« VorigeDoorgaan »
7. That he may have some prudent furecast and providing for the loved ones he will be called to leave. Some may think faith will dispense with this; yet humanity demands this, that he leave something for the helpless behind.
8. That the favor of the Master may be conciliated toward his churches. Just and liberal in their treatment of the servants he sends to them, the like the style and measure of his dispensation to them. If it is a course of withholding on the part of any of the churches ; a niggardly policy; depressing and grinding down the promulgers of this free and most generous gospel, making them compulsory patterns of self-denial, and fleshly mortification ; then probably receive they, in the like, from the Divine source. It proves a ministry of leanness to them, on the principle that their reaping is according to their sowing. We have here doubtless the explanation of numberless parched and arid fields. It is a grand law of God's treatment — With the merciful he will show himself merciful, with the froward he will show himself froward. And, we may add, with the stingy he will show himself stingy.
9. There is another reason for yielding an equable support, according as we have defined it; viz., if it be not done, ministers will not be to be supported. It is possible that there be a treatment of them that shall not only diminish, but threaten to run the class out.
Christian men, appointed to do God's service, will stand forth ready to bear cheerfully any severity of lot God may appoint for them. But the stint and the mean withholding of men, they will not so degrade themselves as to put up with that; but with a selfrespecting independence will they be tempted to say to these men too niggardly to pay in support of God's free gospel of saving, in the words of Paul, “ Thy money perish with thee.” Any hardship God ordains in the fulfilment of his commission, let the servant of this gospel rejoice and glory to bear. Let no servant shun the service because of the hardship. Be this ever and supremely the motive which draws into this field the highest and noblest talent, — the privilege to serve Christ in the ministry of his gospel, though in the want of all things.
When the naked work or office ceases to have the power to draw the men, then it is a function, an office, which can no longer find men ; the absence of them being proof that the race of fit men no longer exists.
The above constitute what one rightly calls the economic reason why the Church should worthily support its ministry.
There is another and higher we have previously touched, which is the moral reason that wbich shows it to be eternally right that the preacher of the gospel be compensated for his service. It is the reason the Lord gives, “ The laborer is worthy of his hire ;” a statement of principle which makes it infinitely just that he be paid for the value of services rendered services which are literally invaluable, lying beyond the power of money to measure.
We come to another department of the topic; viz.,
The mode of payment. This is of importance as well as the measure. It is a satisfaction to the minister, after he has wrought and deserved and earned, to receive what he needs in equity, as matter of just due. He knows, and the people also, that it is matter of just debt. He feels a more manly sentiment when it comes regularly, punctually, cheerfully, as what is due him. If it is looked upon, in any sense, as charity; if his support is made by contract, inadequate through avarice, when the people are abundantly able to make it a sufficiency, and then they supplement, piece out the stipend, for this reason deficient, by donations in visits and otherwise ; though in the end he may receive as much, yet the mode is somewhat degrading to him, — degrading that he has to take as a gift what is so ascendantly his due. If the people choose to make gifts to their ministers, over and above a just compensation for service, it is all amiable; honorable to both parties. If they put to him as a present what they owe to him as a debt, it is not honorable to either of the parties. These sunny-side chapters, found weekly in our religious papers, if established as the people's mode in part of paying their minister, then brood they over the future of our Zion in most ominous shape. They are admissible only as setting the pastor by an emergency, which comes by a temporary rise of prices.
We lay down this as indispensable in the arrangement of the minister's support; viz., that there be a legally constituted corporate body responsible for his support. Then, if individuals fail, this body stands as good; held according to the contract. We deprecate the practice of bringing the minister at the beginning, and annually ever after, to the test of a subscription-paper, the figures of which, in the putting-down, are the votes for his call or his continuance. The failure to cancel any of these subscriptions, in some cases, is set to the minister's account; made detractions from his stipulated pay.
We like the theory, and are clear in commending it where circumstances favor, — the theory of no indiridual property in the house of God. All contributions to build it are gifts to the Church for this purpose; the house held by the Church for God and his worship, and the minister's support provided for by the rentals of the place. This comes as near to a free Church as is feasible or desirable. It is desirable, and important as a means of spiritual benefit from the service, that all responsible members of the body be instructed, encouraged, and expected to bear some part, help in some form, of payment – the body to meet the expenses of sustaining the worship and ordinances of God.
It is a principle most will admit, that the primal obligation to support the minister lies with the Church he serves, in such form as they may choose ; each Church, as a general thing, held solely responsible for its own minister. While this is valid and true, it is also true that the able churches are bound to help support the weak — the ministers of the weak churches. Here lies the argument and appeal for home missions.
Another point, which may not be passed in this discussion, is the minister's function and responsibility in the matter of his own support. It being a contract between him and the people, of course there is a side for him to fulfil.
The main consideration here is that he do his work to the extent of his ability - all he has consecrated to the service of God in promoting the highest interests of his people. His right to a support as a minister depends upon the fact that he is a minister only.
