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he loved and trusted has suddenly become his enemy. Yet this is what we might have expected if we had adequately considered the infirmities of human nature and the forces by which national antipathies are generated and determined. Our kindred in Great Britain had seen with mingled pride and apprehension the portentous growth of the United States, and had been sometimes disgusted with that boastful and vain-glorious habit which has hitherto entered so largely into our national character. We cannot wonder that the British nation had some feeling of relief and satisfaction at the apparent downfall of a power that had seemed likely to rival “ the mistress of the seas," and that might have attempted some day to wrest the trident from her grasp. The political institution of the United States, though in some sense an outgrowth of ancient English law and liberty, had no place for the theoretical monarchy and the actual and powerful aristocracy of the British constitution. We cannot wonder that thousands of loyal subjects in Great Britain accepted with a cheerful feeling the apparent ruin of our federal democracy, and made haste to infer with joy the impossibility of any political welfare without a powerful aristocracy. In the United States there was no established Church; but all forms of worship were alike protected by the law, and alike dependent on the voluntary offerings of the people. We cannot wonder that in England, where the Established Church is ubiquitous in its presence and its power, and where all Church parties, High Church, Low Church, and Broad Church, and all theologies in the Church from ultra Calvinism to ultra Rationalism, agree in venerating the sanctity of tithes and in abhorring the impiety of a nation without a Church by law established, there was a religious feeling, widely diffused, which devotedly interpreted our national calamity as a revelation from heaven of God's wrath against our national impiety. Nor was this all. The island of Great Britian is one great hive of manufacturing industry; and British commerce has been for many ages the cynosure of British statemanship. But on the other hand the people of the United States had shown a determination to enrich their own country by a large development of manufacturing industry; and the commerce of the United States had seemed likely to rival the world-wide sweep, and to surpass the daring enterprise, of British commerce. We cannot wonder that the nation which the first Napoleon, in the insolence of a robber, thought to stigmatize by calling it “ a nation of shopkeepers,” and in which the great manufacturers and traders already share with the ancient aristocracy of land-owners the actual sovereignty of the empire, was moved with something like a national joy at what seemed to be the final paralysis and ruin of a great commercial rival. Yet there was one class in the population of Great Britain which surprised the world by standing firmly and bravely for us.
The operatives in the manufacturing districts were the first to suffer from the effects of the American conflict. But, as if by some instinct divinely given, they felt and knew that the conflict was a conflict for the rights of labor and the liberty of all mankind; and from first to last they steadfastly resisted all attempts to bring them through their sufferings into any sort of fellowship with the impious power that was struggling to found an empire on the principle that the proprietors of land and capital ought also to be the proprietors of their less fortunate fellow-men. Let us give due honor to the humble operatives in the mills and forges and countless workshops of Great Britain, whom God enabled to stand firm in the day of their calamity and of ours.
From our brethren of the Congregational churches in England, we expected at the first an unequivocal and constant declaration of sympathy with the American people. Were they not our brethren, inheritors with us of the faith and order for which the martyrs of Congregationalism suffered under Queen Elizabeth ? Did they not glory in our Pilgrim Fathers ? Was not our history their boast ? Was not our religious prosperity, our civil liberty, our marvellous progress among the nations, the most powerful of arguments for their principles? Were they ashamed of Milton and of Cromwell, or of the position which Britain held among the nations when a Congregationalist Lord Protector reigned in the place of the perjured and persecuting Stuarts? Was not our cause the good old cause of the Puritan against the Cavalier, acknowledged and proclaimed as such by our enemies? Had they not, in the freedom and fidelity of Congregational fellowship, rebuked us at sundry times and in divers manners, publicly and privately, through the press and by official communications, for the luke-warmness of our zeal and the imperfection of our testimony against the wickedness of slavery? And when at last the American people, roused in part by such remonstrances as theirs, and moved by the pressure of a purely religious feeling throughout the free States — a feeling to which the Congregationalism of New England and the North contributed more than its full share of glow and impulse — rendered, in the unequivocal form of a national election, its purpose to arrest the extension of slavery and to resist the insolent demands of the slave-holding and slave-trading interest, though at the hazard of war and national dissolution was it not to be expected that the Congregational churches and ministers of England, with one voice of no uncertain sound, would testify for the righteousness of our cause, not only as the cause of order against anarchy, and of constitutional government by votes against government by violence and arbitrary power— not only as the cause of religious liberty and the universal diffusion of knowledge against a system which made the Bible an incendiary book and the teaching of the alphabet a crime — but also as the cause of personal freedom, and of every man's right to his own limbs and faculties, against the hideous atrocity of subjecting a race to perpetual servitude, hopeless and unrewarded, and the impiety of perverting the Christian religion into a divine warrant for that atrocity.
