Billeder på siden

stumbling-block be taken out of the way, so that no in-, dividual in the ministry among us will have any pretext for, coming forward on the Sabbath with a meagre and superficial exposition of the oracles of God.

In order that our Presbyteries may prosecute missionary operations with success, might I be allowed to suggest that they must be more frequently convened? Every one must see that, as matters are at present, there is not time to do any thing efficiently in furtherance of the missionary cause. At Presbyteries, students must come before their seniors, to give, evidence of their attainments, and their capacity to edify the church; cognizance must be taken of ministers and congregations; appeals and grievances, if such exist, must be attended to these things press upon every ordinary meeting of Presbytery, so that when these are adjusted, it is impossible that due time can be devoted to any other objects, how paramount soever they may be. By more frequent meetings, however, ministerial intercourse would be promoted-the hearts, and hands of brethren would be strengthened-and more enlarged plans would be adopted, by which to diffuse the spirit of every good and generous enterprize. It would soon be found, too, that ministers and people would begin to vie with one another in the high and noble rivalry—and that instead of looking forward to the stated meetings of the Presbytery as to, seasons dedicated to discussion and debate, they would regard them with high anticipation as seasons of refreshing from the presence of the Lord.

Lest I should be tedious, I proceed to notice cursorily the concluding resolutions. The sixth deplores the scantiness of labourers, and urges that all encouragement be given to youths of piety and talent to devote themselves to missionary service. Alas! that such a recommendation should be necessary; and that christian parents should be so slow to dedicate their sons of promise to the ministry. It is surely very grievous in the sight of God, that parents should be so intent on the worldly aggrandizement of their children, and that so many are devoted to business, or the pursuit of a profession, who would, under other treatment, have made good soldiers of the cross, and faithful sentinels on the walls of Zion. Especially is it to be deplored, that those in the more elevated walks of society should send forth so few equipped and accoutred champions, while the church is calling loud for help, and so many favourable openings are presenting themselves. Do they consider it as a descent in the scale of respectability, when any individual

of superior means and prospects devotes himself to the service of the church of God? Have they forgotten how many of the old Scottish nobility dedicated to the Kirk the flower of their families, without one stain on their escutcheon, or one blemish on their fame ? Or do they look upon it as beneath

them to train their children to that office which was sustained by our blessed Lord himself, and which has enrolled among the number of its functionaries, many of the noblest and most devoted spirits that have ever adorned humanity? Let them cherish these feelings if they please; but let the ministers of the gospel magnify their office, and when they find a youth of piety and promise, in whatever circumstances, let them impress it upon him, and all connected with him, that his highest aim should be to join that goodly company, of whom God has said, "Ye are the messengers of the churches, and the glory of Christ."

In the seventh resolution it is proposed, that ordained ministers of suitable qualifications, shall hold themselves in readiness to occupy whatever missionary stations they may be called to in the providence of God. In justification of this resolution, I wish I could present you with an extract of a letter from a private individual in one of our stations in the south, which was read, I believe, at the last meeting of the directors of the mission. It set forth, in very happy phrase, the superiority of placed and experienced clergymen as itinerants, over those of shorter standing and inferior attainments, and expressed what, I am sure, must be the conviction of every one who has ever thought upon the subject, that, in order to thrive at all, the enterprize must be ably, as well as perseveringly, sustained. What would you think of the prudence of that general who would station a number of undisciplined recruits upon the outposts of his army, where they would be most in danger from the foe? and how, in like manner, can the church expect success in any of her enterprizes if her frontier positions be not well manned and fortified→→→ if their defenders be not armed at all points, as the champions of such a cause should be? Let not the church at home, then, grudge their fellow-countrymen in other parts, the services of her ablest and most accomplished sons. This northern province where we live, would not have been provided with the ministrations of religion as it has been, but for the services of those experienced labourers in the vineyard, the Blairs, the Welshes, and the Livingstons, of other days. And neither, I am persuaded, will Presbyterianism strike its roots deep in the

land, as I firmly believe it is destined at no distant day to do, unless under an efficient and careful cultivation. There may be found, it is true, some of the young men in the body who are endowed with gifts suited to missionary labour; but it is to our men of more enlarged experience that the eyes of the church should be directed, with a view to their taking possession of the vast field that now lies before her. During the past year, one such individual has left a comfortable northern settlement, renouncing many private gratifications for the gospel's sake. I am sure that God will not leave his servant desolate or forsaken, and that he will have no reason to lament even the greatest sacrifice he may have made. May this noble example of self-denying zeal be imitated more and more, till many others of the brethren shall be pervaded with a kindred spirit, and shall say, in reference to many a now-benighted portion of our island, "Let us go up and possess it." They may indeed experience privations and the want of much in which they formerly delighted, as christian and ministerial intercourse. But there will be inward satisfactions, such as those who remain behind will not be privileged in the same measure to enjoy. And in that day when Jehovah maketh up his jewels, no gem shall shine more brightly in the mediatorial diadem, than the saintly spirit of him who hath forsaken his home and kindred that he might seek out the dispersed of Israel, and gather them into the good Shepherd's fold.