As another item of duty resting upon him, let him keep young and fresh, that he may do the work a long time; keep young by continuing to grow intellectually as well as spiritually, even up to length of years. For every man has a claim to be held as young so long as he keeps growing. Fresh and full of fire, let him make the people forget that he is an old man, even when he is beginning to be one. Let the people also bear with the offence which their minister cannot wholly avoid taking on; viz., some of the outer signs of age. There is a wrong done to some of the best and most useful men of the pulpit, by a judgment or demand which cuts short, many years, their term of service, and takes away their breath - men in the acme of their strength and their usefulness but for the inevitable signs just alluded to. Moses at eighty said, “I cannot speak, for I am a child.” The people now sometimes reverse his plea against speaking, and hurl it into the face of the veteran - you cannot speak — not fit to speak because you are growing old. “ Milk for babes,” says Paul in substance. The people say now, Babes to dispense the milk. There is coming to be almost an insane demand for young ministers ; nearer to boys, the better. Still there is another and a conflicting taste abroad, which demands that they pause a while at Jericho. For we have come to a time when a man's hair is an essential part of him.
Another item in the minister's responsibility in his own support is that he be a man and his wife a woman of stable and frugal ideas as to what constitutes a living. While they should not be subjected to live meanly, they should be willing to live moderately; in that medium condition which doubtless is the most conducive to comfort, respectability, and usefulness. It is the case with some ministers, that they are not supported because they are not supportable; good ministers in most regards, only they have not the faculty to come down to a minister's stipend of living. They are given to fancies and fashions which overleap all the regular estimates of the people. It is important that the minister regulate and adjust his expenditures to a tolerably fixed scale, in order that the people may know right along the probable limit of their responsibility in this regard.
There is still another department of the minister's function in his own support. It is incumbent on him to educate his people to integrity and benevolence; make them honest and benevolent. The first done, they will pay as they agree. The second done, they will agree to furnish him a reasonable amount.
The minister, to do this part of his work thoroughly, must be on his guard against the prevalent fallacy, that converting men, making them Christians, of course makes them honest and benevolent. Frequent and painful facts shows that it does not of course. Christians we must believe we have, and, notwithstanding the grace of God, not strictly, purely, honest; certainly not free to give and do for the cause of God and the saving of
Let the minister put in clearly and specifically truth, precept, instruction, for the grace of God to vivify. And let him persist to do this, and be still more faithful and specific, till the conscience is brought up to a point of enlightenment and measure of fidelity, where, so far as his flock is concerned, not only himself, but all other men, will be paid what is due to them, if to pay is possible.
Doctrine, duty also, line upon line, on the other cardinal virtue, benevolence; the disposition to disburse freely for all good objects. To the doctrine, the instruction, precept, which here too must lead, let practice be made to follow closely and perpetually, Nothing like giving to make people love giving.
There is a hurtful fallacy here to be guarded against ; that giving depletes the resources, and so reduces the ability of a Christian man or body. The minister in a circle of small means, in a parish of limited strength, is liable to reason directly wrong; viz., thus : If I am to be supported, I must be on the watch, and use my influence to keep the money mainly at home. He does so, and he takes the high road to starvation. And he deserves to.
Let him change his policy, and throw wide open his heart; take into it the whole world, and make it his glad rule to help, personally and through his people, all good objects ; thus lead his people in acts of giving, till they attain to a hearty jove of giving, that minister's support has a basis equal to the strength of two Gibraltars; one the integrity of his people, the other the benevolence of the people.
This report was accepted, and reference ordered to a special committee.
On motion of the chairman of the Committee of Nominations, the following persons were added to the committee to whom had been referred the report of the Committee on a Declaration of Faith : viz., Prof. Harris, of Maine ; Prof. Park, of Massachusetts; Prof. Lawrence, of Connecticut; Prof. Porter, of Connecticut; Prof. Haven, of Illinois; Prof. Fairchild, of Ohio.
A half-hour was spent in devotional exercises.
The Committee on Nomination presented the following lists of committees, which were approved by the Council; viz.,
Committee to whom was referred the Report on Evangelization at the West and South – Rev. S. W. S. Dutton, D. D., Connecticut; Hon. Samuel Williston, Massachusetts ; Rev. B. P. Stone, D. D., New Hampshire; Rev. L. H. Parker, Illinois ; Rev. D. Cleary, Wisconsin; Hon. F. 0. Parish, Ohio ; Rev. J. Guernsey, Iowa ; Rev. W. Crawford, Colorado ; Jacob Bacon, Esq., California ; Rev. George H. Atkinson,' Oregon.
Committee to make out the Roll of this Council — Rev. E. Beecher, D. D., Illinois; Dea. E. F. Duren, Maine ; Rev. J. K. Young, D. D., New Hampshire; Rev. E. H. Byington, Vermont; Rev. J. W. Harding, Massachusetts ; Rev. W. Barrows, Massachusetts; Rev. R. C. Learned, Connecticut; Rowland Hazard, Esq., Rhode Island; Rev. L. Smith Hobart, New York; Rev. Edwin Hawes, Pennsylvania ; Rev. Edwin Johnson, Maryland; Rev. S. Kelsey, Deleware; Rev. A. S. Kedzie, Michigan; Rev. S. H. Emery, Ilinois; Rev. J. W. Healey, Wisconsin; Rev. J. A. Reed, lowa; Rev. Richard Hall, Minnesota; Rev. J. L. Jenkins, Indiana; Rev. J. M. Sturtevant, Jr., Missouri; Rev. L. Bodwell, Kansas; Rev. Reuben Gaylord, Nebraska ; Rev. W. Crawford, Colorado; Rev. Kinsley Twining, California; Rev. J. M. Holmes, New Jersey; Rev. George Darling, Ohio.
