Изображения страниц

Observer, Jan. 1, '72.

prophets. Hence, our author has to evolve a new history from the deeps of his inner consciousness. But what if these deeps turn out to be shallows, and the modern history only coloured rags ? In truth such is the case, for his account of the people is simply an outrage against the historical realities of the case. They were not a spiritual aspiring people with noble activities after God. They were a gross and carnal people, devoted to the flesh pots of Egypt, and even in the midst of superhuman wonders—broad and bright columns of light and power from God the Invisible-were craftily carrying their images in the camp, ready at any time to worship a golden calf or any other idol. The activities, and aspirings, and motions Godward are all pure romance from the imagination of historian Ewald. Hence, that which we do see in the history is not a great people aspiring and feeling after God, but God making overtures to the people. The transcendent miracles, the emphatic deliverance, the impressive ordinances, the solemn laws, the wondrous social system all and entire from God, a continual striving on His part to awaken and nourish life, to create and consolidate trust and reliance, to lift them from idolatries and consequent immoralities into a spiritual and sanctified region. But peace be with Ewald: he is one of the best of a bad school, and may, perhaps, learn sometime that history must not be written from the modern consciousness, which has been created by the destructive time-spirit, but that the ancient realities are found in their own divine order, and belong to the place in which they are found, as surely as the ring of Saturn or the moons of Jupiter belong to the great orbs which are so adorned.

The poets have had a truer perception of the world, in relation to God, than the men of science. One, whose flashing eye penetrated quickly to

. the heart of many things, exclaims, in the midst of visible harmonies :

“ How all things in a whole here weave and blend,

One in the other working, moving, living.
Lo! how the heavenly powers arise, descend,

The golden vessels to each other giving."* In painting of this character we can recognise the “living robe of God issuing from the rushing loom of Time;" but, in descriptions by so-called men of science, nature is the grave of God rather than His vesture. only are uniracles out of the question, but counsel and action also. He is under a scientific embargo, neither hearing nor helping His children, nor,

, indeed, giving any signs of recognition, And the reason is worse, if pos

, sible, and more chilling than the fact, viz.: that if He should stir, He would move something that science requires to be let alone! A great many Christians are confused and chilled by a difficulty resembled to this feeling, when they go to God in worship or prayer, that nothing can reasonably be expected of Him, because Reason allows Him to do nothing. It is as if He were one of those spent meteors to which the Indians offer sacrificema hard, cold rock of iron, which they worship for the noise it made a long time ago, when it fell from the sky, and not because it is likely ever to make even a noise again.”+ A Dutch theologian has, in a lively manner, rebuked the men who say that miracle is impossible. He grants that such would be the case if we were driven to deistic or pantheistic ground, and then adds, “ But if, on the other hand, I take the Christian theistic view of God, and therefore acknowledge Him to be a living and personal God, who, though infinitely exalted above the world, is, nevertheless, in con



- Not

* Goothe.

+ Bushnell,

Observer, Jan. 1, "72.

tinual and direct relation to it; who is not only the Eternal Power by which all things are supported, but the Holy will by which everything is governed . . . . . if this be my point of view, I cannot seriously question the possibility of the occurrence of miracles. If our God really has selfconsciousness and freedom (and how could He be the Absolute Spirit without these ?) then we must necessarily distinguish between the laws of nature and the will of God, as the former are determined by the latter. A miracle is really nothing else than the revelation of the Almighty freedom of Almighty love, which, by its special interference with natural laws, restores the moral order which was disturbed by man in consequence of the sinful abuse of the freedom which God had given him. Neither God's unchangeableness nor wisdom is in this way injured in the slightest degree ; the occurrence of miracles is not an injury, but an advantage to the eternal order of the world, which was at first moral, but was afterwards destroyed by sin. Thus the question of the conceivableness of miracles is, in other words, this question, “Is it conceivable that God should interfere for the redemption and restoration of a race corrupted and made miserable by sin.”

This strikes the proper key-note. Man, with the range of his intellect, the mystery of his conscience, and the singularity of his imperial will, belongs to a supernatural order of things; no fields of light, below or above, can for a moment be compared with him; and, when a moral being requires transcendent signs, it is comely and fitting they should be largely manifest. Sun, moon and stars, ocean, field, and forest are only the furniture of the house in which God has placed him for a season, and whenever the tenant is likely to forget himself and the tenure of his occupancy, it is but reasonable that the Builder and Owner should look in. Without any actual disturbance of natural forces or violation of established laws, the invisible kingdom shines into the visible, the powers of the world to come break through into this world, and man beholds the signs of the presence and hears the voice of the Father.

