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1. This mode of doing missionary business of a domestic nature, is suitable and proper in itself considered; and, although at first sight, it may seem to savor of bigotry and religious monopoly, yet, upon 'a nearer inspection, all ideas of this kind disappear. All denominations have a right to pursue the same course, and would, no doubt, find it much for their interest to do it, and then the whole community would be looked after and supplied.
2. If every State had its Convention, which would enter upon similar measures with a determination worthy of the object to be obtained, what a pleasing prospect would be exhibited before us, and how soon should we be able to speak with certainty of the actual state of our denomination throughout our country.
3. By this method of applying missionary aid, many of the evils of the old mode are avoided, and a number of important advantages are secured. Formerly ministers were drawn from their stated rounds of pastoral labors, for missionary employments, leaving, for a time at least, a melancholy waste behind, and for the most part, all if not more than all the benefits of their itinerant excursions were lost by their absence from their destitute Aocks at home. But the scantiness of their support, and the certainty of some additional aid for their missionary services, led them almost from necessity to accept of appointments of this kind. I would not altogether proscribe the itinerant system, for it is evident that, under certain circumstances, it is the best which can be adopted; but in an old, settled country, where a regular train of operations is adopted by all other communities, for the reasons already stated, the policy we are recommending has decidedly the preference. Again, judicious and timely appropriations to feeble churches towards the support of their ministers, serve to relieve them from the necessity of those secular avocations which have hung as the heaviest weight upon the Baptist ministry in this country. And, finally, this fraternal and extensive inquiry as to the temporal wants and capacities of both the ministers and churches, will have a natural tendency to detect that spirit of indolence, parsimony, and inattention, which, from age to age, like an accursed, blasting inheritance, has been entailed upon by far too many of our churches. I would not carry the matter so far as to infringe upon the liberty of churches or individuals ; and indeed, with our peculiar ecclesiastical government, but little danger on this head is to be apprehended. But it is certainly time that the friends of domestic missions should know when they are performing acts of real christian charity by their pecuniary appropriations, and when they are only perpetuating the evils they would remedy by sending missionary aid to those whose destitution arises from that criminal indifference, and that withering covetousness of which we have already complained.
4. The measures pursued by this convention will be likely to call into actual service a considerable number of ministers, who, for the want of sufficient encouragement, have devoted their main attention to worldly pursuits, and have, of course, made the business of preaching altogether a secondary concern. The public statements, if I mistake not, report ten or twelve hundred churches
of our denomination as destitute of pastors. This account may be literally true; and yet, to my certain knowledge, many of these churches thus reported, have ministers within their bounds capable of assuming the pastoral functions, if a little friendly aid of the nature of that we are now recommending were interposed on their behalf. So far as agencies for this object have been undertaken, their effects have proved salutary and helpful, and the list of destitute churches is rapidly diminishing. Striking proof of this position is afforded in the late movements of our denomination in the neighboring State of Connecticut.
How pleasing would be the sight, could we witness the whole range of our churches in one unbroken continuity throughout this extensive country, supplied with stated, active pastors, whose every power of body and mind was devoted to the welfare of their church. es, and the advancement of the Redeemer's cause. To this most desirable end we ought to aspire ; and I am fully persuaded that our duty and our interest consist inore in nursing up and providing for the churches already established, than in hurrying forward a multitude of feeble, pastorless, houseless communities, which swell indeed our numerical lists, but certainly do not add to our comfort or reputation.
And here I would observe, that when I see houses of worship, which have been built, for the most part, by the aid of public charity, standing desolate and forsaken, or falling into the hands of others, I am more and more convinced of the badness of that policy with reference to this matter, which too many of our people have too long pursued. I cannot consider it much gain to the cause of religion, or to the denomination implicated in the measure, to have a church without a pastor, or a house of worship without a stated preacher. There may be exceptions to this rule of judging, but in most cases I am satisfied that it will be found to be correct.
