« AnteriorContinuar »
The principal part of the funds of these societies issues from "penny-a-week contributions.” A person can become a member of a branch society by paying a penny a week to its funds. This sum, however, is regularly collected, and not allowed to run in arrear, and be paid once a year, or even once a quarter. Were this to be done, a woful falling off in funds would soon be felt; for the people are poor; and though they can pay a penny a week, and scarcely feel it, there is, perhaps, no week in the whole year when they could spare the whole year's, or even one quarter's subscription. The collector calls regularly once a week, (generally on Monday) and receives their contributions. But an American will say, Who supports the collector ? for the labor of collecting such sums as are contributed in pennies, must be immense, and must be remunerated. Not so: like the ants, the collectors are numerous, and the labor for each, though considerable, is not burdensome. Young men and women are employed, and labor gratuitously in this work. Apprentices, who can only command fragments of time, employ those fragments in collecting for Bible and missionary Societies; and thus, as was before remarked, the co-operating agency of those who can do but little is secured, but the aggregate of their labor fills the world with their fame.
This weekly contribution of a penny, too, operates usefully on the forethought and self-denial of these poor people. If the collector were not expected, the sight of some tempting trifle in fruit, &c. would make them expend uselessly, what is now turned into a benevolent and religious channel; but it is known that he will come, and it is known when he will come, and the jeopardized penny is laid aside for him.
In proof of the efficacy of this system, the following fact will be sufficient, and perhaps here, surprising evidence. A young lady in London had alloted to her a district to canvass, and in which to collect for the Bible society. The poverty of the district may be conceived when it is stated, that every room in nearly every house, from the cellar to the garret, was occupied by a separate family. She commenced her work of visiting every family, and soliciting subscriptions, (for British Christians do not wait for persons to offer their names as members of Societies,) and soon had one hundred subscribers, at a penny a week. Now let us pause and look at this. Here is ninety-six dollars thirty-one cents a year brought in by one collector, (and she dependant on her own exertions for support, and consequently able to give but little time to the business of collecting,) from one, of perhaps forty districts in a parish, and that one pinched with a poverty to which the inhabi. tants of this happy land are utter strangers.
Again. Their system goes farther, and emulates that of Israelitish idolaters in their zeal for idol worship. “The children gather the sticks, and the men kindle the fire, and the women knead the dough to make cakes to the queen of heaven.” This is done by means of Male and Female, and Juvenile Societies, for various objects; and to these are added Sabbath school, missionary, and Bible and tract societies. Now the children in English Sabbath
schools are commonly poor; the children of parents who cannot afford to keep them unemployed during the week; and consequently cannot give them any other instruction than that which the Sabbath school affords. It may be thought, then, that no stream can be drawn from this source, which can replenish the reservoirs of Christian benevolence. But the fact is otherwise. It has been ascertained, by actual calculation, that Sabbath schools in England cost the religious community almost nothing : i. c. that the Bible, missionary, and tract societies which exist within the sereral Sabbath schools, contribute as much to the funds of those societies as are diverted from those to found and sustain the schools. The question, however, returns,-How, out of their deep poverty, are the riches of their liberality made to abound? The following fact will go far towards developing the principle.
A female teacher in a Sabbath school was endeavoring to excite in the minds of her class, a sympathy for the heathen, and an effort on their behalf. They pitied the heathen, and thought they could do no more ; but their teacher reminded them that there was more ribbon on their bonnets than was necessary to tie them, and that a plainer kind would do equally well; and that fruit and gingerbread were not absolutely necessary, and might be laid aside; she concluded by proposing to them to remove from her own dress superfluities, if iney would do the same, and to devote to missions what was thus saved. They consented, and a missionary society was formed in that class, upon the principle of the relinquishment of superfluities in dress, which extended through the female department of the school ; and the effect was, that the first quarter's missionary subscription of the children only, was twelve dollars ninety cents nearly. Here then is almost fifty-two dollars a year diverted from superfluous expenditure, and consecrated to the God of missions; to say nothing about the value of the habits of selfdenial, and of repressing the vanity of display, which were so formed.