Our brethren who bring to us in this assembly the congratulations of the English Congregational Union must not be permitted to return under any impression that we have not felt deeply and sorrowfully, through these four years of national agony, the actual position of English Congregationalists. We know that among them there have been some, whom it might be invidious to name, because we could not name them all, who have been, from first to last, our most constant, devoted, and faithful defenders. We frankly and gratefully acknowledge, on the testimony of the honored delegates here present, that the majority of the Congregational ministers and Churches in England have sympathized with us, and have prayed for our deliverance from our enemies, and our victory over the Antichrist that rose up to destroy us. But faithfulness to them and to Christ forbids us to forget that the dominant influences in the Congregational Union, and the ostensible organs of Congregational opinion in England, were against us, or that honored brethren who went from us to them, for the purpose of explaining our position, and asking for their sympathy and their prayers, were refused a hearing. Yet while we remember this, we remember it not as retaining any unkind remembrance of an injury to
We accept the presence of the beloved and honored delegates who have stood in our assembly as a proof that they now understand us, and that the ancient fraternity and unity between them and us shall be perpetual, and as a hopeful omen that between these kindred nations there shall be peace, ever growing more intimate and indissoluble by coöperation in all works of beneficence to mankind and of glory to God.
The report was accepted, and its adoption moved by Rev. Mr. Quint of Mass., and seconded by Rev. Dr. Thompson of New York. The Report was adopted, and the Council adjourned to 3, P. M.
WEDNESDAY, 3, P. M. Council reassembled.
Dr. Budington moved that the Business Committee be instructed to arrange the remaining business of the Council so that the body may adjourn on Friday night. The motion was lost.
The Committee on the Letter from Italy reported by Dr. Kirk, as follows:
Whereas, The Spirit of the Lord has breathed on the people of Italy, and rekindled the fires of godliness extinguished by the Roman hierarchy; and
Whereas, The providence of God is leading this people out from the bondage of supersti. tion and of a tyrannic priesthood; therefore,
Resolved, 1. That this Council recognize with fraternal sympathy, and with thankfulness to God, their attainment to the blessings of civil and religious liberty.
2. That this Council entertains a lively sympathy with every soul, however obscure, there and elsewhere, earnestly searching God's word to learn the character and will of God.
3. That this Council congratulates the various little bands of believers who are striving to organize themselves into churches of Christ under any of the several forms adopted in our Protestant countries.
4. That this Council regards with peculiar interest those who are founding free Italian Churches, independent of foreign control or dictation; seeking to rebuild on the foundation of Apostles and Prophets, Jesus Christ himself being the chief corner-stone.
5. That the Council request the Rev. Messrs. Clark of Milan, and Hall of Florence, to convey to our Italian brethren the expression of our sympathy, and the assurance that, by prayers and pecuniary contributions, we will do what in us lies to promote the advancement of Christ's kingdom in their beautiful and classic land.
The report was accepted and adopted.
The committee to whom was referred the subject of the relation of our denomination to Books and Tracts respectfully report:
They have considered the subject in the following order: I. What are the existing relations of the denomination to literature ? II. What are the disadvantages of the present order of things? III. What measures, if any, may wisely be introduced, to obviate these disadvantages ?
1. The Congregational churches, in all systematic operations by means of books, stand practically related to literature mainly through six different book-manufacturing and book-selling corporations : viz., 1. The American Bible Society. 2. The American Tract Society, Boston. 3. The American Tract Society, New York. 4. The American Sunday School Union. 5. The Massachusetts Sabbath School Society. 6. The Congregational Board of Publication.
Our method of operation through these corporations is simply this: to pay our
charitable contributions (amounting to a very large sum annually) to the treasuries of these corporations, by which they are expended, partly in the preparation of stereotype plates, and the manufacture of books; partly in the donation of books to missionary societies, churches, Sunday Schools, and other distributing agencies independent of the publishing societies; and partly in the maintenance of a system of book-selling or distribution, through depositories or colporters, by the publishing societies themselves. But our contributions for doing good by the circulation of good literature all pass through the hands, and are subjected to the discretion, of those concerned in the manufacture and sale of books, and are necessarily more or less complicated with their business arrangements.
