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REPORT OF THE COMMITTEE “ ON A PROTESTANT ASSEMBLY.”
The papers brought before this body in reference to a Protestant Assembly, and referred to a special committee, emanated from two sources having the same general object in view. The Young Men's Christian Association which recently held a convention in the city of Philadelphia, regarding the signs of the times as indicating greater harmony among brethren, recommended that measures be taken for securing a concert of action on the part of all Protestant denominations, to resist the encroachments of infidelity, in its varied phases of bold opposition to the gospel; as well as to promote harmony and love among those who belong to the household of faith. The General Assembly of the Presbyterian Church, which held its late session in the city of Pittsburg, Pa., had a more definite form given to this subject in the following resolutions, which were presented for its consideration :
Resolved, That the wide-spread influence of infidelity, in its varied phases of bold atheism and rationalistic philosophy, which is now putting forth redoubled energies for its dissemination throughout every section of our land, calls for the prompt and united action of evangelical Christians, in a clear, honest, and uncompromising enunciation of the great cardinal doctrines of grace, and a bold defence of the truth as it is in Jesus.
Resolved, That in the providence of God we believe that a solemn responsibility is now laid upon the Church of the Lord Jesus Christ in this country to manifest her loyalty to the Great King, by maintaining inviolate and steadfast, both by the enunciations of the pulpit and the issues of the press, the great principles of the gospel, which are designed to elevate the cross, establish the kingdom of Christ, and ultimately overthrow the whole system of error.
Resolved, That the fearful growth of the Papacy, both as an ecclesiastical and civil power in this land, is well calculated to awaken the fears and arouse the mightiest energies of the entire Protestant community, and call imperiously for the adoption of measures at once timely and adequate to the emergency, so that we may, under the divine blessing, be enabled to counteract the secret and malign influence of the man of sin, and present an unbroken front of the army of truth against this system of corruption which is hourly girding itself for the approaching conflict.
Resolved, That it is our candid judgment that the present is an auspicious moment to inaugurate such a measure, and that, while we would not presume to dictate, we would most respectfully request the General Assembly of the Presbyterian Church, now in session in this city (Pittsburg), to put forth a suitable deliverance upon these important subjects, and to take steps to have such action concurred in by other branches of our American Protestant Church, so as to bring about the formation of a great national Protestant league, which, by its constition, shall be fully up to the urgent demands and necessities of the times.
Resolved, That a committee of four ministers and three laymen be appointed by this meeting to present this subject to the General Assembly, and to be associated with a similar committee to be appointed by that body in devising plans by which a general and concerted movement of all the Protestant force in the land may be brought about, and bold, continuous, and vigorous protest, by word and act, shall be enunciated against both infidelity and Roman Catholicism, the arch enemies of truth in the midst of the professing Church of God, and arch traitors to civil and religious freedom throughout the world.
These resolutions elicited the warm approval of the Assembly to that degree that they appointed a large committee to carry out the spirit of them in coöperation with committees which may be, or have been, appointed by other denominations for a like purpose. The subject has been urged also on the attention of this body, by private letters entitling it to serious consideration. Your committee therefore recommend the passage of the following resolution by this Congregational Council :
Resolved, That a committee, consisting of five clergymen and an equal number of laymen, be appointed, to act in concert with other committees similarly appointed by other evangelical denominations, for the purpose of giving expression to our desire for more outward fellowship, and more vigorous co-operation for the defence of Protestant Christianity against the encroachments of Roman Catholicism and infidelity in our land. For the Committee,
JEREMIAH TAYLOR, Chairman.
Rev. Dr. Blodgett, of Rhode Island, made a report on Temperance, as follows:
REPORT OF COMMITTEE ON TEMPERANCE.
The special committee to whom was referred the subject of temperance, under the form of an inquiry, " whether any, and, if so, what deliverance should be made on the subject by the National Council,” make the following report.
It is eminently fitting that the Council send forth to the nation a distinct and solemn testimony in favor of the principles of temperance. The subject is too tenderly associated with the labors and “ blessed memory” of many of the fathers in our ministry who gave to it their labors and their prayers; and it too deeply concerns the interests of morality and religion for the present and for the future of our blood-bought country to allow us to refrain from giving it an open and hearty indorsement.
Intemperance is a sin against God, a curse to society, a foe to the purity of the Church and its ministry, a corruption of the young, a hinderance to the profitable hearing of the word of God, and so to the conversion and salvation of men. Under various pretences of health and hospitality, and by various influences of appetite and gain, and those growing out of the late war with rebellion, drinking usages are widely prevailing, to the danger of all and to the destruction of many of our young men, the late defenders, and the future hope, of our country.
That the alarming progress of the evil may be arrested, and our country saved from a more disastrous doom than that in which the late rebellion threatened to involve it, in the name of humanity, patriotism, morality, and religion, yea, in the name of God, we earnestly invite the coöperation of ministers and Christians, of teachers in our schools, of officers in our colleges, of our legislators and our ministers of justice, of our physicians and lawyers, and of our rulers in all departments of government, that our nation may be saved from the dangers which impend from the increasing prevalence of intemperance.
