Sidor som bilder

the question. Never shrink from attendance on Church Courts because they may sometimes be unpleasant and consume time. Some must attend, and why not you? Watchfulness over ourselves is never more needed than in Church judicatories. You should strive to say or do nothing that would cause surprise among

your friends, give occasion for disparaging remarks, or lessen your future influence. Above all, never go to a Presbytery, or Synod, until you have earnestly sought God's guidance. Many things are likely to occur, for which nothing can so fully prepare you as God's presence and a lively sense of it.


Letters to the Editor of the " English Presbyterian Messenger."

SIR,-In looking over the collections
made by the congregations of our Church,
on behalf of the various Schemes, during
the year 1854, I have been surprised by
the facts which the treasurer's accounts
reveal; to some of which I beg, through
the columns of the "Messenger," to draw
the attention of Sessions and Presbyteries.
Assuming as I understand it-that
the order of the Supreme Court of our
Church is most peremptory with respect
to the universality, uniformity, and
punctuality with which collections should
be made, I cannot help concluding that
some Sessions and Presbyteries are very
much to blame for the practical defiance
-for it amounts to this-at which they
set the command of the Synod.

First. The Synod instructs all congregations, without exception, to give, and the congregations, by their representatives, solemnly engage to attend to the instruction given.

But is this done by all? Is faith kept with the Synod, so as to enable it in its turn to keep faith with Christ, its alone King and Head, in hastening the coming of his kingdom, both at home and abroad? Is the allegiance claimed by and due to that venerable body duly recognized and practically advanced?

Let the blanks which appear in the annual accounts, reply, as they do, in the negative.

What then are we to say in regard to the non-giving or partial-giving congregations?

Why, we are driven to one of two conclusions respecting them; either that they view the command of the Synod as

merely partaking of the nature of an advice or recommendation, to be regarded or disregarded at their own optionwhich, I need hardly say, is sheer Independency, or they look upon it as an order which may be disobeyed with impunity-which is intolerable indifference, or something worse.

But if congregations be guilty of the former-the sin of ignorance-they should be forthwith instructed on the nature of the relation in which they stand to the Synod; and if chargeable with the latter, they should be admonished or, if need be, censured, and compelled to discharge the Scriptural duty which the Synod has enjoined.

I can easily understand the facility with which Independents regard or disregard the recommendations or advices of their Congregational Union, but cannot conceive, for a single moment, how any Presbyterian congregation can openly avow its belief in the right of the Synod to govern it, and at the same time deliberately refuse to carry out its instructions.

My conviction, however, is that congregations are not so culpable in regard to the dereliction of duty complained of as are Sessions, and especially Presbyteries.

If all the ministers and Sessions of our congregations were wont to instruct their people that each scheme of the Church has an undoubted claim upon their liberality, as possessing all the weight of a moral obligation, and that to shrink from giving to each as God may have prospered them, is to incur the displeasure of the Great King and Head of the Church,

then most assuredly the state of the Church's finances would be much more prosperous than it now is.

That there are many of our ministers and elders who press upon the attention of their people the duty of contributing to all the schemes, I know; but that there are some, and these not a few, who, in some instances, wholly neglect it, and in others carelessly discharge it, I am also compelled to acknowledge.

But nothing is more easy than for Presbyteries to insist upon, and if need be, compel the careless congregations within their bounds to do their duty: and if the Synod were to set apart a portion of its time to ascertain from Presbyteries their reasons for allowing any of their congregations, whilst contributing to some schemes, to withhold their contributions from others, I venture to say, that it would be productive of much good to our own Church and to the cause of Christ generally.

Second. With regard to uniformity in the matter of giving, it is of the utmost importance.

When the members of a congregation are accustomed regularly to cast their offerings into the treasury of the Lord, | they come to regard it as a matter of course, and they reckon upon giving these offerings at the appointed times, and allow them their places as items in their yearly expenditure. I have the pleasure of knowing some Christians who put aside their contributions for collection Sabbaths as regularly as their minister's stipend, or their house rent, or any other item of their current outlay. And I think it is, at the least, highly injudicious not to afford them the opportunity of presenting of their substance to God at the times specified by the Synod for that purpose.

