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efficiently on the minds of the Irish peasantry. "The utility," says the writer from whom the last extract was made, "of the reading of the Scriptures, in this part of the country, must be acknowledged. Under the Divine blessing the cause of truth is apparently progressing. Our prayer-meetings, which, some time since, were only two in number, in each week, are now increased to six, and that from the voluntary requests of the people. Although I often feel fatigued after returning home, I do not think it well to let these hopeful beginnings die for want of encouragement."
Such an agency as the one whose working is described in this paper, it would be desirable to employ in the length and breadth of Ireland, as there is every reason to believe, that it would be a most important means of preparing the way of the Lord in that land. The labours of intelligent, pious Scripture readers will not be undervalued by those who understand the social state of the Irish peasantry, as they will recognise in it a peculiar suitableness to the wants of that interesting and deeply injured portion of our fellow-subjects.
COLONIAL MISSIONARY SOCIETY.
THE following document deserves the most extended circulation, and the most thoughtful perusal among the Congregational churches. It is written with great ability, and in that calm, wise, earnest tone which always indicates a good cause, and deserves a deep attention. This letter states what the Independents of England must do if they would plant churches and pastors in Canada, and asks what they will do in a work so pregnant at once with importance for the present, and with hope for the future. Our brethren allege that the committee of the Colonial Missionary Society has formed an erroneous idea of the ability of the churches in the rural districts of Canada, to contribute for the support of their ministers. There seems to be some ground for this statement. It now appears that to establish Congregational churches, and to sustain ministers as their pastors, and as missionaries to the surrounding population, will be a work involving heavier pecuniary charges than was at first anticipated. A just view of this great work cannot be too soon obtained, that our efforts to promote it may be wisely directed. At the same time, our beloved brethren in Canada may also on their part have formed too high expectations of the ability of the British churches for upholding and extending this work. Many burdens press, many claims are urged on them; still they can do more for the colonies than they have yet done. The proof of this, it is hoped, will be found in the future increase of their efforts. In the mean time, nothing can be more important and useful than a thorough mutual understanding of the respective positions of brethren in Canada and in England. On this basis alone can harmony and confidence rest. Moreover, Congregational principles are of inestimable value,-of an importance not to be calculated. They are urgently wanted now in every part of the British dominions for truth and charity, for liberty and purity, they are indispensably needed. It must be confessed, it requires to be proclaimed rather than concealed, that our pastors and churches generally do not as yet appreciate their distinctive principles; do not labour for their diffusion-do not perceive their bearing on the ecclesiastical and social affairs of mankind, on the truth and liberty of the Gospel in any adequate degree. May they speedily awake to clear views and energetic movements for their defence and propagation!
"MEMORIAL OF THE CONGREGATIONAL UNION OF EASTERN CANADA TO THE COMMITTEE OF THE COLONIAL MISSIONARY SOCIETY.
"Honoured and beloved Brethren,-Among the various and important subjects which have occupied the prayerful consideration of the assembled ministers and
delegates of the Congregational Union of Eastern Canada, our present position and future prospects in this province, as a denominational body, have shared largely in our solemn deliberations.
"While this is, necessarily, a subject deeply interesting to ourselves, we feel assured that it will be no less so to you and your highly valued Society. Any statements or suggestions, therefore, on this subject, which we may deem expedient and necessary, with affectionate and respectful frankness, to submit to your consideration, will, we feel satisfied, be received with Christian candour and kind attention. Greatly, however, as we desire to convey to you an accurate representation of the actual position we occupy,-the peculiar circumstances by which we are surrounded, and the difficulties we have to encounter, we shall fail, after all, by any written communication in accomplishing this object. An actual residence, for a time at least, in our country districts and settlements, is absolutely necessary to a correct acquaintance with these points.
"The brethren who now occupy this field of missionary labour are strictly pioneers, they have much to clear away and remove, that those who follow may have a less obstructed path. They are engaged in laying a good and secure foundation, on which their successors may more easily, safely, and extensively build. They are now scattering the good seed, of which it will be the more delightful work of future labourers to reap the abundant harvest. We are engaged in an arduous struggle for the establishment and extension of the great principles of evangelical truth, scriptural church polity, and the voluntary support of religion. Various, indeed, are the difficulties and trials to which attachment to these great principles and objects continually exposes us. We find ourselves, particularly in the country districts, (to which, in this communication, we specially refer,) surrounded by unsettled, dangerous and unscriptural opinions of every shade, by which the most important truths of the Gospel are falsified and perverted.
