Billeder på siden
PDF
ePub

The adults baptized the last year were 3,389; and the infants 10,790; making a total of 14,179 baptisms; which exceed those of the year ending May 1st 1827, by 785.

From six Presbyteries no returns have been made this year, of ad. ditions to the church, baptisms and pecuniary collections. In the eighty-four Presbyteries which have reported, are included several hundred churches which have made no returns, last year, to their res. pective Presbyteries.

The funds collected and reported in the following tables, are 823,993. 59 for Missionary purposes; 82,851. 36 to defray the travelling expenses of coinmissioners to the General Assembly; 8516. 13 for the clerk hire, and other contingent expenses of Presbyteries; 83,353.69 in aid of Theological Seminaries; and $8,023.29 for the education of poor and pious youth who have in view the gospel ministry.

'The vacant churches actually returned are 591; but we may safe. ly say, since six Presbyteries are not brought into the account, that there are now 636 churches, duly organized in our connexion, whiclų have neither pastors nor stated preachers; nor any but occasional Missionaries to break unto them the bread of life. Our licentiates and candidates amount to no more than 436 persons; so that were they all actually settled in our vacancies, 200 congregations would remain destitute of spiritual guides. Before, however, our candidates can be fitted for, and introduced to their work, new congregations will be multiplied more rapidly than preachers; unless our la. inentable deficiency in the number of our labourers should discourage their organization in the Presbyterian form. Of our ministers, 226 supply 502 churches; being intrusted with from two to four each. Of our ininisters, thirty are pastors of congregational charches, not under the care of any Presbytery.

ADDRESS OF THE EXECUTIVE COMMITTEE
OF THF BOARD OF MISSIONS OF THE

PRESBYTERIAN CHURCH.
To the Churches and Congregations under the care of the General Assembly

of the Presbyterian Church in the United States. FRIENDS AND BRETHREN,—The Executive Committee of the Board of Missions, recently appointed by the supreme judicature of our Church, beg leave affectionately to address you, on the unspeakably important concern of Christian Missions. Among the many and solemn duties devolved upon the committee, we consider this as one of the greatest importance, and as one that first demands attention. We so consider it, because it really depends on you, under

God, whether our appointment shall be useful or useless. Without your countenance and patronage we can do nothing; but if you favour our views and operations, we do hope to be the humble instrnments in the hand of our dear and common Lord, to promote his cause and kingdom-may we presume to say exlensirely.

BRETHREN, ---At the lowest estimate, there cannot be much short of five hundred millions of immortal beings of our fallen race-sinners like ourselves who have never so much as heard the name of that Saviour in whom is all the sinner's hope. The three hundred remaining millions, which go to make up the population of our globe, are largely composed of Jews, Mahometans, blind adherents to the Roman and Greek superstitions, heretics, formalists, and nominal Christians of all descriptions-leaving the true disciples of Christ. the real children of God, emphatically "a little flock.” And if our Divine Redeemer had not commanded this little flock "not to fear," they might well tremble when they contemplate the situation in which they are placed: and it he had not assured them that it is their Father's good pleasure to give them the kingdom," and that the greatness of the kingdom under the whole heaven shall be given to the people of the saints of the Most High," they inight at once gire up the hope that the mighty host of their enemies who are also the enemies of God and of his truth, shall eventually be subdued, and become the willing and obedient subjects of our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ. But having such assurance, we faint not; we distrust not; we doubt not Zion's king is Almighty. “Hath he said, and shall he not do it?" When we look to him, and think of his sure word of prophesy and promise, we see, that let the powers of earth and hell be what they may, still there is, by an infinite disparity, more for us than there is or can be against us; and with unwavering confidence, we look forward to the time, when the kingdoms of the world shall become the kingdoms of our Lord and of his Christ."

But it must be remembered, brethren, that although in accomplishing this mighty and desirable change, “the excellency of the powered will be of God," so that his may be all the glory, yet it is equally true, that in performing his great work, he will inake use of human instruincntality, at every step. Yes, and he will make it an awakened, active, energetic instrumentality-an instrumentality that will cry unightily to himn in the prayer of faith; and will not rest in prayer without alms—without giving much and doing much—without being devoted unreservedly, in talents, character, influence, property, and effort, to the accomplishment of the destined object.

It is a most encouraging fact, that after a sleep of ages, the church

militant has, within half a century, bugun to awake, and that more has been done, within less than that period, for the conversion of the world, than in the fifteen preceding centuries. Every denomination of Christians, holding the leading doctrines of the Protestant refornation, is now engaged in missionary enterprises, both foreign and lomestic. Yet in none of these churches is the missionary spirit o much awake as it ought to be, and as it must be, before the glorius things foretold in scripture prophecy can receive their accomilishment. As a part or portion of the church universal, the church o which we belong is, we verily believe, chargeable with great and riminal neglect; nor are we ignorant that much of this neglect has y some bcen imputed to that Board of Missions, to which we have ucceeded. But the minutes of that Board are in our possession, ind we hesitate not to say, that we are persuaded that no missioniry association in our country, has made a better or more efficient ise, than that Board, of the funds put at its disposal. The truth is, hat of late, the greater part of the missionary concerns of our church, from causes which we shall not now investigate-have passed into other hands than their own into hands, we admit, that have been neither inactive nor unsuccessful in their management; and in whose success we, with others, most sincerely rejoice. But let not the Board of Missions of our church, be censured, for not having done what that church has not hitherto enabled it to do. Nor let a fact, well known to us, be kept out of sight--that a large proportion of the members of our denomination, dissatisfied with existing arrangements, or left in apathy for want of the proper means to stimulate them, have not contributed to any missionary funds to such extent as we are persuaded they would have done, but for the causes here assigned—and as we fully believe they will readily do, when those causes no longer exist.