G. G.


This Convention was held in Cincinnati, October 20, 1871. The Report of the Board supplies the following among other facts :

* This day closes the second year's labour under our present Missionary system. The year previous was spert in so unifying public sentiment as to secure the general agreement arrived at in Louisville in October, 1869. That God is blessing this work, which was begun in hope and humble trust in His goodness, is manifest by many indications of growth and forthcoming strength. Among these signs may be counted the greater amount of money consecrated to missionary work this year than last; the larger number of additions to the church through purely missionary labour ; the increased number and growing efficiency of the evangelists sent into the field ; the character of our State Conventions—their fullness, courage and fixedness of purpose ; besides the growing conviction of the whole brotherhood that our plan is right and will result in incalculable good to the world and to all our churches.

The whole amount of money raised last year was 36,694 dolls. 8c.; this year it is 48,123 dolls. 33c., an increase of 30 per cent. more than last

Observer, Jan. 1, '72.

year. The whole number of additions to the church last year was 3,340 ; this

year it is 5,611, an increase of 78 per cent. This does not embrace money consecrated to the cause by the agency of our Secretaries for the support of pastors in destitute churches, that otherwise would not have been secured, nor does it embrace additions to the church through the labours of said pastors, although these and similar labours might be reported as fair results of the missionary movement. These results of men, money and additions while we are just in the act of organizing our forces, are certainly not to be despised. The brethren should not expect unreasonable speed in the work of completing our organization. It will require years yet to bring it to full efficiency

While we have been willing the past year to appropriate almost everything due to our treasury to start the work in the States, it is earnestly hoped that the State treasuries will be able soon to send on the regular dividends every quarter. So many calls are coming up from all parts of the country, it is painful to put them all off with the faint hope expressed that we may soon be able to help them a little. May we ask the home ministry, especially those here to-day, and those in the largest cities, once more, not to neglect the contributions in their own churches ? It is vain to profess missionary zeal here, if it is forgotten at home. It is unfair to send out missionaries, and then neglect the support of their families while they are labouring abroad. The whole world lies open to us—in America, in Spain, in Germany, and even in Rome the door is open. No preaching would be as acceptable to-day, in New England and Germany especially, as that of our brethren would. We hope at least 10,000 dolls, may be sent to the General Treasury this year, that at least a beginning may be made in the preaching of the Gospel " in the regions beyond."

As for Jamaica, nothing has been done the past year. We have not had a dollar to send there, and have kept up no regular correspondence ; and consequently have no report from them. This may be considered neglect, but our apology is that our inability to help them disinclined us to keep up a show of support, or of taking care of them. The mission must soon be helped or abandoned altogether.

The total additions for the year by baptism and other accessions is 6,136.

The large increase of additions to the church over the results of last year must be an inspiration to our hopes and toils for the year to come. The Gospel is still found to be the power of God unto salvation wherever it is faithfully preached, especially when preached in the “simplicity that is in Christ."

Indiana, Illinois and Ohio are organizing their Sunday School work systematically, using the missionary districts for their subdivisions, and appointing a State Sunday School Board and State agent, who are to report to the State Convention annually, and publish the report with the minutes of the annual State Convention. Other States are contemplating a similar movement, and when all are adjusted it will give us an annual report in this Convention of the Sunday School Work in the whole country. We are glad to see the churches growing in the conviction that the Sunday School enterprise is one of the most important departments of missionary labour, and we earnestly recommend to all the States the establishment of systematic efforts among the children, not only for their religious instruction but for their full conversion to God.

Observer, Jan. 1, "72.

We consider our whole missionary work is carried on with remarkable economy. No one is receiving a dollar except those who are every day engaged in the ministry. No financial agents are employed, as this work is added to the duties of the missionaries. The only expense incurred is that of travelling, postage and printing, for the support of our evangelists can in no other sense be counted as expense than the support of the home ministry.

Let no one look at the dollars and additions in the above report as the only results of our incipient organized labour, for there is much that may be called collateral thắt cannot well be tabularized or given in detailed statement. The assistance rendered frequently when churches are in difficulty; advice and encouragement often given to young men entering upon the ministry; the new hopes inspired in many hearts that never enjoyed such district and county meetings before; the occasional supplying of destitute churches with faithful pastors to build them up and watch for their souls—these and such like ministries, could they be columned, would add largely to our report of usefulness the past year.