I shall not trouble you with any observations on the contemplated metrical version of the psalms, as you will find the subject very happily treated in the communication of a friend and brother minister, which I send you for insertion. Nor shall I enter now upon the subject of the Canada mission, inasmuch as the arrangements for its establishment are not yet sufficiently matured.

And now allow me, after this brief notice of the late proceedings, to congratulate the church to which we belong on the position she has gained, and to express a hope that she will go vigorously forward. It is pleasing to reflect, that when, by the grace of God, she has become alive to the importance of missionary operations, her members have only to resolve and say, "Let us in the strength of God act as a missionary society," and if but rightly wielded, there is sufficient ecclesiastical machinery within her reach for all the objects of christian philanthropy, however vast and varied these may be. This is a characteristic of Presbyterianism, of which I would rejoice to see a practical illustration in these

[ocr errors]

days. To a careful observer of the times, it must be evident that the separate portions of the church in Christendom, must combine as churches for the work of missions, else the work will not be done at all. In England, a politico-religious strife seems likely to estrange the hearts of Churchmen and Dissenters from each other, and to dash all those common councils in which of latter days they had engaged. Bible and missionary institutions quake before the storm; and even in Scotland her missionary society is in danger, by reason of that unholy warfare madly waged against a church that ought to be enshrined in the affections of every patriotic and christian bosom. The missions that are conducted by individual churches, as those of the Wesleyan, Baptist, and Episcopal denominations, are managed by an instrumentality corresponding to that of Sessions, Presbyteries, and Synods; and if they are conducted well, it is because the agency employed in the conducting of them is modelled after ours. Now, in such circumstances, it were well if the peculiarities of our Presbyterian constitution were held up to view, that, even after the breaking up of those existing institutions which have so characterized this age, it might appear with what success we could engage in missionary labours, simply by combining, as a church, to work that mighty engine God has put within our power: and that those churches which have engaged as such in missionary operations, should begin to see that they had thus been acting upon Presbyterian principles, and should make an effort to introduce into their ecclesiastical polity something of the spirit of a more efficient administration. And oli! that under the potency of celestial influences, our Zion should thus become a model of efficiency to every other and that for practical zeal and usefulness we should become a praise and admiration in every land!

Finally, may I be allowed to say, that the success of this and every other enterprize must, under God, depend much upon the junior members of the church. It is, indeed, a favourable symptom for our beloved Zion, that in order to provoke them to schemes of usefulness, she should court and countenance even the youngest of her children. Her men of war, to whom she is much indebted, will soon rest from their labours; they will then hear the din of battle and sound the alarm no more. Their asperities and failings will be forgotten, or contemplated in the mild and mellowed light that memory sheds upon the graves of the departed. Those that remain must then succeed them in the warfare. They will be at once the standard-bearers and the counsellors in the camp

of Israel. And as the trumpet-call convenes their solemn assemblies, they must come forth upon the battlements to display their banners, nothing intimidated by the number or the opposition of the foe. Perhaps some may consider this a too lofty phrase in which I write; it may be conceived that there is no occasion to illustrate their future movements by the similitudes of war. I hope, indeed, that our intestine strifes are at an end, and that we have, in a good part, emerged out of the element of controversy, ill calculated as it is to promote that unity and calmness in which the Holy Spirit loves to dwell. Still there is a warfare to be sustained by every church, and every individual that would witness to the truth. The "fears within" may terminate, but the "fightings without" can never. And oh that when we have finished our course in the church militant, there may remain a far more faithful generation, who in a holy zeal for her prosperity, shall walk about our Zion, and mark well her bulwarks, saying: "This God is our God for ever and ever; he will be our guide even to the death."

With best wishes for the success of your excellent and useful miscellany, I am, Sir,

Yours, very sincerely,


MARK Xii. 26, 27.


Ir may appear to some that this quotation contains a very obscure recognition of the doctrine of a future state. There are, indeed, many other passages in the Old Testament where the principle is more directly and explicitly inculcated. (See Job xix. 25-27; Psalm 1. 3-6; Daniel xii. 2, 3.) It is said, however, that the Sadducees assigned a higher degree of authority to the writings of Moses than to the rest of the Hebrew Scriptures, and this was probably the reason which induced our Lord to single out the testimony before us. It is taken from Exodus iii. 6. It is the address of Jehovah to Moses at Horeb. Our Saviour here argues from the application of the word "God." This word is indicative of that covenant relationship which subsists between Jehovah and his people. Hence it is written in Jeremiah xxxi. 33: “This

The Hebrew word signifying God (Elohim) is derived by lexicographers from alah, he sware. In ancient times, covenants were confirmed by an oath. See Gen. xxxi.


« ForrigeFortsæt »