II. Disadvantages of our present method. 1. Literary and Moral. 2. Economical.
1. The literary and moral disadvantages of our present method of benevolent operation by means of books may be stated briefly thus: that it shuts us up almost wholly to the use of the books issued by the societies which are the recipients of our contributions. The narrow classes of literature to which we have been thus disastrously restricted, may be thus defined: (1.) A negative religious literature, from which all characteristics of any individual or party have been scrupulously eliminated. (2.) A merely sectarian literature. And even within these very narrow limits we have had no access in our benevolent operations to the general field of such literature, but have been debarred from the publications of all private firms, and of societies other than those through which we have operated.
Some of the sorts of literature from the public use of which we have thus suffered ourselves to be excluded are these: (1.) Christian secular literature. For certain religions and philanthropic uses, — as for instance, for ship, and garrison, and hospital libraries, - an exclusively religious literature is inadequate. (2.) Generally the works of men characterized by the highest force and originality, whose writings cannot, without an excess of mutilation, be brought within the prescribed limits of the publishing societies, whether on the denominational, or on the “ Catholic,” basis. (3.) The works of good men of other denominations which are marked by any of their denominational peculiarities. (4.) The books from the publication of which our own societies have been forestalled by the activity of other societies or private firms, or from which they are debarred by copyright; and this class includes a large proportion of the best productions of our own time and country.
It cannot be doubted that one of the most serious disabilities with which Puritan principles have been crippled in their progress has been the bondage under which they have been placed to publishing societies, and especially to those which have been constructed on that fallacious “catholic basis,” which presumes that the condition of Christian union is the repression of individual convictions.
At the same time, it must be considered that in some cases, being debarred from the use of the best literature, we have been paying lavishly for the circulation of much that is second-rate or third-rate. It is especially true in the case of the old publication societies, the New York American Tract Society, and the American Sunday School Union, that their catalogues are cumbered with many works, proved to be unsalable, or grown obsolete and superseded by better works on the same subject, which, nevertheless, (the stereotype plates being on hand,) continue to be manufactured, because, although they cannot be sold, they can be given away at the expense of the churches.
It is by no means the least of our present moral disadvantages in this matter, that the essential and recognized inadequacy of the system of publishing societies to supply the books needed, especially for Sunday School libraries, has brought in upon us a mixed multitude of books that have passed no responsible revision, and
from which the majority of purchasers have no means of making wise selection. The mixture of pernicious books in Sunday School libraries is a grievous evil, to which our present arrangements afford no remedy.
2. Economical Disadvantages of our present system.
It is theoretcially bad economy to intrust large sums of money for the purchase and distribution of goods to the discretion of the same concern which manufactures the goods and keeps them for sale. Theoretically, it would be better that if various concerns, public or private, have undertaken to produce good books and tracts, and offer them for sale, the charitable gifts of the public should go into the hands, not of these interested parties, but of other and disinterested parties, who shall expend them wherever they can get the best books for the least money.
We should not press this theoretical point against a system which, on the whole, was found to work well. But, in fact, the very evils which might have been predicted from this system are widely believed to exist. This evil, certainly, has occurred, — that in consequence of their double position, as being at once the buyers and the sellers, the publishing societies have been subjected to constantly renewed suspicions, which, however undeserved, have been to them an annoyance and a hinderance. If they had been either buyers only, to give away, or manufacturers only, to sell, they would have escaped these imputations. If our donations had been intrusted to disinterested parties, with liberty to go into open market for the goods, they would have brought to bear on these various manufacturing corporations the healthful influence of competition, both with each other and with private enterprise. Private booksellers have constantly declared, that, if they were allowed equitably to compete with charitable corporations, they could undersell them. There could be no imaginable loss or disadvantage to the Christian public in giving them the chance.
3. What measures, if any, inay be wisely introduced to obviate existing disadvantages ?
We will not undertake, in this place, to lay out the details of a better system than the present. What we want is some arrangement by which the Church may reach forth her hand into every department of literature, and take the best books for her use, and place them wherever they are needed, distributing mainly by the hands of her servants, as an incident in the main work of spreading the gospel. Such an arrangement we do not believe to be beyond the wit of man. It would require a board of Christian scholars and critics, who should thoroughly winnow the vast mass of books and tracts that are offered to the public by societies of every sort and sect, and by private firms, and present the public with a new catalogue, made up only from the best among them all; and a board of capable business-men, who should see that the alms of the churches were not spent to disadvantage, and who should undertake to apply donations according to the intent of the donors. It would be a simple and inexpensive institution.
The committee take pleasure in announcing the fact, that these considerations have been for some time before the minds of some of the best and wisest men in the country, and that preliminary steps have already been taken, under the auspices of President Woolsey of Yale College, President Hopkins of Williams College, and others, which, it is hoped, will result in supplying this desideratum. (Signed)
H. W. BEECHER,
LOWELL MASON, JR. The report was adopted.