Born: July 22, 1810, Salford, England.
Died: May 12, 1886, Kensington, London, England.
Buried: Highgate Cemetery, London, England.
From the New Church Herald (Yorkshire, England, 1886):
Long and complete articles having appeared in our contemporaries concerning the late DR. BAYLEY, whose portrait we have the pleasure of giving in this month’s issue, we shall give but a brief outline of the career of that great and good man.
JONATHAN BAYLEY was born in Salford, on July 22nd, 1810. His love for learning early manifested itself, for we find that, at the age of 14, he began to attend the evening classes which had been formed at the Mechanic’s Institute, Manchester. At this age also, he joined the Sunday School at the New Jerusalem Temple, conducted by the Rev. David Howarth, and thus began to learn those glorious truths which were to have such a wonderful effect on his after life.
Until the age of 19 he was engaged at the Salford Iron Works; the work, however, was far from congenial to one of his studious disposition, and he accepted the more suitable position of master of the Day School held in connection with the Salford New Church. This position he filled until, a few years later, he commenced his private school at the Old Cloth Hall, Salford. He was also the corresponding secretary of the New Church Society in that town.
In 1833, he married Miss Lydia Hodson, daughter of the late Francis Marcellus Godson, a well known Missionary preacher, who died in the year 1828. Mrs. Bayley, a thorough New Churchwoman, and one who always took an active interest in the Church, passed into the Spiritual World on the 20th of May, 1880.
At Salford Dr. Bayley soon won for himself a reputation as a preacher, and a vacancy having occurred in the Accrington Society in 1833, an invitation was given to and accepted by Dr. Bayley, who at once commenced on his ministerial duties. The Accrington Society then consisted of 43 members, and the town had a population of almost 7,000. Under Dr. Bayley’s ministry, however, the number of members steadily increased; so much so, that the building in which they congregated was found inadequate to meet the requirements of the members, and on June 24th, 1849, the present commodious church was built.
The society has now a membership far exceeding that of any other society in the kingdom, which no doubt is largely due to the energy thrown into the work by its former minister.
Dr. Bayley always took a great interest in every movement set on foot which was calculated to benefit his fellowmen. Soon after coming to Accrington he commenced a night school and later on he opened a school at Holland-bank.
He then removed to Waterloo, and built the Mount, where, for several years he had a school. That Dr. Bayley won the respect and esteem of his fellow townsmen, is evident from the fact, that, on accepting the invitation of the Society at Argyle Square, London, to become their Minister, in June, 1885, a farewell meeting was held in the National School, at which were represented all sections of the community, showing that the great work he had done was fully appreciated by those among whom he lived and for whom he had labored. Dr. Bayley remained with the Argyle Square Society for sixteen years, during which time its membership increased from 125 to 328.
The Palace Garden Church, Kensington, having been presented to the New Church Conference in 1871, by the late Mr. John Finnie of Bowdon, a Society was formed and Dr. Bayley was asked to become its pastor. Here he continued to labor until his death; his lucid and eloquent expositions of the Word ever increasing the already large number of his admirers and friends.
Owing to Dr. Bayley’s failing health, it was found necessary some time ago to obtain assistance for him, and the Rev. Thomas Child of Bath was invited by the Society to act as Dr. Bayley’s co-adjutor.
Mr. Child, who is considered to be one of the most able lecturers of the New Church, Dr. Bayley was one of the most eloquent preachers which the New Church has ever had, and has taken the most prominent part in her work. He was president of the Conference seven times, and was a member of many of the committees.
His life was a living example of that religion, the meaning of which Swedenborg so beautifully empresses in the words:All religion has relation to life and the life of religion is to do good.His rare eloquence, his acute and discriminating perception, his sound judgment, and his extensive reading, and above all his most wonderful memory which seldom failed him, made him matchless as an opponent and rendered him invaluable as a minister of the New Church.
One great trait of his character we must not overlook: that is, his great love for children. It was this that prompted him to establish the New Church Orphanage in 1880, and it was for little children that he commenced a magazine in 1880, and edited it for a period of 10 years. Truly, he loved, and was beloved, by children; they, seeing reflected in his kind and gentle face that good-hearted disposition, which attracted all to him. Well might he wish his epitaph to be:He loved little children and desired to do them good.
Dr. Bayley was a great traveler and at various times visited France, Germany, Italy, Spain, Sweden and Norway, Russia, Egypt and Palestine. He always prepared himself by learning the language of the country which he was about to visit.
Dr. Bayley has left behind some large and comprehensive works. The principal of these areThe Divine Word Opened,New Church Worthies,andGreat Truths on Great Subjects,a series of lectures delivered by him at Brighton in 1859, the circulation of which has reached its 43rd thousand.
In addition to this, he edited, as we have said, The Juvenile Magazine, and also contributed to The Intellectual Repository (now The New Church Magazine), and to other denominational magazines.
His whole aim seems to have been to make his fellow men happy, and his whole life was spent in propagating those New Church truths which alone can establish the Lord’s kingdom on earth. He was a true minister, ever willing to serve; an honor to his fellow men, and an ornament to his Church which may well mourn his loss—a loss which is irreparable.
Well did he use the talents entrusted to his care, and after a long and useful life, on the twelfth day of May, 1886, in his 76th year, he passed away in peace and was gathered to his fathers—those good and kind souls who, like him, had lived and labored for the good of others.