America; 3. France, Belgium, and the French portion of Switzerland; 4. Northern Germany; 5. South Germany, and the German portion of Switzerland; 6. British North America; 7.West Indies. These branch associations Went into actual operation afterwards. The Alliance spread in France, Switzerland, and Belgium, without agreement with its definition of the evangelical treed being insisted on. It met with much opposition in Germany from the Lutherans, who did not find the creed sufficiently explicit on certain points, and from the disciples of Scbleiermacher, who disapproved of some of the articles. A second assembly was held in Paris in 1855 on the occasion of the World's Exhibition. The third meeting was held in Berlin in 1857. The ("Confessional") Lutherans became more determined in their opposition, while the evangelical party of Germany, though approving of the general scope of the Alliance, deemed it inexpedient to insist on the acceptance of the nine principles as a condition of membership. This meeting was largely attended, delegates from Macao, Africa, and Australia being present, and brought the Alliance more prominently before the churches of Continental Europe. The fourth meeting was held at Geneva in 1860. It was successful, notwithstanding the declension of the Genevan National Church to sympathize with its objects. Dr. Guthrie, of Scotland; Dr. Baird, of the United States; Monod, Pressense, and Gasparin, of France; Krummacher and Dorner, of Germany; Groen van Prinsterer, of Holland; and Merle d'Aubigne, of Switzerland, were among the most prominent and active members. The fifth meeting was to have been held at Amsterdam in 1866, but was postponed on account of the prevalence of the cholera at, the appointed time till 1867. The fifth General Conference actually took place at Amsterdam on August 18, 1867, and was largely attended. There were delegates from France, Germany, Switzerland, Holland, Great Britain, the United States, the British American provinces, Italy, Spain, Sweden, and Eastern countries. Baron Van Wassenaar Catwijk presided. Among the more prominent delegates were Dr. Krummacher, Prof. Herzog, Dr. Tholuck, and Prof. Lange, of Germany; Pasteur Bersiea, Dr. de Pressense, and Prof. St. Hilaire, of France; Dr. Guthrie, of Scotland; John Pye Smith, archdeacon Philpot, and S. Gurney, M.P., of England; Merle d'Aubigne, of Switzerland; the Reverend Dr. Prime, of the United States, and many others. The opening sermon was preached by Prof. Van Oosterzee. Among the subjects discussed were the religious condition of the Church of England, the Scottish churches, the connection of missions with civilization, Christianity, and literature; and art and science; the methods of operating missions; the religious condition of Germany, France, Holland, Belgiuma, and Italy; evangelical nonconformity; Christianity and the nationalities; and various subjects of theology and philosophy. Interesting reports were received of the progress of religious liberty in Turkey, and of the thraldorn of opinion in Spain. The observance of the Sabbath received especial consideration, resulting in the adoption of a resolution calling upon the members of the Alliance to use in their several places of abode and spheres of influence earnest endeavors to secure from states, municipalities, and masters of establishments, from every one, the weekly day of rest from labor, "in order that all may freely and fully participate in the temporal And spiritual benefits of the Lord's day." A letter of affection and sympathy was adopted to Christians scattered abroad, particularly to those who are laboring against the hostile influences of heathenism or of superstition, and whose rights. of public worship are restrained or abridged. A protest against war was adopted. Special meetings were held on Sunday-schools And systematic benevolence. A series of meetings for the poor were held in one of the mission-rooms of the city with wholesome effect, and two temperance meetings. The. assembly adjourned on Tuesday, August 27.

The Evangelical Alliance of the United States was organized in New York city on January 30, 1867. Eminent divines and laymen of the Methodist Episcopal, Presbyterian, Protestant Episcopal, German Reformed Reformed, and Baptist churches, and from various parts of the country, signified their approval of the movement either by attendance in person or by letter. A letter of cooperation was read from the secretary of the British branch of the Alliance. The Hon. William E Dodge was elected president of the American branch. At a meeting held in New York November 12,1868, it was resolved to convene a new General Conference of the. Evangelical Alliance in the city of New York in the autumn of 1869. The British branch only of the national branches has been in the practice of holding annual meetings.

"Among the results already attained by the Alliance as incidental and secondary to its great object may be mentioned, The supply of an obvious want, namely, the existence of an organized body with and. by whom correspondence and cooperation may be easily and effectually carried on between Christians in different parts of the world, and which may greatly aid in uniting Christians in this country separated by ecclesiastical differences and other causes; the holding of conferences of Christians from all parts of the world, for devotion and mutual consultation, in London, Paris, Berlin, and other cities; aiding in the revival of religion both at home and abroad; the convening of very many meetings for united prayer forthe outpouring of the Spirit, and in reference to passing events of importance; the communication of much information as to the religious condition of Christendom; the encouragement of Christians exposed to trials and difficulties by the expression of sympathy, and in several instances by eliciting pecuniary aid; sucessful interference on behalf of Christians and others when persecuted in Roman Catholic and Mohammedan countries; the mitigation or removal of the persecution of Protestants by their fellow- Protestants in Germany and elsewhere; the presentation of memorials to the sovereigns of Europe, including the sultan himself; on behalf of liberty of conscience for Mussulmen;the encouragement and assistance of the friends of pure evangelical doctrine in all Protestant countries in their struggle with Rationalism or infidelity; the uniting of evangelical Christians in different countries for fraternal intercourse and for mutual protection; opposition, in common with other bodies, to the progress of popery; the resistance of projects which would: tend to the desecration of the Lord's- day; the origination and extensive circulation of prize essays on the Sabbath, and on Popery and infidelity; and the origination of societies established on the principle of united action among evangelical Christians, such as, the Turkish Missions Aid Society, the Continental Committee for Religious Liberty, Christian Vernacular Education Society for India, and German Aid Society. Although these practical results are thus referred to, yet it is to be understood that, even if no. such secondary objects had been accomplished or attempted, the great value of the Alliance would still! remain in its adaptation to promote and manifest union! among Christians. The preceding is from an authoritative statement made by the Alliance" (Eadie, Ecclesiastical Encyclopedia, s.v.). — Herzog, Real-Encyklopadie, page 270; Schem, American Ecclesiastical Almanac for 1868; the full reports of the General Assemblies of the Alliance; Dr. Massie, The Evangelical AIliance, its Origin and Development (Lond. John Snow 1847); L. Bonnet, L'unite de l'esprit par le lieu de la paix; Lettres sur l'alliance evangelique (Paris, Delay, 1847); Ans. and For. Ch. Union, September 1856, page 269; December 1856, page 367; Princeton Rev. October 1846. (A.J.S.)

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