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In closing this Report, the committee present the following summary of the results to which they have come.
1. In addition to the work to which our Home Missionary Societies have, for the most part, confined their labors, - that of planting and fostering churches where materials are found ready to their hand for forming them, there is an imperative necessity that able and devoted men should be sent to labor for Christ where no churches exist and no materials are ready for their formation. At whatever cost of men and money, the great centers of influence should at once be occupied by men divinely endowed for such a work; and their support should be drawn from missionary funds, till their congregations are able to sustain them.
2. That the time for efficient action is emphatically the present. In the West and North-west, our emigration is spreading itself over a field vaster than ever before; and immediate and most efficient action is necessary to overtake and keep pace with this ever-swelling tide of population, in founding the institutions of Christianity, learning, and freedom. In all the late domain of slavery, society is dissolved, ecclesiastical organizations are broken up or paralyzed. By their sanction of human chattelism, and their complicity with the rebellion, the churches have become utterly demoralized, and are like salt that has lost its savor. Church edifices and schoolhouses are abandoned, and in wide districts the institutions of education and religion have no practical existence. In all these regions, now or never is the time to arise, and build the temple of the Lord. If we neglect to occupy this inviting field of labor to which God now calls us, he may, we trust he will, raise up others who will cultivate and possess it for him. But for us it will be an opportunity forever lost, a harvest season never to return.
3. We cannot perform our part in this work without a vast increase in earnestness, zeal, and self-denial in our churches. Without this, it will be impossible to command either the men or the money for the work. The resources and the strong young men of any community will always be where its heart is. If the heart of the Church is in the world, her sons and her wealth will be there also; and she will be as powerless in promoting the cause of Christ, at home or abroad, as Samson was to meet the Philistines when his locks were shorn.
Three questions the committee must leave unanswered, pressing, we trust, on the hearts of the National Council.
1. How can the requisite spirit of earnestness and self-consecration be imparted to the churches ?
2. How can our young men be induced, by thousands, to consecrate their lives to this holy cause?
3. How can we raise the requisite pecuniary resources for a religious enterprise so vast, and so imperatively demanding immediate action?
The American Church is in much the same relation to this great crisis that our Government was to the rebellion at its outbreak. From whence will the Lord send deliverance?
This report was accepted, and referred to a special committee. Council adjourned with the Doxology.
Fourth Day; Saturday, June 17, 9 A. M.
The Council was opened with prayer by the first Assistant Moderator, Hon. C. G. Hammond of Illinois.
The minutes of yesterday's sessions were read and approved.
The Committee on Business reported the following resolutions; viz.,
Resolved, That, for the correction and certification of the list of delegates to this Council, the roll shall be called by the scribe after the reading of the minutes on Monday morning, and members who do not answer to their names, or whose presence during the session is not attested by delegates, shall be stricken from the list.
Resolved, That, in making up the roll of members of this Council, the Committee on Credentials be requested and instructed to record the churches which they severally represent, and the residence of the delegates, both ministers and laymen; and that the Committee on Credentials be directed, when recording the names of members, to insert their Christian name in full.
The first resolution was amended so as to require the roll to be called at 12 o'clock at noon to-day, and that all not answering, or answered for, to-day, have an opportunity to answer the roll-call on Monday at 12 M., before being stricken from the list, and was so adopted.
The second resolution was laid upon the table.
Voted, That a committee be appointed from each State and Territory here represented to report in full the names of the pastors and delegates of such States and Territories present in the Council, and also the names of the associated churches from which they come.
The Business Committee reported the following resolution, which was adopted; viz, The Committee on "the work of Evangelization in the West and South, and in Foreign Lands," having omitted, through inadvertance, to report on the lastnamed topic,
Resolved, That a committee be appointed to report on the work of Evangelization in Foreign Lands.
The duty of facilitating the supply of pulpits in this city and vicinity by the services of members of this Council, to-morrow, was assigned to the Committee on Devotional Exercises.
The Committee on Credentials reported the following order; viz.,
That when a delegate has appeared and taken his seat in this Council, but vacates it before the close of its sessions, his alternate may occupy his place. This order was laid on the table.
The Chairman of the Committee of Arrangements notified the Council that Thursday next had been definitely fixed upon as the day on which the Council is invited to visit Plymouth Rock; and that the price of tickets to friends of the Council desiring to accompany them had been fixed at $2.00, including a ticket to the collation.
The Committee on the subject of Ministerial Support reported by their chairman, Prof. Shepard, of Maine, as follows:
The Committee appointed to present to the Council the topic of Ministerial Support hereby report.
