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is disorganized, but simply unorganized. And in this connection we would say that we have hailed with pleasure the "Conventions of Local Ministers" which have been held for the past few years, as tending to inaugurate a new era in the operations of these brethren.
But whatever benefits may have resulted from these conventions, however pleasant it may have been for brethren from various places to meet and dwell together in unity, one thing is clearly evident, that no plan of organized effort has as yet been made for the salvation of the perishing thousands around us. As we have before said, our Wesleyan brethren from the beginning have had the advantage over us in this respect. Their circuit system has enabled them to give all their local preachers constant employment. There is not one of them in all their bounds who is not on "the plan."
Now what we want is a plan. It must needs differ, perhaps, in some of its particulars and details from the one referred to; but still we say, let us have a plan. Let our bishops give their wisdom and experience to the formation of such a plan. Let our presiding elders, in all their districts, see that the plan thus devised is faithfully carried out in every appointment, and let the aid of every pastor also be furnished to help forward the work. Then, if any local preacher refuses to do the work assigned to him, let his license be withheld. If any one is not faithful and punctual in doing his part of the work, and has no good reason to assign for his neglect, let his name be stricken from the plan, and let his license be taken away. The Church of God in general, and the Methodist Church in particular, wants no honorary members or ministers, unless it be those who are disabled by age and infirmity. Suppose now the plan adopted, the thousands of our local ministers organized into a compact working body, and the field of their labors marked out before them, what would be the sight gladdening the eye and the heart of the Church of God! It would be no less than that of eight thousand men, many of them men of culture, of ability, of good preaching talent, all of them men of God, called to the work, and sanctioned by the authorities of the Church, going forth on their mission and ministry of love on every Sabbath day, and frequently during the week. But the vision does not close here. Eight
thousand places otherwise destitute of gospel preaching, in the "city full and in the country waste," on the mountaintops and in the valleys, would be regularly and faithfully supplied. Eight thousand congregations, larger or smaller, would be gathered; and, if the work were persevered in, the same number of new societies would be organized.
Here then is an agency, right at our hand, already acknowledged; already in part at work; an agency which has planted the Gospel in various parts of the world, and which, with God's blessing, may yet plant it in still other destitute places.
The question before the Methodist Churches of America is, "Shall this really powerful and efficient force be left to occasional and desultory employment, or be organized so as to help forward the triumphs of the Redeemer's kingdom in the world?" We should not, we cannot close our eyes to the fact, that whatever may have been accomplished by this agency in the past, for the last several years its influence has been scarcely felt on the masses of the population of this country; and, if things go on as they have, it will not be many years before the office will cease to exist in our Church. Now we cannot afford to lose this arm of the service from our division of the Church militant. In fact, there probably never was a time when we needed it more than now. "The fields are white to the harvest." The "redemption" of the world is drawing nigh, and every available means and agency which is within our reach ought to be called into active and vigorous exercise.
The plan before referred to, if faithfully carried out, would not only benefit the destitute places of the land, but would exert a blessed reactionary influence upon the men themselves and upon the Church. Many of these men, as we have said, are actually "rusting out." They preach so seldom, that when they do they almost forget how. The harness is worn by them so little that it seems to fit awkwardly when they put it on. They feel this, and the people feel it also. But suppose these men to be harnessed weekly for the battle, to know that one sermon, at least, every week would be demanded of them, it is easy to see how this would lead them to pray more and study harder, and how that these exercises would tend to make
them more intelligent, earnest, and successful. And thus, kindled into a glow of divine love by the baptism of the Holy Ghost and of fire, they would arouse the Church through all its classes and prayer-meetings, while their zeal in the Master's service would be ever opening up new fields for the enterprise and liberality of its membership. This would greatly serve to do away with the prejudice against local preachers, and the unwillingness to hear them preach, which is now so much complained of.
