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to which appropriations have been made; and the names and localities of the churches from which appropriations have been withdrawn, when the conditions on which such appropriations were made have not been complied with.
Rev. Dr. Rice wished to say a few words on the importance of this subject. It is exceedingly difficult for a young man in the West to gather a congregation in an uncomfortable school or court-house. People will not go where they are uncomfortable. Besides, all persons have access to a court-house, and thus error and truth are preached alternately. It is vain to expect that many people will go Sabbath after Sabbath to the school-houses for worship. . A few, indeed, will go; but they are the few who are hungry, and who will go anywhere. And then, too, in these circumstances, they can raise no Sabbath-school. In this way, after congregations are formed, they will go on for years, and with little progress. At the end of ten years the Board of Missions will probably have to give as much as it did at first to sustain such a church, whereas, with a good building, they would have been a contributing, self-sustaining church for seven years out of the ten. Men will give more liberally too, to sustain a minister in a church, than in a court-house, where worldly men are never induced to go. Another consideration is the serving of our families. In many places churches have not been organized because the Presbyterians were too few. In after years the children grow up and go to other denominations, and the parents follow them; and that in families who bare for years prayed and longed and waited for a Presbyterian church. We have lost thousands of Presbyterians in the West in this way. Young men and young families—Presbyterians, but not communicapts-go West. They prefer their own denomination; but when they have only the court-house, and another denomination has a good church, their Presbyterianism is not strong enough to keep them away from the Methodists or Baptists, or others. It is economy, therefore, to help them to build. It is economy as to ministers also. Out West men of all shades of sentiment meet together. Some are from the best families of the old States. They are intelligent. They debate everything, for everything is debated there. Errors of all sorts are there. The devil is sure to have bis missionaries on the ground early. The people are intelligent, and ready to debate; and if a man will only explain things and discuss a subject satisfactorily, they will listen two hours without weariness. Tame or read sermons will not do. A man must preach vigorously, and he will be heard. He must be ready to preach on any of the great doctrines on short notice. They think a man who has passed through the Seminary has his head full of sermons. Now, the ministers must be students, and to study they must have time. And how can they have time, when a man's mind is all the while perplexed about a house of worship, and the support of his family besides? It cannot be done. Often, in such a case, the man turns teacher; and then he preaches less and less acceptably, until finally the people leave him, and he resigns. From that moment the church declines, and often dies out. Then the minister himself is a
a teacher; but soon he goes lower still. He ploughs more and teaches less, until he is wholly secularized. This process is going on all through the West. Now, give the minister a place of worship, and if he is a man he can gather a congregation. This is the true way; and it is absolutely Decessary to the progress of the Gospel in the West.
The Rev. Mr. Williams, of California, came from a distant field, and
wished to say a word of that field in connection with this subject. He expressed the thanks of California for the early efforts in their behalf by friends in New York for church extension. They had now, from the feeble promise of that day, two strong churches in San Francisco, and others in Other places. As a people, they have, by a single leap, crossed the mountains, and become a strong, enterprising State. The wonder might be that there should be, in so new a state of things, founded under such circumstances, any law, or morality, or religion prevailing at all. Yet so it is. We enjoy there all the comforts of civilized life. The Gospel is honoured, and they that go out there to preach the Gospel will be sustain. ed. California stands first among the gold producing fields. Russia and Australia are both behind it in the amount of gold produced. The barvests of wheat are such, that they are no longer recipients, but exporters, although it has been only a few years since a few grains of wheat were brought there and sown. He closed by urging the importance of the Church Extension scheme to secure the full fruits of that promising field to the cause of Christ.
The report of the Committee was then adopted.
THE AMERICAN BIBLE SOCIETY. The Moderator presented a communication from the Managers of the American Bible Society, requesting them to attend a public meeting in the Church of the Puritans, on Thursday evening next-the object to make an effort towards supplying all our destitute families with the Bible. The invitation was accepted.
After recess, Rev. Dr. Prime offered the following in reference to the Bible cause :
Whereas, The American Bible Society, at its late Anniversary, resolved upon a general re-supply of the United States and Territories with a copy of God's word in every destitute household; and, whereas, the members of this Assembly have enjoyed an opportunity of visiting the Society's House, and observing its admirable arrangements and unprecedented facilities for the publication of the Sacred Scriptures; therefore,
Resolved, That this Assembly rejoices in the prosperity with which the great Head of the Church has blessed this important institution for the diffusion of truth, and particularly in view of the great work which it now proposes to undertake in supplying the wants of millions in our country who are still destitute of the Bible.