EDITORIAL REMARKS. With the writer of the preceding article we very heartily concur in most of the sentiments which he has expressed. They are sentiments which we hope our brethren generally, and those especially who conduct our domestic missionary operations, will not only admit, but act upon with all possible vigor and promptitude. Let the feeble churches be encouraged; and let the lukewarm and covetous be admonished. Alas! here is treachery in the very camp of the Lord. Here is a grievous wounding of him in the house of his friends—if friends they are! Let such churches as are willing to do according to their ability, be helped according to their need. And let those ministers of the word who are now obliged to consume their time and strength in secular employments, be enabled to give themselves wholly to the work of the ministry. What an immense accession would there then be to the amount of ministerial labor actually performed, and brought to bear upon the vital interests of the churches, and the welfare of perishing souls.
Every thing should be done that can be done to multiply the talents, and increase the usefulness of the ministers who are already in the field. Still there would be many destitute churches. How shall they be supplied? We must pray the Lord of the harvest, that he would send forth laborers. And we must do what we can to multiply the talents and increase the usefulness of those who give evidence of its being their duty to become preachers of the gospel. Especially must we be solicitous that every minister and every candidate for the ministry be a good man, and full of the Holy Ghost, and of faith. Still there would be many destitute churches; and still it might be asked, How shall they be supplied? It must be answered as before: We must, more fervently than ever, pray the Lord of the harvest that he would send forth laborers; and we must act consistently with our prayers.
In the mean time, even the feeblest churches can do much, and ought to do much, though destitute of a Pastor and of a meetinghouse. They can have preaching a part of the time. They can have useful (though perhaps comparatively private) meetings for prayer, and praise, and occasional exhortation, with the reading of the Scriptures, and some interesting and edifying discourse. They can help one another to exhibit a holy and winning example. Few and feeble as they may be, let them not be discouraged. If they love the truth as it is in Jesus, and the souls of men as they ought, they will not long be destitute of preaching. They will soon find the means of erecting a meeting-house, (and of paying for it,) that shall, in neatness and comfort, bear some proportion to the neatness and comfort of their own dwellings. In doing this, they that wait upon the Lord shall renew their strength. They will find themselves nearer or better able than before to support a Fastor; and one perhaps of their own number will be raised up to bear to them that endearing relation ; or one will be procured from abroad. Our own recollection supplies us with many cheering instances of this kind. Indeed, most of our churches that are now large and flourishing, have arisen thus from small beginnings, which, it is probable,“ did not add to our comfort or reputation.” But our correspondent, we presume, would be as unwilling as ourselves, to despise the day of small things.
Doubtless, new churches have sometimes been constituted, when it would have been better for the members to have continued members of some church already organized, or to have been considered as a branch, rather than to have been recognized as a distinct church. But then, to have a band of devoted, consistent Christians in circumstances in which they will be likely to feel the necessity of exerting themselves to the utmost for the common cause, will, it may be hoped, in most cases, be highly beneficial. To have a church, seems to us a very natural and direct way to have a pastor and a place of worship. Besides, a church is a kind of nursery, not only for private Christians, but also for ministers. Where brethren can enjoy church privileges, as they can in most of our populous towns, with some existing church of the same faith and order, it will generally be expedient to build a house first, and then be constituted into a distinct body. But circumstances are so various that, manifestly, no invariable rule can be given. It is certain, however, that no church which neglects its duty in regard to providing suitably for the maintenance of public worship, and preaching, and other pastoral services, can expect to prosper.
FAMILY LIBRARY. Messrs. Editors,
Being frequently asked for advice in the purchase of religious books, I have made out the following very brief list for insertion in your Magazine. It will, I trust, prove a convenience to many young heads of families who would be glad of a little direction in so important a measure as that of providing suitable reading for their households.
I am an ardent advocate of parochial and Sabbath School Libraries, but neither can access to such do away the necessity of owning valuable books, nor the owning of a good collection by many families in a congregation, obviate the necessity of such Libraries. Many persons would do well to give their old books, of which the family are tired, to the Church or Sabbath School Library, and purchase new ones. We ought to consider every book we possess as a talent from God, and lend it whenever we can. True it will get worn out in time, but how can money be made to do more good ?