We would give the trumpet that certain sound which such men as Lyman Beecher and Justin Edwards gave, when the nation was aroused from its guilty slumber, and marshalled under God for that great moral battle, in which the friends of temperance so signally triumphed.
The committee submit for the adoption of the Council the following resolutions ; viz. :
1. Resolved, That this Council hails with satisfaction and gratitude to God the renewal of temperance efforts, in a Christian spirit, and on the scriptural principle of self-denial for personal safety and the good of others, efforts long successfully urged by wise and good men in our own ministry and churches, and in the ministry and churches of other denominations; and that we regard the family, the Sunday School, the Church and the congregation, and above all the ministry, as the fitting channels of influence, on this as on all other great moral questions.
2. Resolved, That while we accept with thankfulness the aid of legislation, in the conflict with intemperance, we must still rely mainly upon moral and spiritual appliances for progress and final triumph; and that we hold the temperance enterprise thus prosecuted to be just one method of that home evangelization in which this Council is so deeply and so properly engaged, and that, too, a method indispensable to the complete success of that divine work of evangelization.
3. Resolved, That, while we acknowledge with great satisfaction the eminent services of many of the medical profession in the cause of temperance, we hold it to be matter of regret that such numbers prescribe intoxicating beverages for convalescent and other patients; and we would earnestly inquire if the superior science and wisdom of the profession cannot find substitutes for such inebriating tonics, the use of which will be attended with less peril to those who are under the power of an incipient or confirmed appetite for intoxicating drinks.
4. Resolved, That we receive with satisfaction the invitation to send a delegation to the National Temperance Convention to be holden at Saratoga, New York, August 1st, 1865; and that we respond to that invitation by appointing six delegates, headed by our respected Moderator, to that convention, with the desire to add the testimony of this national body to that of the many State and local bodies to be represented in that convention. (Signed)
The report was accepted, and it was moved to strike out the word “ prohibition” in the 2d resolution. The amendment was adopted.
Mr. Williams, of New York, moved to amend by appending his resolutions condemning the improper use of tobacco. The motion was lost.
It was moved to reconsider the motion striking out the word “prohibition.” The motion was lost.
The report as amended, was adopted.
Rev. Prof. Park made a report from the committee to whom was referred the report on education at the West, as follows:
The special Committee on Education at the West respectfully report the following resolutions :
Resolved, That in order to the raising-up of an educated ministry for the supply of the churches of the new States now becoming filled by the advancing tide of population, and to meet the large demands of those States which recent events have opened to Christian influence, it is a fundamental necessity that well-indorsed and well-manned collegiate and theological institutions should be established, and that, too, in the best positions.
Resolved, That the Society for the Promotion of Collegiate and Theological Education at the West, in rendering effectual aid to fourteen collegiate and theological institutions, scattered from Eastern Ohio to the Pacific coast, so placing them on sure foundations, and in so managing this whole subject as at once to have saved the churches from annoyance and to have given a wise direction to their charities, has accomplished a work of great and enduring benefit, which this Council recognize with gratitude to God, by whose help it has been wrought.
Resolved, That in view of the great work yet remaining to be done both at the West and in the South, and of the admirable adaptation of this society to the accomplishment of it with the least possible friction and expense, this Council heartily commend it to the increased confidence and larger liberality of the churches represented here.
Report of Special Committee on Theological and Collegiate Education.
Whereas, Our brethren in Kansas are laying the foundation of a Congregational College, which shall, on the field of its early victory, be a monument of the triumph of freedom over slavery; a memorial of that Christian emancipator whose name it bears; a center of Con
gregational and Christian influence, and a source of ministerial supply for the Missouri Valley and the regions beyond:
Resolved, That we commend the enterprise to the confidence, sympathy, and liberal support of all friends of New England principles and polity, civil and religious liberty, and home evangelization; and yet that their appeal to the public be only through and in accordance with the rules of the Society for the Promotion of Collegiate and Theological Education at the West.
The Report was accepted and adopted.
The Nominating Committee reported the following nominations for Committees, who were appointed : viz.,
Committee to make special appeal for the $750,000 — Rev. E. B. Webb, Mass.; Rev. T. P. Field, D.D., Conn.; Rev. J. C. Holbrook, D.D., N. Y.; Rev. G. S. F. Savage, Ill. ; Rev. R. Hall, Min.
Committee on American Protestant Assembly - Rev. Jeremiah Taylor, D.D., Conn.;
D. S. Williams, N. Y.; W. Carter, Ill. ; Hon. E. D. Holton, Wis.; Rev. John Patchin, Mich. ; Rev. J. Patterson, Iowa; Rev. Charles Shedd, Min.; Rev. E. H. Byington, Vt.; Dea. S. W. Buffum, N. H.; Dea. Jacob Blanchard, Me.
Delegates to the National Temperance Convention - His Excellency Gov. W. A. Buckingham, Conn. ; Hon. C. G. Hammond, Ill.; Rev. J. P. Thompson, D.D., N. Y.; Hon. E. D. Holton, Wis.; Charles Stackpole, Esq., Me.; Rev. H. M. Dexter, Mass.
