Abbildungen der Seite
PDF
EPUB

open, or calls for labourers, as during the last year. Every assault which succeeds must be followed up. For instance : at the Choctaw station something like one hundred and twenty-five have been added to the Church during the last year, and this chiefly through the labours of one brother, who was occupied with a school. Now, should not a man be sent out to take the pastoral charge of this flock ? Again : among the Seminoles about twenty-five or thirty were brought in. Hitherto that has been one of the most hopeless of the Indian tribes. Should we not take advantage of these favourable indications to strengthen the hands of those who are there?

From the Pagan world beyond the seas almost every mail brings hopeful news.

In Northern India, until within a few years, the doors were locked and barred against the Gospel. But what a mighty change has occurred! Those mighty despotisms which opposed the Gospel have been smitten to the dust, and the old pagan superstitions are shaking and tottering. Western Africa, twenty-five years since, was the most hopeless of all portions of the earth. There were not at that time more than 20 missionaries-now there are 150; there were but three churches, and these bad barely an existence; now there are 150, and the converts are more numerous than those of both branches of the Presbyterian Church in this great city of New York. Is it nothing that these great changes are occurring? Is not the Church called on for efforts proportioned to such an era ?

There has been no previous period when our Board has gone more extensively into its work than during last year. Nearly sixty labourers have gone out this year, being nearly double as many as were ever sent before, and more probably than by any other missionary institution in the world in the same time.

Missionaries are also to be sent to various new stations. This extraordinary extension of the missionary work demands, of course, a large increase of means. But no step has been taken in this work except in obedience to a plain call of Providence. The calls could not be resisted. The Indian tribes in Kansas and Nebraska were instances in case. Missions among them were urgently demanded; and just when the Board were striving to find the means required, our Government voluntarily offered a considerable sum for the support of schools, which at once removed the difficulty. Mr. Wilson mentioned remarkable providential openings and calls from South America, New Grenada, and the Affghans. The Affgbans, with a population of 5,000,000, have not yet learned the first rudiments of the Gospel. A young man had offered himself for this work; and just when he was on his way, an Englishman and another offered the Board $7500 for this very object. This munificent sum will found the mission and support it for two years.

In view of the extent and wants of the field, the Board are sometimes almost overwbelmed with the responsibility which rests upon them. O, that the Church would come up to her full responsibility in this glorious work! A larger liberality is demanded.

Rev. M. S. Culbertson said that he had laboured eleven years in China. He would speak of two points which demand the attention of the missionary as soon as he enters his field-the language of the people to whom he is sent, and their religion. The language of the Chinese is admitted to be extremely difficult of acquisition, but the language as spoken is now acquired by missionaries in the North with such facility that they generally begin to preach in a single year after their arrival. A distinction, however, must be made between the written and the spoken languages. They are, in fact, two distinct languages, and while the written language requires the labour of many years to master it, it is comparatively easy to attain to such freedom in the use of the spoken language as to preach in it intelligibly. The written language, however, has this advantage, that while its characters are pronounced differently by the natives of the different provinces, they are understood in the same sense in all parts of the empire. We may, therefore, send our books and tracts to the remotest corner of the land, with the full assurance that they will be understood. The obstacles thrown in our way by the language are connected rather with the difficulty of its acquisition by the Chinese themselves than by foreigners. The time which must be devoted to study by the Chinese youth, in order to read and write with fucility, is so long that the acquisition is, and must ever be, beyond the reach of the mass of the people. It is desirable, therefore, that this spoken language be written by means of an appropriate alphabet, so that the language which the children shall be taught to read may be the same with that which they have already learned to speak. As to the religion of the Chinese, it is a humanitarian system.

It is a deification of human nature. The Chinese worships human nature in the persons of his parents, and of his ancestors. The nation is sometimes called a nation of atheists. Their atheism, however, is rather of that practical kind of which we find so much among ourselves, than a theoretical denial of the deity. Were we to judge of their devotion by the number of their temples, we might think them a most religious nation. They all desire to live under the shadow of a temple, and these buildings may be seen not only in the streets of the great city, but through the country they meet the eye in every direction. The existence of the gods and the necessity of worshipping them is recognized by the State. The Emperor offers sacrifices at stated periods, and the officers of government throughout the country repair to their appropriate temples for worship twice in each month.

The popular religion, however, consists in the main of a mass of absurd superstitions, which show more than anything else the deplorable ignorance of the people. In them we may see to what a fearful extent they are led captive by Satan at his will. A number of incidents which had fallen under his own observation were here related by the speaker in illustration of this point. Allusion was then made to the influence of their religious system upon their morality, and it was shown that the Datural tendency of such notions was fully developed in China, giving rise to the most revolting cruelty, licentiousness, and deceitfulness.

