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men's souls? our efforts to recover and reclaim the dense mass of heathenism that is fast gathering around us? and, in reference to our own infant mission in particular, what are we doing to diffuse the spirit of the enterprize among the people? It is melancholy to observe, that, by the report of last year, more than one-half of our congregations have, during all that time, given no practical proof that they are at all interested in the cause. What then, it is natural to ask, what mighty movement are they employed in forwarding, that they have no resources left to apply to this? Are their silver and their gold so unreservedly devoted to the Lord in other ways, that they have not one poor offering left to lay at the feet of Christ, for the advancement of his Gospel in that form which, above all others, should be hallowed in their regards? or if no other means are forthcoming, have they no expressions of sympathy, no words of encouragement to address to the church, in reference to the great work in which she is engaged? Alas! it is to be feared that none of these suppositions will satisfactorily explain their conduct, and we are impelled to carry the inquiry further, and to ask whether, in part at least, it be not to the apathy of their ministers that we are to ascribe the apathy of the people. And is it so that we can style ourselves a renovated church, while, after all, there are those to be found among us, who, Sabbath after Sabbath, stand upon the loftiest eminence which mortals can ascend to, even upon the high ground of their commission, as ambassadors of Christ, and who can all the while be silent on a subject so invested with moral dignity and grandeur as the extension of the Gospel of the grace of God? I am aware, Sir, that this matter should be referred to with as much delicacy as possible, although, at the same time, I trust that no consideration of this kind will ever deter the church, or any of its members, from honestly and openly lifting a faithful testimony. These are not the times when sound words of reproof should be restrained, or when vain and idle compliments should be tolerated in the church of God. Action, resolute and united action, is imperatively called for in our day, and we are verily guilty concerning our brethren, if, while we see them slumbering on the post of duty, we do not warn them of their delinquency and danger, and if we do not call upon them to come forth and do valiantly, when the watchword runs along the lines of the armies of Israel, "To the help of God against the mighty."
After an expression of humiliation and regret on the ground
that so many of our ministers and people display so little zeal and liberality in furthering her missionary operations, and having devised measures by which, in part to remedy this evil, a number of resolutions were recommended to Presbyteries and Sessions, by adopting which they may carry into effect the general injunction of Synod at its last stated meeting. This injunction, as your readers may remember, was, that the various ecclesiastical compartments in the church do resolve themselves into missionary associations for the furtherance of the Synod's mission within their bounds. And here allow me to state, in justification of the measure which has been characterized as an injunction, that it accords with the whole spirit of our Presbyterian constitution. It is, as you are aware, one of the peculiarities of our ecclesiastical polity, that it can command a uniformity of management in all its departments; and that instead of simply dealing out advices which may be disregarded, it may issue forth its mandates with an authority not rashly to be contravened. In this respect it is similar in its administration to the early Christian churches, its jurisdiction being the same as that implied in the authoritative enactments, the dogmata kekrimmena of apostolic days. It is a remarkable fact, however, that in proportion as the Presbyterian Church, in any period of its history, has receded from the distinguishing doctrines of its early founders, just in the same proportion has it receded from the administration of their laws. Thus it is in the present day in England, where there is little left of Presbyterianism but the name. In that kingdon there was once a noble array of faithful worshippers, alike devoted to the interests of piety and Presbyterianism. But in the course of time another race arose, who forsook all their principles, introducing error into their pulpits, and laxity into their parishes, till such has been the downward course of English Presbyterianism, that with the exception of a remnant which has been preserved from the taint of heresy, it now presents the anomalous appearance of independency, under the garb of presbytery, having the form of both, without any portion of their spirit or their doctrines according to godliness. In the same position, as you know, we were nigh circumstanced ourselves, when so discordant were the materials that constituted our courts ecclesiastical, that unity of action was not much insisted on, because it could not possibly be attained. It is pleasing to reflect, however, that now with a return to our ancient standards of doctrine, we seem to be returning to our ancient forms of government
and order. Let us hope that such a spirit will, ere long, be ascendant in all our councils as will incline the brethren to submit themselves to one another in the Lord; so that an order proceeding from the highest tribunal among us, will be regarded as a sacred thing, to which all will feel solemnly called on to yield a willing and unhesitating obedience.