The Moderator and Assistant Moderator reported the following to be the Committee on Church Polity :
Rev. Dr. Bacon, Conn.; Rev. A. H. Quint, Mass. ; Rev. Henry M. Storrs, Ohio; Rev. Edward A. Parks, D. D., Mass.; Rev. Samuel Harris, D.D., Me.; Rev. Sam’l C. Bartlett, D. D., Ill. ; Rev. Prof. G. P. Fisher, Conn.; Rev. Prof. Fairchild, Ohio; Rev. Ed. A. Lawrence, D. D., Conn.; Rev. J. P. Gulliver, Conn.; Rev. Benj. Labaree, D. D., Vt.; Rev. Mark Hopkins, D. D., Mass.; Rev. Wm. Barrows, Mass.; Rev. J. M. Sturtevant, D. D., Ill. ; Rev. T. M. Post, D. D., Mo.; Rev. Ed. Beecher, D. D., III.; Rev. Wm. Salter, Iowa ; Rev. M. Hoyt, Mich. ; Rev. D. Burt, Minn.; Rev. J.P. Thompson, D.D., N. Y.; Hon. Woodbury Davis, Me.; Hon. Henry Stockbridge, Md.; Hon. John H. Brookway, Conn.; Rev. N. A. Hyde, Ind. ; Rev. Leonard Swain, D. D., R. I.; Rev. Richard Cordley, Kan.; A. Finch, Esq., Wis.; Warren Currier, Esq., Mo.; Rev. R. Anderson, D. D., Mass.
The Committee on Parochial Evangelization reported as follows:
REPORT OF THE COMMITTEE ON PAROCHIAL EVANGELIZATION.
The Committee, to whom was submitted the paper on Parochial Evangelization, presented to the Council, would respectfully report.
The relation which the work of Parochial Evangelization bears to other objects of Christian enterprise will be obvious at a glance. It is preliminary, and, as a condition of ultimate success, indispensable. How, for instance, can the great work of evangelization at the West and South, which has occupied so large a portion of the time of this Council, be carried on, unless our home communities are pervaded and permeated by the spirit of the gospel? How are foreign missions to be sustained if heathenism is intrenched on our own shores? Whence are to come the future ministers and missionaries of the cross if there are no Christian
homes, and young men consecrated from their infancy to Christ and the Church ? How are collegiate and theological institutions to be established and endowed, unless the wealth of the land is in the hands of men, who, having first given themselves to God, acknowledge his claim upon all that they possess? How are the treasuries of our various benevolent societies to be supplied if there are no springs of piety and Christian sympathy to feed the channels of benevolence, and send the streams that make glad the city of our God? We do not say that no foreign work is to be done until the whole home field is cultivated, and made as the garden of the Lord; that, until our own parishes are thoroughly evangelized, the heathen must be left to perish; but what hope can we have of final success in convincing the world for Christ, unless his kingdom be established in the hearts and homes of our own people? The stream will not rise above our fountain. The fruits of the Spirit must somewhere be grown before they can be transplanted and propagated. What advantage will it be to build new churches at the West and South if the churches of New England are to die out and disappear? Why plant a Christian empire in the heart of Asia or Africa with a heathen population at our very doors ? Let not the Church, " who is the mother of us all,” ever be obliged to say, “ They made me the keeper of the vineyards, but mine own vineyards have I not kept.”'
Your Committee are more and more impressed with the importance of this work. They have carefully examined and considered the Report submitted to their inspection. They indorse substantially the recommendations appended at the close, and commend the Report as a whole to the earnest and prayerful consideration of the churches represented in Council.
The Committee do not feel called upon to discuss anew the general subject; this is not necessary. But there are certain fundamental truths or principles brought to view in the Report, to which they would call special attention, that it may be understood what is the precise work, and what substantially are the measures, to which the Council virtually pledge themselves, should the Report in question be adopted.
1. The Church in its Design.
The Church is a brotherhood of believers, united in the bonds of Christian fellowship, for the upbuilding of Christ's kingdom among themselves and throughout the world. In its very nature and design, the Church is aggressive; nor will it have done its work until every man, woman, and child is brought under the power of the gospel.
2. The Parochial Relations of the Church.
Every local Church is the centre of a parish, more or less extended as the case may be. Geographical limits cannot always be assigned, nor is it necessary that they should be. Two or more families may come within the same bounds, and cover much the same ground. The parish of each Church consists of all the families not belonging to other congregations within its reach. For the evangelization of these, it is held of God responsible. There may be outlying districts, neglected neighborhoods, on the borders of towns and villages. These also are to be cared for. In some way, by systematic visitation, by neighborhood prayer-meetings and occasional preaching services, by mission Sabbath Schools and the distribution of religious books and tracts, by the circulation of the Scriptures and the employment perhaps of Bible-readers, the people of such outlying neighborhoods are to be made acquainted with the truths of the gospel. And these movements are to be under the supervision of the Church; not spasmodic, but steady; not philanthropic simply, but Christian; the forth-putting, on the part of the Church, of its activity and