In conclusion, the present state of China was briefly alluded to. The result of the revolution now in progress cannot be foreseen. It is by no means certain that the cause of missions would be promoted by its success. We cannot but rejoice, however, that these revolutionists, whatever may be the motives by which they are influenced, proclaim to the whole empire the great cardinal truths that there is' but one God, and that Jesus Christ, his son, is the only Saviour: that they denounce idolatry in all its forms: and that they print the Bible, without note or comment, as they find it translated by a Protestant missionary. However serious

a

a

their errors may be, it is surely a cause for thanksgiving that they hold and teach so much truth.

There is great encouragement then to go on with increased energy in this glorious work. Already more than six bundred Chinese have been received into the communion of the Christian Church by the missionaries of the various denominations labouring there. It is a glorious cause in which we are engaged. Let us pray for it—let us labour for it; and if need be let us die for it.

Dr. Happer, also of the China Mission, addressed the Assembly. He wished be could succeed in imparting a just view of this work to the Assembly. He was persuaded that our ministers and churches had no proper conception of the greatness and glory of the enterprise to wbich they were invited. Up to 1843 China was closed to the preaching of the Gospel. During twenty-seven years that Dr. Morrison laboured there, he was compelled to gather the members of the Mission, and a few others, into a little room, and lock the door, that he might preach the Gospel. He then did it in violation of the laws of the empire, which made it death for any subject to profess the Christian religion. In 1840, Great Britain commenced her opium war, at the close of which the way was opened for the entrance of the missionary. Dr. Happer then gave extended statements, showing the ripeness of the field, the various encouragements, the entire inadequacy of the force our Church has sent there for the work to be done. Are twelve missionaries all this great Church should send to this encouraging field ? Not a single new man has been sent there during the past year. When he saw this, and saw the numbers who had left our Thcological Seminaries, his heart sunk within him. Notwithstanding all the appeals, this is the sad result. He had often been asked why in these Chinese cities, teeming with population, the congregations of the missionaries were so small. He would ask in reply, How many people would attend the ministry of South Sea islanders in inculcating their religion in a little room on a week day in the city of New York? Well, as the New Yorkers would look on the South Sea islanders, so do the Chinese look upon our missionaries. Great are the discouragements to be contended with ; but the missionaries do not despond. From the heathen they expect hostility. But since his return to this land, deep discouragement had come over bis spirit on seeing the apathy and indifference of Christians here in regard to the claims of the heathen. Dr. Happer closed with a most earnest appeal for increased interest and efforts in occupying the wide and mighty field opened in China.

The Report of the Committee on the Board of Foreign Missions was then adopted.

On motion of Rev. Mr. Williams, the Rev. Dr. Thornwell was thanked for his able and eloquent sermon on Foreign Missions, preached last evening, and he was requested to furnish a copy to the Board of Foreign Missions.

BOARD OF EDUCATION. The order of the day having arrived, the Assembly then proceeded to hear the Report of the Committee on the Report of the Board of Education.

Rev. Dr. Dickinson, Chairman of the Committee, presented the following resolutions : VOL. VI. NO. 8.

23

a

1. Resolved, That in the review of the observations and results of the Board of Education during the past year, the Assembly has reason for gratitude to the Great Head of the Church. Notwithstanding the embarrassments which at the commencement of the year seemed to threaten the treasury of the Board, and which occasioned no little anxiety, the exigency was met, and by some of the churches with redoubled liberality, so that the receipts of the Board over the preceding year have amounted to $4913. Though the appropriations to candidates, in compliance with the recommendation of a previous Assembly, were increased one-fifth, the Board has not failed to meet, with all their wonted promptness, these increased demands on their treasury. And it is a fact not to be overlooked, demanding as it does grateful record, that during the last twenty-five years the Board has never failed to fulfil the Church's engagements with her own candi. dates, thus encouraging the hope, if not affording assurance, that the Church will never allow the candidates for her ministry to suffer through any disregard or neglect of her own engagements.

2. Resolved, That, though the number of new candidates does not quite equal that of the preceding year, there is abundant cause for thanksgiving that no less than 102 have been taken under the care of the Board during the past year, thus making the aggregate for this year 382, which is 18 more than the aggregate in 1855, and 40 more than that of 1854.

3. Resolved, That in view of the origin and design of the Christian ministry, the greatness of the field which it is called to occupy, the weighty interests which it involves, its relations to the spread of revealed truth, to the extension of the Church, and the salvation of dying sinners, it is solemnly incumbent upon the Presbyteries in every scriptural way, to seek the increase, as well as guard the purity and promote the efficiency of the ministry.