Much pains has been taken to make this list short, and yet to name in it the best of the religious books, which can commonly be had in the bookstores. Buck’s Theological Dictionary. Flavel on Keeping the Heart. Brown's Dictionary of the Bible. Flavel's Touchstone of Sincerity. Butterworth's Concordance.
Scott's Force of Truth.
Memoirs of Miss Anthony.
Education and Nursery Discipline. Memoirs of Halyburton.
Life of Brainerd. Baxter's Saints' Rest.
The Christian Father's Present to his Doddridge's Rise and Progress.
Children. Jay's Lectures.
Life of Henry Martyn. Bunyan's Pilgrim's Progress.
Cox's Female Scripture Biography. Watts on the Improvement of the Mind. Scougal's Life of God in the Soul. Baldwin on Baptism.
Mede's Almost Christian.
Benedict's History of all Religions. Henry's Communicant's Companion. Keach's Travels of True Godliness. Mason on Self Knowledge.
Memoir of Mrs. Judson. Mather's Essays to do Good.
Thomas a Kempis' Imitation of Chr
Intellectual and Moral Culture. A Discourse, delivered at his In
auguration as President of Transylvania University, October 13, 1828. By Alva Woods, D. D. 8vo. pp. 20. Published at the request of the Trustees : Lexington, Ky.
CIRCUMSTANCES sometimes render it expedient, and sometimes inexpedient, that an Inaugural Discourse be delivered when a President or a Professor enters upon the duties of his office. Accordingly, the usage in this land of freedom is various; and it is generally left, in each case, to the good sense of the persons concerned to determine which may be the preferable manner. That President Woods and the friends of Transylvania University have done wisely in letting his inauguration call forth and present to the West and to the world the Discourse before us, we cannot doubt. It is a Discourse well adapted to the occasion; and, wherever it is read, it can hardly fail of having a salutary influence. It commences thus :
*My respected audience,—The subject which I have selected for the present occasion, is, Intellectual and Moral Culture.
• The infant enters on life in profound ignorance of his powers and destinies, and of the whole material universe. He endeavors alike to grasp the near flame which would consume him, and the distant orb which circles its way in yonder heavens. He is not more dependant on others for the aliment which is to nourish his body, than for the instruction which is to give growth and maturity to his mind. It is an ordinance of Heaven, confirmed by every injunction to an ancient patriarch to teach his children and his children's children, and by the command of Him who said, Go, teach all nations, that man is to be the instructer of bis fellow-man. Where this high ordinance is contravened, where no lights of knowledge are furnished, man can never rise above a mere animal existence. He may have the elements of mind; but they must remain without form and void, and shrouded in darkness deep and impenetrable as that which brooded over chaos before the first creation of light. In him may exist the germ of an intellect, which under genial influences would spread its opening beauties to the gaze of an admiring world. In him may sleep the strength and acumen of a Newton, or the wisdoin and valor and patriotism of a Washington ; but who shall wake his dormant energies, and point the way to glory and immortality ?
* The important bearings, on the higher destinies of man, of knowledge and of christian virtue, have been greatly overlooked. It appears not to have been well understood, that without knowledge there can be no useful exercise of virtue; and that without virtue knowledge cannot reach its highest elevations or accomplish its highest purposes. A consideration of some of the effects of knowledge and of christian virtue on our individual, social, political, and moral interests, may, at this time, well deserve attention.
Let me put it to the sober judgment of any man, for what inducements he would consent never to have any addition made, directly or indirectly to his stock of intellectual treasures? Yea, were it possible, let hiin take a retrograde course; let him annihilate one by one those treasures, and extinguish all the lamps of knowledge and wisdom and experience, which have been successively lighted up in his mind, and what would he give for his existence ?"
After some illustrations of the benefits of intellectual culture, the author proceeds:
• Man's connexion with those around him lays the foundation for a large portion of his present duties.