I know that very plausible apologies, such as local efforts, &c., may be and often are offered in justification of irregularity in the discharge of duty or even of totally neglecting it. But the discharge of one duty never can be received as an apology for the non-discharge of another of equal, or it may be of greater importance. "There is a time for everything," and the wise Christian always aims at doing everything in its time.

Third. Then, as to the punctuality enjoined by the Synod, it is highly desirable to comply with it; and unless there be attention paid to it generally confusion must ensue. It is true circum

stances may arise that would render it undesirable or inexpedient to make the collection on the day fixed; but such ought ever to be regarded as the exceptions, not the rule. Indeed, there is one circumstance which, I venture to submit, should always occasion delay, and that is inclement weather.

It seems to me especially needful, in our rural congregations, for the ministers to defer making the collections on the days appointed provided the weather be inclement.

This might not be so practicable, nor indeed would it be so necessary, in large town or city charges, owing to the comparatively short distances at which members live from the churches; but even in the latter there could be no great difficulty in the city ministers requesting the portions of their flocks present on an unfavourable collection Sabbath, to keep their offerings in retentis until their brethren should be present on the ensuing or some early Lord's-day.

But I may be told that ministers could not take such liberties with their people without incurring their displeasure.

That they might incur the displeasure of a few, I admit, but that they would be found fault with by the great bulk of their people, I deny. In every congregation of ordinary or large dimensions there are a few ready to "make a man an offender" for an act performed from the highest and holiest motives; but ' there is also an amount of collective equity and Christian feeling which will more than counterbalance any such limited opposition, and upon which a devoted, single-minded minister may safely calculate, when he feels himself called upon, with a view to the furtherance of Christ's cause, to depart occasionally from routine.

The evils arising from some congregations giving and others withholding what they owe to God, are manifold: permit me to advert to two of the worst.

First. The giving congregations, in many instances, contribute much less than they would provided the law were universally enforced and obeyed; for they very naturally say, "If others are allowed to slip, why may not we? If the Presbytery wink or connive at the neglect of our neighbouring congregations, in which there are so many people in comfortable circumstances in life and well able to give, would it not be a work of supererogation on our part to

do more than our neighbours and coreligionists."

of the foundation-stone of St. Andrew's Presbyterian Church, Sheffield, and of our Evening Tea Meeting.

At the Tea Meeting I introduced a scheme to raise 1,000l., by small subscriptions, during the building of our church; and, assum

I do not wish it to be understood that I have any sympathy with this erroneous and unscriptural view of individual and congregational responsibility, or that I admit the above argument to be sounding the subscriptions to average one shilling

far from it; I look upon it as most unsound and fallacious; still it is the argument used by many, and it will continue to be used until all be obliged to do their duty.

The second evil growing out of the present want of system in our non-giving or partial-giving congregations is, that they not only exert a bad influence on those that give, but they fail to attach due importance to the duties of religion generally, and to the duty of giving to Christ's cause in particular. In course of time they come to have low notions of ministerial support, and of the ministerial office generally, and, in such a state of mind, they often become an easy prey to the ignorant declaimers of sects and parties who practically, or theoretically, or both, ignore a standing ministry altogether.

Ministers, Sessions, and Presbyteries may rest assurred that the best way to insure a better support for the ministry than is now, in many places, given, is to insist upon the people of their charges and under their jurisdiction all giving giving regularly, and giving as far as possible punctually; and this being done we would get rid of those characteristics of independency which now deface and disfigure us, and would present the pleasing aspect of a Presbyterian Church as united in 'discharging Christian duty as we are in believing Christian doctrine.