Suspect not, brethren, that we wish to excite or cherish in your minds a bigotted or sectarian spirit. We disclaim it utterly: and that we may not be misunderstood, we beg to make a full and frank arowal of our real wishes and views. We say then, that being on conviction and by choice Presbyterians--having given a decided preference to the doctrine and order of the Presbyterian Churchwe think that, on every principle of consistency, we are bound to support that church. We further say, that it is our wish that this caurch should send forth missions, both to the heathen and to her own destitute population-believing that the church is bound to this, by the explicit command of her glorified Head to disciple the nations--and to preach the gospel to cvery creature;" and that in

[ocr errors]

obeying this command, the universal church cannot convenienti act, nor at present act at all, but as it is divided into those various denominations, to each of which the members that compose it have formed a special and conscientious attachment-believing also, that our church can be stirred up to far greater exertions in the missionary cause, by her own oflicers and agents, acting by her appointment, than by any individuals, however personally respectable or influential, whom she does not appoint nor direct, and who owe to her do peculiar responsibility. These, brethren, are honestly our views and wishes; and we have none more sectarian than these, in regard to the duty of our church relative to missionary concerns. If by a wish we could engross the missionary business of our country, that wish should not be formed. We have no desire to hinder, or to interfere with, any evangelical missionary operations, by whomsoever conducted, but te promote them. We are cordially willing to concede to others alt that we claim for ourselves. We are desirous to treat as brethren all missionary associations, which recoguize those great principles of the Protestant Reformation to which we have alluded. With all suci associations we wish to maintain the most friendlyintercourse; yea, we repeat it, to afford them all the aid in our power. And we do firmly be lieve that by each acting with vigour in its own appropriate sphere, anu by all mutually cherishing a spiritot fervent christian charity,more may be done in evangelizing the world-far more-than if all were analgamated. For ourselves, we can truly say, there is not an evangelical mission now in being, in whose success we do not unseigoedly rejoice, and for which we do not give thanks to God. And why should taterference be the subject of alarm or apprehension, when the field is the world,” and when the harvest is so great, and the laborers 50 few. There is surely room enough for us all, without any collision, were we even a hundred fold more numerous than we are. Some amicable arrangement among the different missionary corps may be of use; and we are ready to enter into them with all who are prepared tu meet us. With the American Board of Commissioners for Foreign Missions, of which some of this committee are members, and with the Home Missionary Society to which many of our dear brethren, both of the clergy and laity, are known to belong, we have already pened, and hope constantly to maintain, a friendly correspund. cice.

We have given the foregoing explanations, brethren, to prevent all misapprehension of our aims and wishes; and we beg that ou statement may be kept in remembrance.

Suffer us now to lay before you some of the measures which

ve

respectfully submit, as most likely, in our judgment, to be effectual for the obtaining of those funds which will be essential to support the inissionary operations we contemplate-premising that what we offer is to be regarded only in the light of suggestion or recommendatior. We wish that all contributions should be perfectly voluntary, and that the churches should take such measures to aid our funds, as shall be most pleasing to themselves. But having given much attention to this subject, we will specify a number of methods, in which we hope to obtain contributions; not supposing that all the methods mentioned will be adopted in each congregation, but only such, if any, as shall appear most proper and expedient, to those whose province it may

be to make a selection. 1. The General Assembly have often and earnestly recomiended to all the congregations under their care, to take up annually one collection, for the use of the Board of Missions. This recommendation has been repeated by the last Assembly, and we hope it will not be in vain. We take leave to suggest that in congregations visited by our agents, this collection may advantageously be taken up, after a discourse delivered by an agent, with some reference to this subject.

2. We recommend that an effort be made to engage every cominunicating member of our church, to contribute fifty cents annually, to the Missionary funds of the General Assembly. You will perceive that what we here propose, is a contribution of not quite a cent per week: and this we think can be given without even a sensible privation, by the very poorest communicant in our church. And yet if all our communicants would punctually and perseveringly make this contribution, the amount would form a sum twenty times as great as that which the Board of Missions have, for many years past, had at its disposal. But important as this would be to our funds, it is connected with a consideration still more important. We do wish that every one who makes a solemn profession of the religion of Christ, should feel it to be a personal and sacred duty to do something to send that blessed religion to those who are deprived of its soulsaving benefits. If this truth—for an unquestionable truth we takeit to be- if this truth were felt, as it ought to be felt by all professing Christians, we should never want funds; and we should have them too accompanied with those earnest prayers, which would draw down a blessing on the Missionary labours, to the support of which the funds were destined. We also consider it not only as a duty, but also as a precious privilege, for the Lord's poor, who are often s rich in faith,” to east their mites into his treasury-On such dona

« ForrigeFortsæt »