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Observer, Jan. 1, "72.
These facts show the need of our present work, and are derived from regions not heretofore enlisted in the mission work. Twenty-eight of the sixty-five churches in West Virginia have no meeting-houses, and of course but little pastoral care.
We also recommend that standing committees be appointed on Sunday Schools and Circulation of Religious Literature, whose business shall be to present written reports to this Convention annually upon these several subjects. A division of labour as to these interests of the church would doubtless yield more thorough reports than could be furnished by the Corresponding Secretary alone, especially when put into the hands of men naturally adapted to these departments respectively.
As for the circulation of religious literature, though we may not be prepared just now to do much worth reporting, a committee of enterprising brethren could, during the year, make a beginning and ascertain the possibilities as to the procurement of tracts and other productions, and as to the individuals who would be willing to distribute them. It is high time something were begun in this direction, to meet the wants of myraids who never go to church.
Above all things we commend to the whole brotherhood a renewed consecration of ourselves and our means to God. The times demand it, and we owe it, The wonderful activity of every other influence forbids indifference in us. Romanism, Materialism, Skepticism, and all manner of open, blushless sin, threaten the borders of Zion, and none but soldiers of the cross are fit for the hour. We must learn how to suffer with Christ and to go forth unto Him without the camp, bearing His reproach as well as to enjoy the comforts of His love. Let every member make a living sacrifice of his body, and every minister seek for the heavier burdens of
Let none be mean enough to desire an easy position, while others have fought through seas of blood in suffering with Christ. If we are unwilling to suffer with Him we shall not reign with Him. If we are to be identified with Him in heaven we must be identified with Him here, in such trials and cares and sacrifices for the salvation of men as He endured during His itinerancy on earth. With such a purpose let us enter upon the labours of another year, not accepting deliverance from any responsibility that God may count us worthy to receive."
In the above there are several pleasing facts, also others not at all of that character. That over six thousand souls have been added during the year by churches reporting to the Missionary Board, is something to be thankful for. The reader must understand that this number does not represent the additions to the churches of the “Reformation” as a whole, but only those connected with the Missionary co-operation. On the other hand the figures do not show the net increase. In this country, when we l'eport our additions, to an Annual Meeting, we give also our losses. We would be glad if the churches in America and Australia would do the same.
Then it appears that there are a large number of churches which, were they in this country, would not be recognized at all. Two districts in Kentucky, taken as samples, show that out of one hundred and seventy-sever churches there are sixty-three that have no regular meetings. It thus seems that unless they have a preacher present they have no Lord's-day and no Lord's Table. This is a disgrace to the churches so neglecting to come together, and to the brotherhood which consents to recognize such laxity.
Observer, Jan. 1, '72.
The report shows some awakening to a perception of the need for a larger use of the press. Here we are most neglectful, and in America the brethren have not set us a better example. We are not alluding to papers circulated
among church members, but to the want of effort to bring the truth to bear upon people not in the churches.
Upon the whole, we should read these Missionary Board reports with more pleasure, could we, for the time being, entirely forget our readings of the New Testament. Remembrance of the Acts of the Apostles spoils the modern report. The terms of the two records do not agree. Hired pastors, moved about from place to place,-sometimes one man the paid pastor of two or more churches, feeding them with sermons once in two or three weeks,—the evident conception that the desideratum is to reach perfection by getting one such man to each church. All this kind of thing finds no counterpart in the New Testament, and was as unknown to the apostles as holy-water and the mass.
THE LOADSTONE OF CULTURE.—No. II. “God hath chosen the foolish things of the world to confound the wise ; and God hath chosen the weak things of the world to confound the things that are mighty; and base things of the world, and things which are despised, hath God chosen, yea and things which are not, to bring to nought things that are ; that no flesh should glory in his presence.”—1 COR. I. 27–29.
“Hearken, my beloved brethren, Hath not God chosen the poor of this world, rich in faith, and heirs of the kingdom which he hath prepared for them that love him ?JAMES II. 5.
"It is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle, than for a rich man to enter into the kingdom of God.-MATT. XIX. 24.
“But when the young man heard that saying, he went away sorrowful; for he had great possessions.”—MATT. XIX. 22.
WHEN I wrote a few lines to the E. O. for October, under the above heading, it was in no spirit of fault-finding with the resolution of the Annual Meeting, but rather with the view of eliciting some explanation, as 'to which was the real intention of a passage, which, as it stands in the report, appears somewhat obscure, especially to those who, like myself, were not privileged to be at the Huddersfield meeting. I now, however, feel free to say, that the clause in question does not bear so unmistakeably the stamp of robust health and sound constitution as do most of the results of our valued gatherings, of the same kind as the last August one.