But in collecting from among the poor, a benefit arises to the funds of benevolent societies from the value of British currency, being greater than that of the United States. The poor may, of course, be expected to measure their liberality by the lowest denomination in the currency: viz. pence in England, and cents in Arnerica. But as a penny is worth about two cents, the British Christian with one penny opposite to his name does twice as much as the American with one cent; and though much poorer, feels that he cannot do less than twice as much as his wealthier American brother.
Now it is an important inquiry to put to American Christians, Can nothing be done among us to render our contributions somewhat more like what they ought to be-something nearer, at least, to those of our transatlantic brethren ?
In answer to this question, I say something can be done; much can be done : but in order to the doing of it, there must be much concurrent physical, intellectual, and religious effort.
1. There must be much concurrent physical effort to accomplish it. There must be instilled in the minds of our youth of both sexes, the duty of contributing not money merely, but time, and personal labor. Convince them that it is their duty to go from house to house, and from person to person, and solicit subscriptions for these objects. The benefit to themselves and to others will be immense, both as regards body and soul. Health of body will be promoted in those whose callings are sedentary, by the exercise which sueh a course would furnish; and a lively interest in the benevolent operations of the day will be excited and maintained, by exertion to promote them: for it is a law of our nature, that we become interested in any object in proportion to our labors for its promotion. It will be useful to others also, in a similar way. To visit them week after week, and receive from them their mite in behalf of a religious object, is to retain vividly that object before their mind; and thus to interest them in its success. It has also a further beneficial influence on the funds of the society; for when its anniversary approaches, no effort is necessary on the part of the officers, to secure the attendance of members ; nor of speakers to enkindle a useful interest in the breasts of their auditory. All this has already been done by the collector's weekly visits; a large audience is certain, and an attentive and interested one; their hearts are open, and their purses also; and the liberal contribution testifies to the concern generally felt for the object of the institution. With these hints before them, let Ministers reflect, whether there is not a possibility of arousing and organizing considerable physical energy in the work. Let them touch the Christian principle in youthful believers, and not conclude that nothing more can be done, till every thing shall have been tried.
2. There must be much concurrent intellectual effort, in order to accomplish it. By this I do not mean great efforts of intellect; but only a general effort. Persons generally, must reflect on the difference between the value of guineas and that of dollars; and must remember that five dollars is little more than one guinea, and must let this reflection regulate the number of dollars which shall stand opposite to their names. In order to this, however,
3. There must be much concurrent religious effort : or, religious principle-conscience toward God, must be brought to bear upon this matter. We must ask and answer as in the sight of God, not only what is the proportion between a guinea and a dollar, but what is the difference between England and America ? Between a subject taxed to the very limit of endurance, and yet so taxed, giving his guinea; and a citizen scarcely taxed at all, and giving only his dollar? Whether we reflect on it or not, such a scrutiny will one day be instituted; for “ The Lord is a God of knowledge, and by him actions are weighed.”
When efforts such as these shall have been made among American Christians, the movements of our benevolent societies will be no longer impeded by want of funds, nor will the question be echoed from Maine to Florida, How is so much done by British Christians for the evangelization of the world ?
I was pleased to see in your last Magazine, the Hymn commencing with the line" Tell us, ye servants of the Lord.” But as the circumstances under which it was first written, are not stated correctly, you will permit one who was present at the time to describe them as they occurred.
About twenty-four years ago, Dr. Staughton, in addition to all his other labors, established a weekly lecture, at a private house in Southwark, Philadelphia. The apartment in which it was held was almost always crowded with solemn and attentive hearers. His faculties, at that period, were in their full vigour, and he preached “in the spirit and power of Elias, turning the disobedient to the wisdom of the just.” For several years a large proportion of those who joined the Baptist church in Second-Street, were either awakened, or obtained peace in believing, at these meetings. Such soulrefreshing seasons I have never witnessed, either before or since. I sometimes think of them as
* Joys departed, ne'er to be recalled.” I distinctly recollect, that at one of these evening meetings, a venerable grey-headed minister, who was blind, addressed the assembly from the words, "Sirs, we would see Jesus.” When he sat down, Dr. S. arose, and gave out the Hymn which you inserted in your last Number, and which he had composed during the delivery of the latter part of the sermon. Its effect on the audience was delightful; and I am glad that you have given it to your readers, not because it is a fair specimen of his poetic talents, but as it affords gratifying evidence of the facility and appropriateness with which he could express his thoughts in verse.