4. Resolved, That in view of those untoward influences to which even the children of the Church are exposed, and which tend to depreciate the ministry as a profession in the estimation of the rising generation ; in view also of the dangers to which the youthful mind is so imminently exposed from the insidiousness of error, the blandishments of a secularized religion, and the devices of a Paganized Christianity, this Assembly enjoins it upon the pastors of our churches to devote especial attention to the religious culture of the youth of their respective charges, and urgently advises Christian parents to throw around their children the shield of biblical and catechetical instruction, that by the early inculcation of right views of truth and duty, they may be not only preserved from error and evil, but ultimately inclined, under God's blessing, to devote themselves to his service in the work of the Gospel ministry.

5. Resolved, That while the Assembly continues to approve of the course of the Board in establishing schools, academies, and colleges on a definite religious basis, a sound discretion is necessary as to their number and location; and, lest the operations of the Board in this relation should be exposed to invidious misconstruction, it should be distinctly understood that the Church does not undervalue the importance of any institution of learning which, though not subjected to ecclesiastical supervision, recognizes the authority, and inculcates the principles of God's written word; much less disparage the common school system, as adapted to useful ends, so long as the Bible is not excluded.

6. Resolved, That, though Christians should pray habitually to the “Lord of the harvest,” yet, in thankful remembrance of the signal marks of Divine favour with which the observance of a special season of prayer has heretofore been attended, this Assembly recommends the last Thursday of February, 1857, to be observed by the Church as as a day of prayer for the blessing of God on the work of the ministry, especially in its relation to the baptized children of the Church ; and for the outpouring of the Spirit on the youth of our land, particularly those under instruction in our various institutions of learning.

It was moved that the Report of the Committee be adopted. Dr. Van Rensselaer, Secretary of the Board, being called for, said The number of new candidates received this year is 102. The total number on the roll is 382, being 18 more than the preceding year. 1. This whole subject is eminently connected with God's sovereignty. 2. Our operations call for gratitude to God. 3. The statistics indicate the

a

inadequate impression of the Church in regard to her responsibilities and duties.

The Board next present a plea for educational operations on the basis of Scripture, and maintain the following propositions: 1. The perpetuation of the ministry is made by the word of God an object of special concern to the Church. 2. The Church is required to use means for the attainment of the great end in view. 3. The Scriptures authorize the belief that many of the Church's ministers will always be from among the poor. 4. The ministry should be an educated as well as a pious ministry, called of God to their work. 5. It is a scriptural principle, that pecuniary aid should be granted to those candidates whose condition requires it.

Agencies. The whole work of the Board has been performed by the Secretaries, with the single exception of a few weeks' voluntary service, and at a less cost than for any year during the last eleven.

State of the Treasury.—The total receipts for the ministerial fund were $40,679 78, being an increase of about $5000. Of this fund, one-fifth, or $8000, has been contributed by two churches in New York. The amount raised for this fund is the largest that has been raised since the division of the Assembly. The sum received into the fund for schools and colleges is $6833 17, being somewhat less than last year. The aggregate receipts for all the funds were $18,169 78, and the expenditures $18,071 47, leaving a balance, including that of last year, of $2032 96.

Primary or Parochial Schools.—The number of these schools is about 100, of which 34 have received aid from the Board, and 7 more have lately applied. One of the elders of a church in New York City has continued his offer of $5000 per annum to the object.

Presbyterial Academies.—The number of Presbyterial Academies is 58. These are located in every section of the North, South, East, and West. They contain, on an average, 70 or 80 students each, and are doing a great work in the cause of thorough Christian education.

Colleges.—The colleges directly under the care of the Church are 18, which, with four others indirectly under our immediate control, make a total of 22 institutions. The number of students, regular and irregular, connected with these institutions, is 2100; of these, about 500 are communicants of the Church, and 350 are candidates for the ministry. During the year, upwards of 100 students bave been hopefully converted to God. Revivals of religion have occurred at Princeton College, Washington College, Pennsylvania, and Oglethorpe University, Georgia.

The Board offer the following remarks on the collegiate policy of the Church :

1. It ought to be the universal aim to incorporate thorough religious instruction into the course of studies. 2. The Church ought to cultivate the harmony now happily prevalent among our institutions. 3. Our colleges ought to increase in number from time to time; but not too fast, or too near each other. 4. Ample endowments ought to be provided for all our colleges, and chiefly from the districts of country where they are located. 5. A large number of young men ought to be encouraged to seek the advantages of a liberal education. It may be added that, whilst our colleges are struggling to secure an endowment, especially during their infancy, it is good policy to assist them with a portion of the funds which the liberality of the churches may supply for the general object.

« ZurückWeiter »