The Editorial note on my first paper imports into the question the phase of wealth, in addition to culture, and, crediting me with the same business sense, cannot doubt of my sanity on the question of one poor man's soul versus six rich men's souls; and in the opening of my paper I confessed my appreciation of education at least. The question, however, is not one of the comparative value of poor and rich men's souls, nor between the souls of the illiterate and the learned. It is rather whether we can consistently and scripturally (especially with our limited agencies) propose to ourselves special class efforts. I think not. The Editor seems to be of the same opinion, except that having as a people already compromised ourselves with respect to one class, he thinks we ought now to make compensation to the other by a similar course.
My idea would be to confess the error and sin no more. I do not, however, believe we have any sins to confess in the line indicated, so far as
Observer, Jan. 1, '72.
our organized efforts have gone. We have aimed as high as our means permitted, and sound precedent warranted. Moreover, so far as I have ever known, we have given a man no less cordial a welcome because he brought with him culture and wealth—especially wealth ; although the opportunities of doing so are admittedly rare. I believe that, as a people, we set its full value on wealth, and suppose ourselves as capable of making a good use of it as anybody else.
After all, I am impressed with the idea that God actually has manifested a choice in the matter under consideration, and indicated, at least, that divergence towards the wisdom and wealth of this world is likely to prove a mistake ; if so, then we have a safe example, and one also that commends itself to an ordinary mind by the most obvious reasons. For example, the possession of this world's wealth forms a barrier to the acceptance of the gospel, and in no case does refinement, in its ordinary sense, necessarily predispose or render the heart more accessible to the claims of Christ. I could take the reader on 'Change almost any day, and point out men who stand high in the social scale—men who can speak and write three or four languages; of polished manners and dignified mien, who combine wealth and culture in a high degree; yet these very men, on a thorough surrender to Christ, must of necessity sacrifice hundreds of pounds of their annual income which, to speak plainly, hinge on a fabric of lies. It is also well known that some of the most refined and intellectual of men have been habitually guilty of criminal meannesses, such as an honest man almost blushes to name, let alone to practise. To such the gospel—the great leveller, the great heart searcher, the great self-abnegator-seems to come with doubtful tidings, and while many, like the young man,” would gladly inherit the kingdom, they will not give the price.
It therefore seems as if the divine policy cannot afford to stand arguing with the unwilling rich and wise while the masses are perishing, to whom the tale of Calvary” is glad tidings indeed. Allow a homely illustration : two vessels are nearing a dangerous shore, at some distance from each other, and as they are descried from the land there are also seen signs of a gathering storm, and of imminent peril to the lives on board. There is but one life-boat, and she cannot render service to both at the same moment, although that moment is the crisis for each. To which must she go? To the pleasure yacht, containing her owner and his wealthy friend, in addition to her small crew, or to the emigrant ship, with her freight of five hundred lives ? Methinks there would be nothing to reconcile between the divine and human answers to such a question. Moreover, the history of the divine proceedure is its own vindication, for even where the influence of Christ did take effect in high circles, there was a characteristic response. The learned Nicodemus stole a nocturnal interview with the Lord, and the wealthy Arimathæan was a disciple secretly, for fear of the Jews. On the other hand, the common people heard Jesus gladly, and from their ranks came the men who turned the world upside down. In. God's dealings with men I do not account for the prominence given to those classes which have hitherto formed the masses of mankind, on the principle of respect for the persons of the poor, but because, numerically, elementally and conditionally, are involved in them, to the largest extent, the interests and prospects of the race—they afford the widest scope and yield ihe best returns.
Let us, as a people, emulate the example of our Heavenly Father, so far as we may, and extend the knowledge of His will as widely as possible.
Observer, Jan. 1,72.
If the people come within reach of our platforms, well; they will there be faithfully dealt with. But let us not confine our ideas to the professional boards ; rather let our preachers and evangelists go forth bearing the precious seed into the highways, streets, lanes and alleys—wherever there are ears to gain, wherever there are firesides accessible, and daily pour into human hearts those melting strains which, beginning at Jerusalem, have come down through the ages in spirit-stirring vibrations and fallen upon our souls, that we may take up the notes and pass them on, with undiminished power and pathos, to remotest time. In doing so, however, let us never divide the world into castes, which, on entering the Church, are forever lost in the sublime equality of the Christian unity.
