The New Zealand Evangelist
On Thursday, February 22nd, the foundation stone of the first Presbyterian Church, Nelson, in connexion with the Free Church of Scotland, was laid by the Rev. J. D. Nicholson, the Minister.
Soon after 3 p.m., the time appointed for the ceremony, the people gathered together in considerable numbers upon the ground. An was to be expected, the harly sons of the North mustered in full force on this to them highly interesting occasion. But there were many also belonging to other denominations, who testified their Catholic feeling to wards their Presbyterian neighbours. The Superintendent and Resident Magistrate was present, as well as a large proportion of the gentry of Nelson. After devotional exercises, which were conducted by Mr. Nicholson, and the Rev. J. Aldred, Wesleyan Minister, some very interesting and Catholic addresses were delivered by the Rev. Mr. Butt, the Church of England Minister, the Rev. Messrs. Ironside and Aldred, Wesleyan, and the Rev. Mr. Heine, Lutheran Minister. Perhaps special notice should be taken of the very liberal and Christian sentiments of Mr. Butt, the Episcopal Minister.
The Rev. Mr. Nicholson then gave an animated address to his page 234 countrymen, and to the people assembled. He said, “The duty laid upon him that day by the adherents of the Presbyterian Church in Nelson, would continue to live among the number of his grateful recollections. In presenting himself before them, it was in no spirit of sectarianism, for the prayer of his heart was, ‘Grace be with all those who love the Lord Jesus.’ Though he confessed to loving his own communion best, he yet loved the whole brotherhood of Christ, and rejoiced that he saw exhibited there that day such a beautiful illustration of brotherly love and Christian charity. It was not the way in Apostolic times that every Church should look on its own things; and not on the things of others; and with them the primitive spirit had that day been revived, for the meeting had listened to the warm addresses of the Episcopalian, Wesleyan, and Lutheran ministers. Difference of sect and denomination was of small moment compared with the life of God in the soul, and that new name which is written upon every servant of Christ; and if any love not Christ, it matters nothing whether he be called Episcopalian, Lutheran, Wesleyan, or Presbyterian. The rev. gentleman said, that he loved his own Church, and surely Presbyterians might be allowed to have a preference for the communion to which they belonged. They need not be ashamed of Presbyterianism. Contrast the state of England in vital religion in the Puritan times, and after the restoration of Charles II, and the ejection of the two thousand Nonconformists—contrast the present state of Presbyterian Ulster with any other province of Ireland—contrast the state of Scotland with any other country of Europe, and every friend of bible instruction, of sabbath observance, of true religion, ought to rejoice in the prospect of extending Presbyterianism. It was lawful, it was also expedient, on a day like that, to speak to Scotchmen of their native land. He loved Scotland—he loved his land because it was his own. Scotchmen in other lands, rich and sunny though they be, cannot forget the home of their sires, nor the last view of its rocky shores. They need not be ashamed of their comparatively barren country, and its ungenial climate. Scotland has proved the nurse of many adventurous sons, whose conduct, talents, and renown in other parts of the world, reflect honour on the land of their birth. It was expected of Scotchmen by their country, that they would do their duty —that they would be distinguished among the natives of other lands for their high moral bearing, their honest and persevering-industry, their sobriety and verity, and for their habitual reverence for Gotl and the things of God, Presbyterian Scotland had shown that living faith and high principle are yet to he found on the earth, as in former times, when her children's blood was shed like water, when from many a bloody seaffold and from many a gallows tree she witnessed a noble testimony for the truth of God and the cause of Christ, confirmed and sealed by the blood of her best and truest sons and daughters. Revered be their memory and name, and may the rude tablets in the glens and on the mountains of Scotland point out to future generations the last resting place of their martyred forcfathers. Let us (said the rev page 235 gentleman) arise, then, and build our house of prayer, in the name of the Lord—our temple for the worship and service of Almighty God; and let us at the same time remember, ‘Except the Lord build the house, they labour in vain that build it.’ May the gospel of our salvation continue to be proclaimed within the edifice which shall be built on the foundation stone now to be laid through the mercy of our God. May glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace and good will to men be preached here. And may truth, peace, and charity take up their abode within its walls. ‘For my brethren and companions’ sake I will now say, Peace be within thee, because of the house of the Lord our God, I will seek thy good.” Mr. N. then produced a bottle, which was to be deposited in a cavity beneath the stone containing the various silver coins of the realm, from a shilling downwards, a New Zealand Evangelist for February, 1849, a Nelson Examiner for January 27, containing the statistics for the settlement, and a parchment scroll, containing the names of the Presbyterian Ministers in New Zealand; the date of Mr. Nicholson's arrival in Nelson, the names of the Building Committee, Trustees, &c. &c. The bottle was deposited in its resting place, and Mr. Nicholson proceeded to lay the stone with the usual forms, solemnly, and in the name of the everblessed Trinity. Three cheers were given, the National Anthem sung, and, after the benediction, the assembly departed, highly gratified, to their homes.
In the evening about 250 friends took tea together in the large booth adjoining Mr. Campbell's School, Bridge Street, and after tea, retired into the School, where, under the presidency of Mr. Nicholson, an agreeable evening was spent in devotional exercise and addresses from the Ministers present, and two or three other gentlemen.