We find the most concise and comprehensive axiom on this subject, uttered by
the Lord in connection with the sending-forth of the seventy disciples, - "The laborer is worthy of his hire." The laborer here pronounced upon is the servant of Christ, the minister and messenger of his gospel, the bearer of spiritual blessings to the lost race of
We have here a class of men set apart to a service deemed of vital importance to the welfare of the world; a class extending down the centuries; their permanence affirming their indispensableness. They are appointed and commissioned of God; consecrated to a single and peculiar service. That they may the most largely compass the benefits of this, they are set apart from the ordinary and gainful pursuits of life; all their capabilities held to and absorbed in a ministry of beneficence, not to get good, but confer good.
We find the order and the principle in the opening of the Mosaic dispensation. First, The separation and consecration of the sons of Levi: “Behold, I have taken your brethren, the Levites, from among the children of Israel; to you they are given as a gift from the Lord." Secondly, The obligation on the part of the people to them. "Wherefore forsake not the Levite as long as thou livest upon the earth." Under the old and the new dispensation, the principle of service and support is the same, -a principle of support meant to conduce to the highest measure of service, and service the most effective in quality.
The principle of support to those who preach the gospel, the obligation to support those who consent to be separated to this service, we find put by the Apostle Paul in a peculiarly terse and satisfactory way, as is the manner of that apostle to put things in a sort of closing-up fashion, as though the brief word he used held within itself the finality of all argument. He says, linking his conclusion with the arrangement divinely made ages before, "Even so hath the Lord ordained, that they which preach the gospel should live of the gospel." So far as authority can settle this principle, the arranging and commanding of the Supreme Lord settle the principle, that preachers derive their living from the people whom they serve.
There are good reasons, statements which come to the people with the authority of reason, why what the Saviour so explicitly enjoins should be done; viz., the laborer in this field have his hire; that the preacher of this gospel be furnished a living in it.
The first is, he is a laborer; what he does is labor. An apostle pronounces it a good work. Every undertaker of it, who with a soul of zeal aims at any tolerable fidelity in it, is satisfied of one thing, that it is work; work various, multiform, ever-crowding, never finished; reaching to the inmost sensibilities of life; drawing off its most ethereal quality, its finest capital. No man could bear the strain and intensity of this toil, only as he felt and was allowed to say, It is a good work.
2. It is a work which, to get ready to do, fit, qualified to do, takes years of laborious preparation, and expenditure in the preliminary, exceeded in no other human function, equalled by very few. It is a work which cannot be worthily done unless done by a class prepared by the discipline of study and grace; to them committed; themselves consecrated to it, and made responsible for it; their life's work, and all the work of life they are allowed to do.
3. It is a work most vital in its bearing upon all human interests. Society could hardly subsist without it. It has an essentially modifying influence upon all branches of industry; makes even the fields more prolific, the houses more tasteful and comfortable. It elevates and makes purer the whole course of morals; holds in check the wasteful propensities; inclines toward harmony the conflicting passions; advances the character n all worthy attributes; greatly quickens and strengthens the intellect; lifts the heart to the divine and heavenly; nullifies, or turns into positive benefit, the most formidable powers of evil.
It is admitted, because demonstrated, that the work of the minister adds largely to a people's worldly prosperity, to their literal enrichment; brings a gain in character, in happiness, in possession, in items of benefit innumerable, beyond the count of gold.
This is admitted, confessed to, by Christian people, that the support of these workers is a just due, enjoined by the Lord, earned by hard, exhausting, and invaluable service; yet their hire is kept back in part; as a general thing, they are not at all adequately paid; the average of pay is decidedly below a proper standard of compensation. This I may safely assume; no Christian mind will question it. There is no time to array facts in confirmation of this. They abound; are everywhere: they are humiliating; are positively disgraceful to our Christianity.
In some instances, this inadequate support arises from the inability of the people to do more. These discharge themselves from blame by doing what they can; all that they can. In other instances, and these probably the more common, the inadequate compensation for service grows out of a prevalent low estimate of the value of the service. It is service in the department of religion, which, as many conceive, if not wholly without cost, is proximately so. And men of this way of judging justify themselves in crowding all estimates in the direction of a cipher. The very economical argument is The Master opened by giving himself. And then his salvation is put without price. And the men sent to dispense it are supposed to be above all self-seeking; bound to be mortified in all their desires; the whole living they aspire to is simply a partial deliverance from starvation. There is here furnished to the people a promising field for cheapening; and the minister's work is sometimes cheapened with a vengeance. If it were some other branch of service; stood in some likely or prolific connection with increase; had to do with hoarding money, rather than garnering souls; the standard of compensation and expenditure would be set higher at once; a larger price proffered and paid, because greater value is assigned to the service.