I had written the foregoing previous to receiving the E. O. for Decem. ber, on looking into which I discovered the “ Loadstone of Truth," by W. H. Evans, whom I thank for the earnest article so entitled ; although I fear, from his remarks in the second paragraph, that he may not have sufficiently discriminated between my query as to what inference we ought to draw from the resolution in question, and the actual drawing of an inference. Our dear brother, having been present at the discussion of the subject, concludes that the meaning attached to the resolution was,
66 that the efforts hitherto made in contending for the faith had remarkably failed to reach men of this class ”—of education and culture); and if the motion had been couched in his terms, with a recommendation appended to enquire into the reason why, it would have been much less obscure than the one we have. “ To attract to New Testament ground,” is an unfortunate expression, in the connection in which it stands, and men who are accustomed to find analogies in common objects may be forgiven, if memories of childhood supply an instance of an unwilling victim of the Saturday night wash-tub being attracted to the dreaded laver by a paradise of barley sugar. The tub might be of the best, and the water of the purest, yet the child scorned the thing as an indignity, on its own merits. We know, however, the fault was in the child. And so it might not have been altogether out of place, in considering the reason why” before indicated, to reverse one of our brother's questions, and ask whether it be possible that educated minds, as a rule, are thereby not adapted so well for receiving " the unadulterated truths of the New Testament.” To affirm which might not be a very arduous task. From the beginning they were “ to the Greeks, foolishness.”
Bro. Evans says, “ It is, to say the least, remarkable, that men of this class seem to be almost wholly outside the pale of any efforts hitherto generally put forth by the churches.” To the extent in which this is true, it is not only remarkable, but reprehensible. The very idea, however, will be new to many. There are several means by which it is commonly sought to gain the attention of the public, but to none of them does the charge seem to apply. We advertise through the press, we placard the walls and distribute circulars and handbills, besides nailing up our sign-boards; the nearest approach to the sin alluded to being, the announcement that “all the seats are free." These appeal to all who pass by; and if the antiquated bellman goes round, he generally puts the emphasis on the right word—"all friends and neighbours.” If the Priest and the Levite see or hear and pass on, it is their own fault, as it is their loss. Let us rejoice over the Samaritans, they are not altogether unskilful in binding up wounds.
Observer, Jan. 1, '72.
The example of Christ and His apostles, proves nothing in favour of W. H. E.'s point. “Everywhere," "all the world," "every creature," are the words expressive of their mission; and, if they went from Pentecost to Cornelius, and from the Samaritans to the Eunuch, it simply shews that in God's hand the instrument was equal to all the work, and that the same simple, yet eloquent, story was sufficient. Certain it is, that we have not on record any special raid into the ranks of the rich and wise of this world. Nicodemus sought out the Lord ; and if Cornelius and the Ethiopian had not become poor in spirit. God would never have sent His servants to them.
“ The churches of the restoration are comparatively unknown, beyond the one stratum' of society to which their members almost entirely belong." If “the strata” could have been substituted for “ one stratum the statement could have been more easily endorsed, as they certainly comprise several strata; say labourers, mechanics, tradesman and gentle. men living on their means : and to be well and favourably known among these classes, would be a great thing indeed. We should have no need to cast a longing eye to the aristocracy of culture and wealth.
Neither wealth nor intellectual ability is necessarily a guarantee of usefulness. A well-instructed man, of ordinary ability, with abounding zeal, is worth two mighty intellects without zeal, in the Lord's vineyard or the field of the world. My prayer would be, “ O Lord, give us men impelled by a mighty and heroic enthusiasm, men set on fire by live coals from the altar. Let Peter and Paul live again in the men of this age. Let Christ be more fully formed in us. Let us be filled with the Spirit."
Paul attained to great honour-he was known in the imperial palace of Rome, but it was as a “ prisoner in chains !” Are there brave men among us ? Let them follow him !
We doubt not Bro. W. H. E.'s portraiture of the churches is to some extent a true one; and all must join him in the appeal for something to be done, to raise the tone of effort and also of life; that in the one we
holy and without blame," and, in the other, do all things decently and in order.” To effect these, we need culture and education; but such as the Church can, and ought, to supply. It is not denied that the churches contain men of the stamp so much desired; it is, then, their responsibility, in a great measure, to perpetuate the condition. What are they doing to this end? They are “veterans." What have they done during their long service? Surely their culture is being repeated somewhere. They cannot be content with the conquests of their single-handed warfare. They must inspire others with the warrior spirit, and train their successors to lead in the van, when they have doft the armour.
Yet, after all, God has made every man the steward of his own capa. bilities, and, in the common sense of education, some of the greatest men have been self-made. If, then, anyone aspires to do honourable work, let him first attain to fitness, and then attempt the work. If we need a revolu. tion, let it proceed, but let the motto be a true and Christian one-"purity, for its own sake, order for the love of order, and both FOR THE LORD'S SAKE.' Because it is His will.
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We are afraid our good friend, “ Christian," has filled more space, on this topio, than some of our readers will approve. Had there been proposed some plan for reaching men of culture and position, which he considered to involve a toning down of primitivo