Resolved, That the Assembly earnestly recommends to the ministers and churches under its care, to co-operate efficiently with the American Bible Society, and with its auxiliaries in their respective counties, towns, or villages, in prosecuting the great work proposed; and that, by regular annual collections, according to the ability that God giveth, they aid the Society in its efforts to give the word of God to the whole world.
THE FUND FOR INDIGENT MINISTERS AND THEIR
FAMILIES. Rev. Dr. Rogers made a report from the Trustees for the relief of indigent and disabled ministers, and the families of such. The report stated that they had given aid to 20 persons, of whom 11 were widows, 8 were clergymen, 1 an orphan daughter. The reasons which justified the
, bestowal of this relief were various. Some of the beneficiaries were unable to labour by reason of advanced age, and others by chronic disease. The whole amount of funds at the disposal of the Trustees during the year was $1580, which sum, divided among 20 persons, would give an average of $79 to each. The moneys, however, have been divided in different proportions: the largest amount paid to any one person was $200, and the smallest $35. The trustees expressed deep regret that in the distribution of funds they were restricted to so small an amount. The sums appropriated have been necessarily small, from the smallness of the funds placed at their disposal. Had the amount at their disposal been larger, they would gladly have awarded, in many cases, sums twice, or even three times as large as those which were actually paid.
The resolutions of the Assembly on the subject had met but little attention. Two of the wealthiest synods had drawn more than they had paid in during the year. The appeals of the orphans and widows to the Committee had been very touching.
Dr. Rogers, in additional remarks, pressed the whole subject with great earnestness upon the attention of the Asseunbly for some further action.
The report, on motion, was accepted.
Rev. Dr. Rice moved to refer it to a special committee of three, to consider and report on the subject.
Rev. Mr. Cater moved, as an amendment to Dr. Rice's motion, that a committee of five be appointed to consider the whole subject of aiding the disablėd ministry of the Church, and the widows and orphans who are entitled to receive the benefit of the fund set apart for that purpose ; and also to open a correspondence with the Corporation in Pbiladelphia, to ascertain if that body cannot so modify its plan of operations as to become the medium of distributing a General Fund for general application; and that the Committee be requested to report to this Assembly, if possible, and, if not possible, then to report at the meeting of 1857, and said :The following statements we think embody the material facts in the history of “the Corporation for the relief of poor and distressed Presbyterian Ministers, and of the poor and distressed widows and children of Presbyterian ministers," viz. :
The Presbyterian Church did early feel and acknowledge her solemn and religious obligation to make a wise and suitable provision for the comfortable support of the distressed families of her deceased ministers. One century and a quarter ago her attention was attracted to the subject, and, in imitation of the laudable example of the Church of Scotland, she commenced a fund for the pious purpose, which is clearly indicated by the overture in the minutes of the Synod of Philadelphia for Sept. 21, 1719. See Records of Presbyterian Church, p. 58. A considerable portion of the original funds came from the Synod of Glasgow. Records of Presbyterian Church, p. 58.
A society for the more successful accomplishment of this laudable object was formed in 1755, under the auspices of the Synod, by sixteen of the ministers of the said Synod. That original plan in all of its provisions holds a first place in all correct inquiries into the nature of this charitable foundation-particularly the preamble of the constitution of said society, in these words : In order to increase a certain fund now in our hands, and have the same duly applied to support our widows and children after our decease, we subscribing members of the Synod of Philadelphia do promise and agree to and with each other in manner following,” &c. Also,
Article II. “Every minister hereafter becoming a member of the Synod of Philadelphia shall have a right to come into this agreement,” &c., which is an absolute limitation of the “cestui que trust” in a most important direction.
Again, by Art. 7, trustees to hold these funds in trust are appointed by the Society; “ And when there is occasion to appoint new trustees by the death or relinquishment of any of those mentioned, or otherwise, when the company think it necessary to change any appointed, which they shall always have power to do when they find cause. In such cases, new trustees shall be nominated and appointed by the common vote of the company." P. 217.
Upon the adoption of the foregoing plan the Synod gave the Company £115, reserving the balance to be disposed of by the immediate action of the Synod.
Two years afterwards we find that the Synod orders a petition to be addressed to the proprietors of Pennsylvania for a charter for this same Widow's Fund, the title of which is; “ The Petition of the Presbyterian Synod of Philadelphia.” After narrating the causes of their association they say: "To remedy these evils as far as we can in our circumstances, &c., have agreed to raise a small fund for the benefit of ministers, widows, and helpless children belonging to this Synod,” &c. Pp. 224, 225.