This much, then, for the principle of the injunction. In the resolutions engrafted upon it, the means are specified by which its objects may be forwarded by those to whom it is addressed. For the details I refer your readers to the 59th number of the Orthodox Presbyterian. Allow me to remark, in a general way, on the necessity that is laid on every minister of the Gospel to rouse his people to a sense of the importance of the great duty which the church now requires of them, namely, the duty of assisting, to the utmost of their means and influence, in forwarding the work of missions. Through some fatal supineness and indifference, the great bulk of professors in our day seem to forget that they have any thing to do with the dissemination of the Gospel and the advancement of the work of God. It is not practically felt, that if I am a Christian, I am not my own, neither is my property my own; but all is the Lord's. The high standard of Scripture requirement and devotedness has been let down, and members of the church have been allowed to enter it, without ever having been asked in seriousness, whether they are determined to devote themselves and their possessions to the glory of God. Accordingly, instead of counting it a privilege to bring their gifts to the altar, many are quite at a loss to know why we are so urgent and important in our calls upon their liberality, and a grudging and contracted spirit shrivels up the heart of Christendom. Now it is by the ministry that the true spirit of the missionary enterprize must be enkindled and inflamed. Each individual minister must invite attention to the subject from the pulpit, plying all with arguments, by which to engage their sympathies, their contributions, and their prayers. Nor will he find it a difficult or uninteresting part of ministerial duty; for the field it opens up to view is fascinating, and rich in scenes of moral loveliness and beauty. Standing at a distance, he can look abroad across the seas, and call upon the people to admire the salvation of God. He can tell them how the silence of the polar solitudes has been already startled by the preaching of the cross of Christ our Saviour; and how the simple hearers have believed. He can depict the goodly spectacle of gardens blooming in the wilderness, embowered with all the
flowers and lilies of the field, and fragrant with the perfume of the rose of Sharon. He can recount the trophies won amid the wastes of heathenism, and hung upon the cross; and thus, in a variety of ways, can he awaken an anxious and prayerful interest in the extension of the Gospel in the world. And if in addition to these appliances, his people were to be told, upon befitting seasons, of the toils and trials of those holy men who have gone to distant lands, and perilled all for Christ's sake and the Gospel's; were they to be made acquainted with the holy ardour and unwearied labourings of the Elliots and the Brainerds, and martyrs of other days; were they to hear the interesting story of the mingled joys and sorrows of those who, in the true spirit of apostleship, are now employed in the advancement of the good cause in other climes-away from the delights of home, and kindred, and all pleasant intercourse of men-then would they be drawn off from the paltry interests and vain janglings by which, alas! they often are engaged; the regards of every member of the church would be concentrated on an object glorious and ennobling, and the spirit of piety would burn in all our congregations with a holier. and intenser flame.
The first step, then, I would say, by which Presbyteries may promote the objects of the mission within their bounds, as they are now enjoined to do, is, by the diffusion of the missionary. spirit generally among the people. The quarterly papers which it is proposed to publish, will, it is hoped, be eminently helpful to the attainment of this object; and under the influence of these and similar appliances, we may yet expect to see the slumbering energies of the lay members of our church called forth in vigorous operation. Presbyteries must not, however, rest contented with merely awakening the spirit of the enterprize where it has been asleep; they should engage as Presbyteries, in making an aggressive movement upon the dark places that may be found adjacent to themselves. It is well known, that, in connexion with all our congregations, there are many whose Presbyterianism is merely nominal, inasmuch as they are, to all intents and purposes, in an out-field, where the influences of the Gospel are rarely brought to bear upon them. Some of them, it may be, are in poverty, and mourning over the departure of more prosperous days; and all of them are in a state of spiritual apathy and indifference, passing their Sabbaths as though it were no bereavement to be absent from the sanctuary, and debarred from Christian fellowship and converse. They are visited by the minister
in the course of his parochial rounds; but never, except on such occasions, do they come within the hearing of his voice. Now there are missionary labourers especially designed for them;-men who, in their humble walk, seek out these voluntary aliens from the commonwealth of Israel. Let not presbyteries or ministers be jealous of these unobtrusive heralds of the Gospel, but rather endeavour to increase their number-to open up their waypatronize their labours, that by this instrumentality something may yet be done to reclaim the moral wastes of Ulster, and revive among its neglected population the habits and the decencies of a Christian land.
In connexion with this topic, it should be mentioned, that Presbyteries could not more effectually promote the objects of the mission, than by taking into their most serious consideration the overpeopled congregations that may be found, in many instances, within their bounds. How is it that they can rest satisfied while so many of their number have to sustain the fearful responsibility of caring for a people so multitudinous, as to render it impossible for them to conduct any ministerial operation with success? Ought not some lawful measures to be taken by which to break down to manageable the now unmanageable congregations in the Synod of Ulster. And is a Presbytery doing its duty faithfully by a brother minister, if it ordains him to a charge which, from its magnitude, is evidently more than he can bear? or is it dealing faithfully by the people? O, Sir, I cannot conceive a case more pitiable than that of an inexperienced individual, when called to the pastoral oversight of a charge so numerous, that he must feel his total and complete inadequacy to the duties and responsibilities which it entails. Looking to the immense assemblage crowded before him on the Sabbath-and considering the extent of country over which they are scattered, he must be the subject of many painful feelings and anxieties. He would like to be the personal acquaintance of them all— he would delight in mingling with them in their families, and in becoming, on more relaxed occasions, the familiar and companion of their children. And he is sure that they would cherish the liveliest feelings of attachment for all his attentions, and prize all his friendly visitations. But he remembers that he is called to be a minister of the christian sanctuary, and that his pulpit preparations should be the prime object of his anxieties and prayers. Even in ordinary cases, where the calls to active duty are comparatively few and easily obeyed, this anx