The Conventions this year are all remarkably full of interest, full of hope and lofty purpose, confident of success, in a reasonable time. Everything is working in the right direction. The brethren everywhere are not only being satisfied that our system is right, but indispensable to the safety of hundreds of weak churches. Take West Virginia for example: outside of the Pan Handle (whose ten churches are more or less cared for), there have been fifty-five churches formed by Bro. Myers, the State Secretary. He has just completed a tour of hundreds of miles on horse-back, over that mountainous country, visiting and encouraging the hearts of many, "setting in order the things that are wanting,” and making them feel their stronger brethren had not forgotten them. Many little companies of them can scarcely be called churches. They rejoice at such a visit. They need kind and faithful instruction, officers as well as members, and are glad to receive it. For all such our work is indispensable. So it was when the stronger brethren at Jerusalem sent forth Barnabas to Cyprus Phenice and as far as Antioch, as soon as they heard that they had received the word of God; and should we not also have a care of all our feeble congregations?

It is well known that our Government has committed the care of the Indian tribes to men nominated by the several religious bodies of the country. During the past year the General Missionary Board was applied to, to nominate one of our brethren for such a position. Upon the recommendation of a number of brethren, and other gentlemen, who well knew him, we nominated Bro. E. M. Gibson, of Indiana, who being duly appointed by the authorities at Washington City, in May last, proceeded at once to Washington Territory, and assumed the care of the Makah Indians. Having laboured earnestly among them for three months, he has forwarded his first quarterly report to the Board, which we herewith present to the Convention.

We earnestly commend to the Convention the letters and verbal appeals made from Mississippi, Alabama and Georgia, in regard to the evangelization of the coloured race. The brethren in the South greatly desire the salvation of that people, and are dividing their scanty missionary means with them. Preachers of their own colour are acceptable to and more efficient among the blacks than white prechers, and they have men to whom they feel safe in committing this work, if we can furnish them a little assistance.


Observer, Jan. 1, '72.


[ocr errors]
[ocr errors]
[ocr errors]
[ocr errors]

0 5

[ocr errors]
[ocr errors]
[ocr errors]


[ocr errors]

At the risk of unfriendly censures from those not acquainted with the facts, one question will here be asked and answered as the most direct method of placing before you the real situation. Why is so small an amount of money raised for missionary purposes ? To this many answers might be given that would be unsatisfactory. It is not because our people are unfriendly to this movement, for they have expressed themselves without reserve ; it is not because liberal churches do not give freely, for a few range from 100 dollars to 400 dollars; it is not because our churches are penurious, for the individual donations to colleges and other benevolent enterprises prove to the contrary; it is not that our missionaries are not laborious and earnest and successful in their ministry, as this report abundantly proves ; nor is it that we fail to solicit the churches for their contributions regularly every three months; and lastly it is not because our people are poor and unable to give, for we possess a fair share of the farms and houses and shops and bank-stock of this prosperous country. The true answer may best be given, by indirection, in giving the proportion of the number of preachers who are devoting themselves wholly to the ministry and pastoral care of the members. We have not been able to obtain full statistics as to this matter, but have taken the following facts from different States and parts of States, as we could get them :

In Iowa (south half) 200 churches have 17 pastors

Ill., 1st District...106
Indiana ...............550

Minnesota .............

...45 Nebraska.... ..40 Missouri (part)....200

18 West Virginia ...... 55

7 Kansas....... .90

7 Total............1336 The ratio of preachers devoting themselves “wholly” to the ministry is, therefore, only one to every fourteen churches. The most of those so labouring are pastors of single congregations, which leaves the mass of our churches destitute of pastoral care. There is no denial here of the value of the labour of those brethren who always preach on Lord's day, which is often the best they can do, as they have a living to make some other way; but the necessity of daily and continued labour for the welfare of the church cannot be overlooked, for without it they neither prosper at home nor can they give much for missions abroad. And until a remedy is found for this our missionary treasury will always be poor. The churches in a condition to give are too few. But few contribute that have no regular ministry, without the time and expense of a visit from the missionary.

That our present ministerial force is very inadequate to the work to be done may be seen from a report of two districts in Kentucky, taken as samples of what is found in many other places. One district reports as follow : No. of Churches........

65 Members...

Without houses of worship........

Having preaching every Sunday..
Having no preaching or regular meeting ....

The second as follows:
No. of churches....

Having preaching every Lord's day.
Meeting every Lord's day ..........

7 Having

no regular preaching and no regular meeting 47

[ocr errors]
[ocr errors]



[ocr errors]



[ocr errors]
« ПредыдущаяПродолжить »