It is, I think, much to be regretted that no one has furnished you with a well written biography of Dr. Staughton. His services in promoting the interests of our denomination ought not to be for. gotten, and in many respects his example night profit his survivors in the ininistry. He was a learned, eloquent, and faithful servant of Christ. In labors he was abundant. In the summers of 1807 and 1808, he generally preached four times on the Sabbath, and seldom less than three or four evenings in the week. He also taught the higher branches of English studies in two respectable female seminaries, and a class of theological students at his own house, gratuitously, besides being the real editor of a religious periodical, published under the auspices of another, but large and intelligent, body of Christians. There are now more than thirty active and useful preachers of the gospel, who are chiefly indebted for their ministerial qualifications and influence, to the instructions and example of this eminent man. I trust some one of them, competent for the task, with that filial affection and respect which they all must cherish, will feel it a sacred duty to rescue his amiable character and invaluable services from oblivion. They will live indeed in the kind and grateful recollections of those who knew him longest and best; but they ought to be recorded for the benefit of succeeding generations.
FOR NOVEMBER, 1830.
SUBSCRIPTIONs and donations to the General Convention of the Baptist Denomination in the United States, for Foreign Missions, &c. should be transmitted to Heman Lincoln, Esq. Treasurer, at the Baptist Missionary Rooms, No. 52, Washington-Street, Boston. The communications for the Corresponding Secretary should be directed to the same place, as his residence is removed to the city,
BURMAN MISSION. ,
22. Lord's-day. Besides our usual congregation, and the Karens, we had
with us to-day, a young Tavoy named EXTRACTS FROM MR. BOARDMAN's Moung Hlay. He professes to have
been examining our Scriptures in a si
lent way for several months; but that Tavoy, Nov. 16, 1829. For some a full conviction of their truths, and time past, it has seemed to me very the folly of idolatry, have now comdesirable that the villages surrounding pelled him to avow a change of sentithe town, and ultimately those at a ment. He has been hanging round greater distance, should be visited, us for three weeks; has conversed with a design of more extensively dif- much to the satisfaction of our native fusing the knowledge of the gospel; Christians, and says he well knows he and I propose, with divine leave, to is incurring the scorn and odium of commence a course of village preach. bis old friends by his change of reliing to-morrow morning.
gion; but he is willing to bear it. I 17. Visited two villages north of have a little hope of him, but many the city, and communicated religious fears. instruction to the members of several 23. Visited a village east of the families, some of whom listened with town, when a priest, eighty-three serious attention.
years of age, listened very attentively 19. United in marriage, Moung to the gospel, and begged a book. Shway-bwen and Ma-Hnen, both of Twenty or thirty other persons listen. whom live in our family. The former ed to our doctrine, with different dewas baptized at Maulmein; the latter grees of attention. On my way home, is a native of Tavoy. She requested visited a kyoung, near the principal baptism a few weeks since. We have pagoda in town. The priest listened some hopes of her piety.
without opposition, and desired me to 21. Visited a village east of the repeat iny visit.
“I like what you town. Met several priests. Some op- say,” said he, “come again at an earposed; one listened and assented. Sev. ly part of the day.” Moung So, the eral of the coinmon people appeared to baptized Karen head-man's mother listen gladly. On our way home, met leaving died lately, he fears that the a company of Karens from a village other relatives of the deceased will near Moung So's, who bore an excel- wish to perform the heathenish cuisleot testimony in favor of those who toms practised among the people, subhave been baptized. We were the sequent to the funeral; and io counmore gratified at this, as our informant teract the bad effects of such practices, had formerly been rather unfriendly he proposes to erect a preaching zayat and unbelieving.
near the grave, and has invited KoOn arriving home sound several Ka- thah-byoo and his wife to go out with rens waiting for us; and shortly after him, and "hold forth the word of life," those three 'baptized persons came,
while the heathens around may be inabout whom we had just been inquir- dulging in their wicked customs. I ing. Glad to hear so good an account have consented to their going, and of them also froin their own lips. they are to leave to-norrow.