"And we are apprehensive, dear brethren, that your views and expectations of the ability and disposition of the population generally of this country to support the ministry of the Gospel among them, are not in exact accordance with the actual state of things. From this cause, therefore, your own expectations with respect to the self-sustaining power of our churches have already been partially disappointed; while the expression of this disappointment, and the intimation of diminishing your aid, have greatly discouraged your devoted missionaries, and spread a deep gloom over our future prospects. You expect that all the churches gathered and organised through this country will be able, and must, within a moderately limited period, sustain, unaided, the Gospel among them; and that a gradual reduction of the amount granted by your Society must be made, until the whole sum or measure of assistance be discontinued. If our churches really did possess the self-sustaining power, or were likely to possess it within a comparatively short period, this would, undoubtedly, be the right basis on which your aid in the first instance should be granted. But with the exception of our city churches and congregations, whose circumstances are altogether dissimilar to those in the country districts, the self-sustaining power is not yet possessed by us, nor can we, at present, fix on any definite period when its possession may be realised. During the past few years much has been accomplished in differen sections of the country through the aid that has been received; and the conviction is forced on our minds, that our present positions and further advance can only be maintained as that aid is continued.
"There are numerous sections of this country, both where the people are supplied with the Gospel, and where they are not yet supplied, which could furnish a competent support for a minister, if there were union of feeling or religious sentiments, and strength of moral principle. But there is no such union. One very large por
tion of the population care little or nothing for religion of any kind. Of course their property is withheld from the support of religious institutions. Of those who do care for religion, and are desirous to have a minister among them, there is a wide diversity of religious sentiments. They are divided into many sects, whose separate prejudices will not allow them to unite for the support of a minister of any denomination. Thus the number of individuals in any given township or section of country, who care for the institutions of religion, and can unite for their support, is generally small. We wish to see a ministry resting for support solely upon the affections of the people, and winning that support by laborious and faithful attention to their pastoral duties. We, therefore, unhesitatingly recognise and inculcate the duty of a faithful and liberal employment of our own means, to sustain the ministry of the Gospel among us; but we are, at present, only few in number, and weak in resources. The country districts of our province must be regarded for some years to come, as strictly a field of missionary labour, and the ministers sustained as missionary pastors. If the field can thus be cultivated by the British Congregational churches, our much-valued and distinctive principles will be extensively diffused and permanently established; and under the blessing of our Divine Head and Redeemer, flourishing and prosperous churches, founded on the model contained in the New Testament, will eventually cover the length and breadth of the land. If, however, from want of either ability or inclination, the Colonial Missionary Society, as the authorised representative and agent of the British Congregationalists, should decline prosecuting this arduous, yet glorious enterprise, the work must remain undone. In years to come, our churches may be found scattered through the country, few and far between,' the least among the thousands of Israel; but as a denominational body we shall, assuredly, have no existence.
"Should it, however, be your fixed principle and plan, to which we have alluded, on which you intend to carry on the operations of the Society, it will become a question of very grave importance, whether a minister should ever be directed and sanctioned to occupy any section of this field of missionary labour, where the people's means of sustaining him are likely to be limited and inadequate for some years to come. And in addition, we may also say, that if such be strictly enforced with respect to those brethren and churches at present sustained by the bounty of your Society, the time is certainly not far off (unless assistance come from some other quarter) when those devoted labourers, after struggling with pecuniary embarrassments, in addition to their other difficulties and trials, and bowed down by personal and family privations, will be compelled, however reluctantly, to quit the field, and their churches and congregations will be broken up and scattered. It has cost hard struggles to achieve what, under the Divine favour, has been already accomplished, and how can we endure to see it alienated and lost? With whom shall we leave these sheep in the wilderness?
"Through the liberal aid of your Society we have also now an institution in which an efficient native ministry is training up to occupy the destitute sections of our country. We cannot, however, refrain from indulging painful apprehensions that many of these devoted labourers may ultimately be compelled, through want of support, either to return to secular employments, or seek a more inviting sphere of labour in the adjoining United States.
"Several causes have, hitherto, operated to disappoint the expectations formerly indulged, both by the brethren residing here and those in Great Britain, that within a few years, at most, each church would be able to sustain its own pastor: and blended with these, many reasons may be assigned in support of the position stated with respect to the future: such as-the great variety of sects and parties with which the province abounds-the fluctuating character of the population, and the
frequent removals and changes that are taking place-the general poverty of the people, many of them, in each section, being recent settlers; and as few of them have formerly been accustomed to sustain the Gospel by voluntary contributions, they will, for many years, give but sparingly—the uncertainty of the crops, from the variableness of the climate, &c.-the extremely unsettled and depressed state of the country for several years past, arising from political and other causes, and this depression, especially the commercial, having been greater during the past year than ever before experienced-the almost total absence of money in the country districts, many families scarcely receiving and disbursing as much cash in a year as would pay their ministers' postage-the mode of paying subscriptions to the minister's support in agricultural produce, and this at irregular periods, and often at an advanced rate of value-the unacquaintedness of the people generally with our distinctive principles, and the consequent want of a proper appreciation of their worth-the gratuitous offer of their services by some other denominations, especially the Episcopalians, (who are making great exertions to extend themselves on every side,) which proves a powerful inducement with a worldly-minded and comparatively poor people to enter within their fold.