In conclusion, Sir, I must beg to apologize for trespassing at such length upon your valuable space, and entertaining the earnest hope that our Synod at its next Meeting in Liverpool will put an end to the neglect and irregularity complained of,

I am, Sir, yours most respectfully,


To the Editor of the "English Presbyterian Messenger."

SIR,-You have already been furnished with the details of what took place on the laying


each, I proposed that we should print 1,000 that each card, when returned full, would cards, with twenty lines ruled on each, so contain subscriptions to the value of one pound.

To work this plan sufficiently we require one thousand collectors: and, though our congregation and Sabbath scholars will all contribute their willing energies, we shall still be far short of the required number. In this emergency I turn my eye to the numbers of young people of the various congregations of our Church, and ask them, Are you willing to help on the good work in Sheffield? If you are, will you take our cards, and get them filled up with small subscriptions?

Some of our friends may say, what special claims have you in Sheffield to enable you swer, first, it is well known that there is at to prefer such a request? To this I anpresent an ardent desire to extend the Presbyterian Church in England, and we ask you to aid us in Sheffield to help on such extension; but, secondly, I say, without fear of contradiction, that Sheffield deserves well of the Church. The congregation have themselves subscribed most liberally to the building fund, and have already made the most strenuous exertions to raise the funds amongst themselves. It is my firm conviction that there is not a member of the congregation who has not contributed to the extent of his means, and I believe I will be borne out in this statement by some of our Manchester friends who know us well.

The church we have begun to build is a handsome stone building, with a spire, and will be both an ornament to the town and

an honour to our Church.

MEMBERS OF OUR CONGREGATIONS, will you help us to build this church?

SABBATH SCHOLARS, will you kindly help us? Remember we shall be content with small subscriptions, though the larger they are the better.

I shall be glad to supply collecting cards to all willing to aid us in raising the 1,000. wanted. I am, Sir,

Yours, respectfully,


North of England Insurance Office, Sheffield, July 18, 1855.



To the Editor of the "English Presbyterian Messenger."

SIR,-The advantage of a native ministry is so great, that our deficiency in this respect has been described as the great want of the Presbyterian Church in England. This want is not likely to be soon removed. But the difficulty we experience in obtaining fit men for our home and foreign stations ought to make us look earnestly for means by which the present small number of students at our College could be increased. But all the desirable men we can obtain are too few for the work in England: how, then, can we answer the urgent call for teachers that comes to us from China? The few we do send are altogether inadequate for such a gigantic work. But the disadvantages under which a foreigner must always labour are felt especially heavy by the English missionary in China. He must be comparatively useless for a long time while acquiring the language, and meantime his health is often undermined.

If a native ministry be good in itself, for that reason alone we should endeavour to plant one in China; but we are urged to this duty by another reason, viz., our inability to give to China pastors from our own Church.

Some of our missionaries in China have met with youths who have suffered persecution for the sake of Christ. In some cases these youths have been entirely discarded by their friends, and shut out from the means of obtaining a livelihood. Cannot some of these be brought to England for a few years' training, and then sent back ordained missionaries? Our hearts would be bound to the Church in China by a new bond of sympathy if by the residence of Chinese students among us we became personally acquainted with some of them. And if, immediately before their return home, they were to visit our various congregations and address the people, perhaps some of us might be quickened into greater zeal.

I am, Sir, your obedient servant,
London, July 12, 1855.
G. B.

ADDITIONS TO THE PARAPHRASES. [WE insert the following at the request of the writer; but not because we approve of all his "sentiments,"'-some of which are not to our taste. He should communicate with the Hymn-book Committee.]