And as an inducement for the grant of the charter, it is stated that the effect of it would be in all probability to confine the Synodical meetings to the City of Philadelphia, or the province of Pennsylvania. The petition is signed by order of the Synod of Philadelphia. We have noted also the following entry on the minutes of that date : “Ordered, that the money already paid continue in the hands of our treasurer and clerk, as formerly, until some answer to this, our petition, be received.” P. 225.
The Charter was granted, and was reported to and accepted by the Synod of New York and Philadelphia in 1759, and a committee was appointed to prepare a plan for the regulation and management of said fund, and proper persons were to be appointed to take in subscriptions. The fund then in hand of the Synod, in addition to a former contribution to this Society (p. 296) was £561, which was ordered to be transferred to the treasurer of the corporation for said Fund. P. 302.
The report of the committee appointed to prepare a plan, &c., was placed in the book of the corporation, and copies were to be sent to the Presbyteries. We have been unable to obtain a copy of the original charter, and of the plan proposed by the committee, but those papers cannot materially affect the conclusions which we think are established by the preceding narration.
Before giving those conclusions, we would state that our General Assembly is the true succession of that Synod of New York and Philadel. pbia, wbich met in the City of Philadelphia in 1759, and then and there accepted the charter from the proprietary government of Pennsylvania, and appointed a committee to draft a plan for the regulation of said Fund, and which passed their Widows' Fund into the treasury of said corporation.
The conclusions to which we are led by our premises are these, viz.:
I. The corporators of this corporation are only trustees in the most rigid sense, and are bound to the execution of the trust, and no discretion given them can be construed as to be a defeat of the trust.
II. This General Assembly is the proper body to appoint the trustees, as the charter was granted upon petition of that Synod from which we hold, and for the protection of their funds collected for the pious purposes set forth in their petition.
III. The ministers in regular connection with the said General Assembly are the only ministers, and their widows and helpless children are the only widows and orphans who can in equity hold as “cestui que trusts."
IV. Neither the corporation nor the State has any power to nominate and appoint cestui que trusts outside of that denomination of Christians.
V. If in their exercise of any discretionary power lodged in their hands, they have imposed any such new conditions as do operate to exclude those who have in equity a right to become the cestui que trusts, they have so far, however, unintentionally defeated the trust.
VI. It is the right and duty of this General Assembly to institute inquiries into this matter.
The foregoing propositions are sustained by the very style and title of the corporation itself. The corporation for the relief of poor and distressed Presbyterian ministers, and of the poor and distressed widows and children of Presbyterian ministers; and the corporation admits, in an address issued in 1852, that the objects of its establishment were “the benevolent objects expressed in its TITLE;” and on page 6th they further say, “ It may be observed, then, that as to the parties for whom the benefits are designed, these are Presbyterian ministers: with whom, by the new conditions, may be included ministers of the German Reformed, Dutch Reformed, Associate Reformed, Associate Reformed Presbyterian, or Cumberland Presbyterian denominations." The object of this extension is to enhance the benefits of the corporation by spreading its sphere of action. The parties designed were the ministers of our denomination, but the Trustees make new conditions, and introduce seven other denominations. We think they have transcended their powers even while we discover that a larger benevolence induced them thus to attempt an enlargement of the bounds of the charity.
Again, the conditions imposed being now, and for many years past, essentially new conditions, have virtually defeated the benevolent objects of the corporation ; for of the thousands, says the address, of ministers in the Presbyterians churches, but fifty-five are now on the lists of subscribers for the benefits offered by the corporation. This has been a silent but impressive testimony of the overwhelming majority of our ministers, that something about the plan of operations of this corporation is an insuperable barrier to their forming any such connection with it as would place them in the relation of beneficiaries to its charity. In an address issued in 1841 to the ministers and congregations of the Presbyterian Church, the corporation says, “notwithstanding, however, the great advantages which are thus presented to the ministers of thé. Presbyterian Church, and the facility with which they may be secured, the efforts of the corporation to extend its usefulness have heretofore been attended with very partial success." And the intimation is made in 1852, that that want of success has arisen, in many instances, “from a blamable improvidence on the part of those most interested.' That result, we believe, on the contrary necessarily follows from the defects in the nature of the corporation, and the conditions imposed to obtain the annuity.