On the Relation of Congregationalism to Foreign Missions - Rev. W. I. Budington, D. D., New York; Rev. Z. Eddy, D. D., Massachusetts; Rev. C. C. Parker, Vermont; Rev. William Carter, Illinois; Hon. Benj. Douglass, Connecticut.
At 12 M. the roll was called, as by special order.
It was Voted, That a special committee of five be appointed by this Council to consider the subject of securing for the permanent use of our denomination a house of worship in the City of Washington, and, if they deem it expedient for the churches of our order to engage in such a movement, to report to the Council a plan for its accomplishment.
The Committee of Nomination nominated the following to be the Committee thus ordered, and they were so appointed : viz., Henry C. Bowen, Esq., New York; Dea. Charles Stoddard, Massachusetts; Rev. Leonard Bacon, D. D., Connecticut ; Hon. Douglass Putnam, Ohio; Hon. S. C. Pomeroy, Kansas.
Several communications were read and appropriately referred to various standing committees.
It was Voted, That a special committee be appointed who shall consider and report to this Council what deliverance, if any, it ought to make on the subject of temperance.
It was Voted, That a special committee be appointed to consider and report upon a paper presented proposing “ An American Protestant Assembly.”
On motion of the chairman of the Committee of Nominations, Rev. E. F. Burr, of Connecticut, was added to the Committee on Church Polity.
The Committee on Education for the Ministry made partial report by Rev. Ray Palmer, D. D., chairman, as follows:
EDUCATION OF YOUNG MEN FOR THE MINISTRY.
By the conference of committees from the principal ecclesiastical bodies representing the Congregational churches in the United States, which met at New York, in the chapel of the Broadway Tabernacle Church, on the seventeenth of November, 1861, the undersigned were appointed a committee to call the attention of the National Council to be assembled at Boston on the fourteenth of June, 1865, to the subject of the education of young men for the Christian ministry, and to make such suggestions as might facilitate the thorough consideration and discussion of the topic. The duty so imposed has seemed to them a difficult one. The magnitude of the matter in itself; its relation to various questions pertaining to the state and duty of the churches; to the condition and prospects of our colleges, 'and especially of our theological institutions; to the work of home evangelization and that of foreign missions; and the new aspects under which it is just now providentially presented; render it no easy thing to exhibit it so concisely that it can be comprehended at a single view, and yet so fully that it shall make, in its details, anything like the desired impression. The committee, accordingly, have not been able to make their statement so brief as they desired; but they have not been will. ing, for the sake of brevity, to omit anything that seemed necessary to be said in order to a just view of the subject. If they have succeeded in bringing it fairly before the Council for discussion, they suppose that this is all that was expected of them. They, therefore, respectfully submit the following paper:
FACTS BEARING ON THE SUBJECT OF THE EDUCATION OF YOUNG MEN FOR
1. From the day when the Pilgrims landed on Plymouth Rock, it has been the settled conviction of our Congregational churches, that for the high and responsible work of the Christian teacher a thorough intellectual discipline and culture, a truly liberal education, is, as the rule, imperatively demanded. No other view could be expected to prevail in churches whose earliest pastors were many of them men of eminent learning, and wore the honors of the highest scholarship in the English universities. To provide the means of raising up for themselves an educated ministry, was, it is well known, one of the first things connected with their settlement here on which they bestowed anxious care and thought. Our standard of ministerial education has, therefore, always been relatively high ; for the last fifty years it has been rising steadily; and it is no longer a question with us whether it should be carried to the highest practicable point.
2. The number of young men in a course of preparation for the ministry, as compared with the whole number of persons pursuing liberal studies, has for the last twelve or fifteen years been on the whole materially diminishing. The inducements offered to Christian young men to enter into secular pursuits, the growing respectability of teaching as a profession, the increasing profitableness of literature, the attractions of the political arena, the new enterprises opened on every hand and promising rapid gains— all the stimulants, in short, which are fitted to stir an honorable ambition in gifted minds, have exerted an effective influence in diverting from the sacred office those who might naturally have been expected to desire to enter it. A mistaken impression has also prevailed that the ranks of the ministry were already over-full, and by this error many have doubtless been turned aside. The demands of the war just closing have called great numbers of young men not only to leave their studies, but to lay down their lives, for the sacred cause of national unity and freedom. By these and other causes, it has come to pass that the number of students in our colleges and seminaries who are looking forward to the service of Christ in the pulpit is painfully small, just when the need of men in this holy work is becoming every day more urgent.