As the act of praise to God is the highest in religious worship, so the matter of praise must always be Divine and holy,

awakening the loftiest thoughts concerning God and his ways, in order to a proper Accordspiritual performance of the act. ingly, whatever is from God can only answer the purpose of praise, and the more immediately the better, of course; and, if so, all combinations of truth by man, or Divine sentiments expressed by uninspired men, must be inferior to delineations and arrangements of truth in Holy Writ; and, therefore, ought not to be employed, unless there be necessity for them from inadequateness of Scripture songs or passages to set forth the glory of God in the way of praise, which, whoever contend for, are also bound to prove, by irrefragable reasons and indisputable testimony; otherwise, they have no business to fettle up and put forth such lucubrations as they may hit upon along with the Word of God, or composi tions more directly and immediately the Word of God; as if the stream which man has puddled in were equal or superior, forsooth, for sweetness and refreshment, to the fountain which sends up its pure and living waters before the throne of Jehovah.

"As dirty hands foul all they touch, And those things most which are most pure and fine,

So our clay hearts, even when we crouch, To sing thy praises make them less Divine."

So says Herbert; and if so, how much more do we degrade God's praises when we presume to manufacture them ourselves; a work which angels in heaven would never think of, as may be gathered from the opening line of the 65th Psalm, which is literally,-"Praise is silent to Thee, O God, in Zion." Standing before the throne, with harp in hand, the brightest of the scraph train, contemplating God, can find no word worthy of utterance in his praise. Not so the "Ranters" in England; but then, "fools rush in where angels fear to tread." With sentiments like these, and opposed to the use of any collection of hymns in public worship, not extracts of Scripture, as more than uncalled for, and solicitous to stop the mouths of certain hymn-mongers, dealers in counterfeit or no, in the English Presbyterian Synod, by furnishing their table with something better than they can find for themselves, the writer has just attempted in verse passages of the New Testament, to the number of thirty-three, as additions to the Paraphrases already in use, with the view of making out 100 Scripture passages in verse for public worship, and begs the insertion of the following in the "Messenger" as a sample, at random, of the style in which they are rather scrolled out than composed, he not having had time to revise and correct them

[blocks in formation]

A LETTER has been received from Mr. Johnston, dated May 1, and probably the last he will write from Amoy prior to his return to this country. Just before writing this letter he received intelligence that Mr. Burns and Mr. Douglas were to return by the Cape, and would, therefore, not be able to reach him quite so early as he expected; and he expresses himself thankful that they had not been induced by a knowledge of his illness to "hasten by forced marches to his relief." This he endeavoured to prevent by refraining from speaking of the necessity for immediate relief until he knew that his letters would not arrive before the time fixed for their departure. He says,

"From my last you would learn that it was my intention to remain here until the arrival of my colleagues, whom I expected in May or June. And even on learning the necessary delay caused by this change of route, I could not think of leaving before I saw them in the field, which is likely to be in July, especially when I had already waited so long. But I had scarcely made up my mind to do so, when I was threatened with some of my old symptoms, which made it plain that I could not remain, with the prospect of having the worst season of the year to go up the Red Sea and cross the desert, without running a great risk of inflicting a permamanent injury on my system, endangering my hope of recovery by a temporary return to England, and my future usefulness, at least in this country-an evil

which, if brought on by any error on my part, would be more painful than any prospect of speedy dissolution, in the plain path of duty.

"Dr. Herschberrg at first wished me to set out at once by this mail (May), but as the more painful symptoms subsided, he gave me a respite, and consented to my remaining till June, beyond which date he will not give his consent to further delay.

"My missionary brethren in the kindest manner possible offered to take all my work off my hands, but when I take into account the number and the arduous nature of their engagements, I am truly thankful that I can save them from further labour by staying a month longer; so that there will only be a few weeks between my departure and the arrival of more efficient labourers. Your brief allusion to the likelihood of two more men being sent out soon seems to be too good news to be true. It comes upon me so unexpectedly, and yet so much as a matter of course on your part, that I cannot tell what to make of it. Although in accordance with my desires as addressed to the Church and to God, so little faith had I, that at first I wondered and doubted. Now, however, that I see you have taken the matter in hand, I can trust both God and the Church, and I earnestly pray that two men of God may be raised up and commissioned with mature deliberation, but without needless delay.

« FöregåendeFortsätt »