To all this it may be objected, that "our local preachers are principally men of business or mechanics who toil hard from day to day, and that therefore they have not the time to devote to labor and study which the proposed plan suggests." To this we would answer, no man should desire, apply for, or receive a license to preach unless he is willing to devote a portion of his time to the duties of his calling. He should not seek the office because it will furnish him a position of greater honor and influence in the Church. Let it be distinctly understood that the office has neither honors, titles, nor emoluments connected with it. Its only honor is associated with its usefulness; its glorious reward is a crown of stars for the faithful laborer. It is not required of these men, as of the regular itinerant ministers, to "devote all their time. to the work of God;" but it is expected that they will devote a part of their time to it. Six days they may labor and engage in secular pursuits; but their nights and mornings and Sabbaths should be especially set apart for God in fulfilling their work, and "making full proof of their ministry." If any man should think more of business speculations or his professional calling than of souls, he had better give up his license at once, and not stand in a position which he is evidently unfitted to occupy.
We have written thus earnestly upon this subject because we regard it as one which demands the immediate attention of the authorities of the Church. And if any words of ours shall serve to call the attention of the bishops, presiding elders, pastors, or local preachers themselves to the importance of adopting a plan for the future labors and triumphs of these ministers of Christ we shall be heartily rejoiced, and feel that we have not written in vain.
It was thought by the venerable Perronet, the vicar of Shoreham, that "Methodism was designed to introduce the millennium." If that sublime vision of her destiny is realized, her local ministry are to share in the labors required for it, and to participate in its coming glory. We have no doubt whatever, that this great branch of evangelical Protestantism is prepared in her machinery, under God, for this work and this glory. God forbid, that by a failure to employ our mighty resources, we should come short of either!
ART. V.-REVIEW OF SIR CHARLES LYELL ON THE "ANTIQUITY OF MAN."
FOR thirty-five years the writer of this article has been wandering over the continent of North America in the character of an Indian missionary, studying Indian languages and natural phenomena. In this character he has explored the region from Texas to Hudson's Bay; has traced more rivers than almost any other man, and has devoted special attention to their laws of change and general phenomena. Fluviology, river-study, is as much a science as geology or botany, and as much worthy of a niche in the great temple of human knowledge by itself. It is from this source mainly we purpose to draw our evidences of the recent origin of the present order of things.
Sir C. Lyell, on page 205, expresses the opinion that it is possible to "render the delta of the Mississippi available as a chronometer by which the lapse of post-pliocene time could be measured." In this opinion we most fully concur.
Mr. Darwin, in his work on the "Origin of Species," allows us to suppose that fourteen hundred millions of generations of animal life have passed since its first creation on our globe. And Sir C. Lyell and others inform us that their discoveries justify the conclusion that North America has been peopled by man fifty or even one hundred thousand or more years.
I. THE PEAT BOGS OF DENMARK.
On page 16 of Mr. Lyell's work we find an account of some peat bogs in Denmark in which, at a great depth, forest trees and the works of man have been found in such positions as is supposed to justify the inference that Denmark has been peopled by man for a period of from four thousand to sixteen thousand or more years. It must be borne in mind that these peat bogs are all formed in hollows in the drift formation, and that man existed before the drift. The bones and works of man are found mixed promiscuously with vast amounts of the bones of extinct races of animals, as well as of those that still exist.
The peat bogs of Denmark show three changes in forest vegetation. Near the bottom of the bogs are found Scotch firs, and the works of man; above these, oaks are found, and the works of man showing an advance in civilization; and above all beech trees are found, which is almost the only tree now indigenous in Denmark. It is argued that, to produce this growth of peat and these several changes in the entire forest vegetation, it requires a vast lapse of time and great changes in the climate.
In hundreds of places in the northern part of our continent I have seen these changes in the forest vegetation. In the very nature of things, it is impossible for these old fir forests to remain for many ages. The moss that always accumulates on the trees and on the ground in these gloomy forests, impervious to sun or wind, and the rosin that exudes and accumulates on the trees, will, in time, insure their destruction by fire just as certainly as the prairies are thus consumed. I have often seen these old forests burning, sometimes a whole hill or mountain-side enveloped in one sheet of flame. After their destruction we invariably found another species of tree occupying the vacant space. In this way the destruction of the fir forests of Denmark and the substitution of the oak can be accounted for in one hundred years.
Sir Charles Lyell informs us there were a few oaks and beech trees mixed with the firs from the beginning. Suppose then during a very dry season a fire swept through these old forests of fir, it would destroy them with all their cones