"For several years the American Home Missionary Society contributed largely of its funds to the well-being of this province, by sustaining missionaries and organizing Christian churches. But now that their aid is imperatively demanded by the new and rapidly-rising settlements of their own Union, it is necessarily, though reluctantly, withdrawn from this country. And as the Colonial Missionary Society was specially organised to occupy this field of Christian missions, (and none can doubt the ability of the British churches to do this effectively,) the Directors of the American Home Missionary Society consider themselves released from further obligations to continue their assistance. And could they doubt the disposition of the Colonial Missionary Society to do much for Canada, when they read the reports and professions on this subject? And now if the required aid be withheld, what will become of the reputation of our denomination (represented in this field by your Society) for benevolence, ability, and diffusiveness? The missionaries and churches thus formerly sustained by the American Home Missionary Society now crave your assistance; they cast themselves on your fostering care. They constitute an important part of our ‘Union,' -they are efficient co-workers with your own approved missionary labourers.
"We would remind you, beloved brethren, that till within a very few years past, Canada was entirely neglected by the Congregational churches of Great Britain. With the exception of individual and unaided efforts, no exertions were made by British Congregationalists in forwarding the work of God, and diffusing their own distinctive and much-valued principles in this extensive part of the British empire, where were annually increasing thousands of their own kinsmen according to the flesh,' destitute of the Gospel of salvation. Is there not, then, a large arrearage due by those churches? Is it too much to expect that the debt will be distinctly acknow. ledged and faithfully discharged?
"Dear brethren, the germ of a great empire is here. This country, with its mighty rivers, and fertile soil, and commercial capabilities, is able to sustain, and must ultimately sustain, an immense population. A rapidly increasing population will spread over the boundless plains and forests, and up the numerous rivers and lakes which intersect its territory. How vastly important, then, that an evangelical ministry, and thoroughly scriptural institutions, should be planted now, and grow up with its population, entwining themselves around the affections of the people, and throwing their own sacred and happy influence around their families, and into all their other rising institutions! The destiny of unborn millions may, therefore, be influenced by what your honoured Society shall now do.
"For the sake, then, of the glorious doctrines and institutions of the Gospel which we love-in view of the evils which we deprecate-in behalf of the cause with which our religious views and feelings are identified, and with which we hope, as ministers and churches, to rise or fall-we do earnestly and prayerfully ask the continuance and increase of that aid, without which, for the present, we see no way by which the ministry of the Gospel in our country districts can be permanently sustained and extended among us."
TRANSACTIONS OF CONGREGATIONAL CHURCHES.
THE CENTRAL COMMITTEE ON GENERAL EDUCATION CONNECTED WITH THE CONGREGATIONAL UNION, continues its labours with encouragement and success. The subscription gradually increases. Preparatory arrangements are in progress, which will lay the foundation for extended and permanent operations. The pastors and churches are generally impressed with the necessity that efforts and sacrifices, more than usual, should be made in this department of benevolence. The work is indeed arduous, but the prospect is cheering. Still the subject must in every mode be continually pressed on the public attention, and unfolded to the public mind, that it may be sustained and advanced as its intrinsic importance, and the present crisis, unite to demand. Let some of its aspects be now carefully considered.
In the first place, it is becoming manifest that the evangelical churches of all denominations must awake to a more due appreciation of the vital importance, and the necessity of promoting the intelligence, of informing the mind of the people. The understandings of the most numerous classes require to be cultivated. They must be moved and trained to think. Knowledge must be communicated to them. Various interesting and improving subjects must be opened to their view. They require to be intellectually raised. It is not on religious topics only that they must be instructed. The instruction of a few hours on the Sunday is not adequate. Religious education on the Sabbath must be sustained and facilitated by daily and evening instruction. All this is needed to raise the people in character, thought, and intelligence. It is required by the times. The people connected with all evangelical bodies of Christians in this country must now obtain the intelligence needed to understand their political rights and obligations-to fulfil their social duties. Their minds must be thus cultured and trained, if they are to retain sound Protestantism and the genuine Christianity of the Bible. In this way only can they be preserved from becoming the dupes and victims of an aspiring priesthood, the slaves of an abject superstition, the votaries of a deluding and destructive formalism.
Again, it cannot fail to strike an observer how the claims on the pecuniary contributions of the non-endowed evangelical communities annually grow, become more and more numerous and urgent. In the one year, 1843, the secession from the established Kirk of Scotland, and the educational movement in England, have together created a necessity that within a few years, five or seven, full a million of money must be raised by voluntary efforts, in addition to all the numerous contributions that were previously in regular progress, all of which must be continued and augmented. This is the hand of God. It comes on us in His providence, and in conscientious obedience to religious convictions, as much and as plainly as persecutions came on our forefathers in the same cause. This is one trial of the faith, constancy, and courage of the servants of Christ-one preserving influence of zeal and purity in an age of ease and wealth, of too much conformity to the maxims, and too much subjection to the conventionalism of the world. But can these burdens be borne? Can these resources be obtained? Will not the voluntary
N. S. VOL. VIII.