All the causes of depressed pay we cannot run over or even hint. This low appreciation of the things of God may be clearly set down as prominent among them. That there is ever downright fraud, the hire of these laborers kept back of fraud, we like not to think; we recoil from making so grave a charge: yet the eye that sees through all may see even this. We choose the rather to assume that the people do not consider; and that they will do better when they perceive the obligation in its true light, will be disposed to do what is equable and just, when they see what that is.
And what is it? What is the just measure of a minister's compensation or support? This is a quantity we can state in no fixed formula of figures. It is a variable quantity; changes with times, circumstances, places. It is not pay for his work, as men in other callings are paid. It is not of course the highest pay his measure of talent is capable of commanding, — not the most liberal pay he may win by consenting to be the tool of competing churches, and swayed by their bids on his coveted gifts. He degrades the office, shows himself not worthy of the office, if he consents to forsake a place where God has put him; where he is largely useful; where generous hearts surround him, are ready to give him, actually do give him, all he needs; and attempts the perilous grade that promises to take him higher in the scale of emolument or notability.
We can fix the just measure of a minister's support only by the statement of a principle. It is that measure of support which conduces to the highest effectiveness in his work. That is an average quantity, a medium quantity. The flush of gain, the excitement of rolling up property, can only be damaging to him. The harassments of poverty will necessarily cramp and deaden the life of all noble endeavor. What meets the case is an easy competence; that he have what he needs to make him comfortable; to set him free from corroding anxiety; to give him a tone of assurance favorable to vigorous work; a
sense of manly independence; a deliverance from a feeling of meanness; from a subjected and cringing spirit, as one afraid to affirm and press obligation. We strike a conception of the quantity as that which puts him in the best condition for his work. On the one hand, it is that which does not, by largeness of emolument or any item of worldly attraction, draw by unworthy motives aspirants into this field; and does not on the other hand, by rigor of place or unjust severities of treatment, repel from the office those who ought to enter it, and in this way deplete the ranks of competent Christian laborers.
This, then, the measure of support in the place or office; that it is a position in which those who enter it are assisted, enabled by the compensation rendered, to live on a scale which shall be a full average, if not a little above the average, of the community they serve; a position, therefore, in which they can assuredly live and be largely useful.
The reasons, in addition to those already given, for furnishing this measure of support, press on interest, conscience, sensibility. They so throng, that we can do little more than make a naked statement of them. The minister, then, should be thus equably supported.
1. That he may be enabled to give himself wholly to his work. This work is sufficient to tax all his powers and absorb all his time. Few men, for any reason, even for the necessities of a living, can go outside of it without detriment. Paul did; but he is the grand exception and anomaly of the ages. The man who truly desires this work, so desires it that he will lay down all other work for this alone, will choose to make this his sole work; and the savor of his example and the measure of his usefulness will turn almost entirely upon the singleness of his consecration to it.
2. That he may keep himself in the best condition for his work; which means that he be not tempted to over-work by a necessity laid upon him to do other things; which also means, that he be able to command the reasonable means of recuperation by diversion, travel, rest.
3. That he may furnish himself with the indispensable helps to his work; that it be put in his power to purchase the books and otherwise, the materials of thought, argument, exposition; whatever will feed and replenish his own mind, bring to it strength and opulence, and make it a storehouse of varied and exhaustless supply to the minds of the people. If the people but understood how solid and good books put into the hands of their minister find their terminus in themselves, they would load his arms and shelves with them, or give him the means to do it.
4. That he may be respectable, and appear respectable. In house, in furniture, in the dress and culture of his children, he must come up to a certain standard, or he drops in the public estimation and influence. If his bearing is mean, his words will be despised.
5. That he may be honest. To a just measure, he must be paid, that he may pay; may stand in that pecuniary supremacy Paul commends in the words, "Owe no man anything." The minister should have the power of standing on this high vantage-ground, that there may be nothing between him and the hearts and the consciences of his people; that he may enforce by word and deed all the claims of integrity, and lead the people to "love one another."
6. That he may be liberal; take the lead; be an example in Christian giving. One of his hardest functions everywhere will be to train his flock worthily to the 'grace of giving. No argument or eloquence of speech alone will do it, so terribly and deeply knotted and intrenched, even in Christian hearts often, is the lust of getting and laying up. He must lead the way, like that old hero of a weaponless fight, Gideon; he must be in a condition to say to the people when they come together to deal blows against this master lust, so loth to die, -with Gideon to say, "Look on me, and do likewise." No one thing is so important to a minister's efficacy in this respect as that he be in a condition that will enable him thus to be an example of giving to the people.