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that he has learning and accomplishments which peculiarly fit him to labor in some honorable station at home. You cannot bear the thought of parting with bim forever. But are not you and your son specially called upon to help that indigent youth who longs to carry the name of his Saviour to some distant region of the earth, if he can only have the adequate intellectual and spiritual preparation ? Ought you to hesitate in aiding him for this enterprise ? And after the ut most which you have done in a pecuniary way, which is the beneficiary,-you, who dwell in the bosom of your family, encircled with literary and religious privileges more than you can name, or he, who has hazarded his life on the high places of the field ?
A small number of men in our country receive an annual pension of eighty or ninety dollars. But who are the beneficiaries? Those who pay these pensions, or the scarred and maimed velerans, the venerable relics of half a hundred battle fields, who sowed in blood the ample harvests which we are now reaping? Who is the beneficiary; he who gives fifty cents a year to the Foreign Mission treasury, or he whose life-blood is burnt up under the blazing sun of the tropics, or who encounters a life of great self-denial in the unbroken forests of the West?
By these remarks we would not imply that gratitude is not becoming in one who is assisted in his education for the ministry. In proportion as he is qualified for the work to which he is looking forward, he will be free from all assumption, from all airs of self-importance, from all disposition to claim anything from his fellow Christians. At the same time there ought to be, as the apostle says, an equality. One man is not bound to perform the labors of every body else, and to wear an opprobrious epithet in addition. If it is his duty to spend his life among the heathen, then it is the duly of the churches to help him to get ready to go. They are not so much conferring a favor on him, as clearing their own skirts from the blood of the perishing pagan. It is not charity which they are exhibiting, it is obligation which not one of them can guiltlessly shake off. He is indeed bound to be humble, grateful, prudent,—but chiefly from his relations to his Saviour. He is not authorized to take any course which will diminish in his bosom that sense of manly self-respect without which a minister or missionary is worth but little.
2. Another difficulty arises from inadequate views of the importance of a protracted course of education. The subject is not easily apprehended on the part of many. It does not touch so many chords of sympathy in the human bosom as most other charitable objects do. It has but few tales of suffering to narrate which find a responsive echo in a thousand hearts. It has no direct relations either to the wants of the body or of the soul. It is based on something less tangible, which has fewer points of contact with the common apprehension. It proceeds on the assumption that those who aspire to be teachers in religion, must be men of patient reflection, of deliberate purpose, whose understanding is practised to discern good and avil, who possess that combined sound judgment and learning which is the result of the study of books and of men ; who can stand up before others with something of that authority which good sense, correct taste, a disciplined understanding and unaffected piety never fail to command. These acquisitions, however, are the result of time, of long and careful attention, of habits of exact study, and of years of assiduous application to the Father of Spirits, who endows with a portion of his own wisdom him, and him only, who both hopes and quietly waits for the blessing.
It is difficult, however, to make these things obvious to the Christian public, to make them enter into and become part of the
permanent convictions of the mass of Christians. They can see the value of the distribution of the Bible, or of the Saint's Rest, or of the erection of the Sailor's Home, or that a foreign missionary must have his daily bread; but they cannot exactly see the importance of spending ten of the best years of one's life in the schools, or what bearing it has upon the work of going out and telling men the simple story of the
It is owing to this cause, in part, that the society has labored under difficulty from its foundation. Its aim is too intellectual, too far removed from the general sympathy. The time is too long between the sowing of the seed and the reaping of the harvest. Immediate, palpable result is the order of the day. The precept of the Scriptureis reversed, and men choose to walk by sense, not by faith. The acquisition of ministerial education has too much to do with the future and the invisible to ensure a wide-spread and continued popu larity.
3. Some prejudice has resulted from the fact that the plan of the Education Society appears to be exalting the claims, and multiplying the numbers of one of the Icarned professions. Why this incessant magnifying of a single class of men? Why this unintermitted protrusion of the importance of the clerical function? Why must all other orders of society be, impliedly at least, dishonored by ringing perpetual changes upon the dignity of the ministerial office, which is held, at the best, but by an insignificant portion of the community ? Must our eleven sheaves fall down and do obei. sance to this solitary bundle of grain ?
Complaints like these may not often take the form of words, but that they are felt by an increasing number of Christians in our country, there can be no doubt.
The separation of society into distinct orders does not accord with some tendencies of the age. Resistance to it appears to be the right and duty of all who would aspire to the claim of freemen. Those who have not advanced thus far in opposition to the existing condition of things, experience some hesitation, or, at least, do not give their cordial support to an institution that seems designed to augment the factitious distinctions of society.
A sufficient reply to objections of this kind is found in the fact, that the Christian Ministry is of divine appointment, unequivocally and decisively, for all such as believe in the inspiration of the Scriptures; that without its active agency no other great interest of society is safe or can prosper; and that, if it is indispensable for one community, it is equally so for all communities. Thus the question of its increase is the same as the question, whether there shall be any ministry at all. It ought, also, to be recollected that this profession stands perfectly distinct from all others in its renunciation of earthly objects at the outset. It seeks you, not yours. It therefore comes into competition with no other interest. Its kingdom is not of this world. It is the servant of all for the good of all. It is the friend of all alike. It ought therefore to excite no suspicions, when in reality it affords the main safeguard for the most precious interests of man. The question of its increase is the question whether civilization, literalure, national prosperity, shall advance, as truly as it is whether Christianity shall make any further progress.
4. Another, and a principal cause of the difficulties with which the Society has labored, is the alleged failure, intellectual or moral, of many who have been aided. The Society has been charged with an indiscriminate distribution of its funds. The worthy and the unworthy have alike shared its bounties. Deeply seated prejudices have been fostered in many
communities, it is affirmed, by the delinquencies of those who were living on sacred funds.
It is not denied that there have been disappointed hopes ; fond expectations have been blasted. In other words, imperfection has characterized this department of labor asit has every other. Directors and committees are not endued with the skill to divine. They lay no claim to the Apostolic gift of discerning of spirits. They know that to judge of human character is frequently a matter of great delicacy and diffirultyNothing is more common than tardy growih and late development. The promises of spring are no certain index of the harvests of summer. Brilliant precocily not unfrequently sinks into a dull and stationary middle-age. Not a few men who have honored the ministerial office would have certainly been thrust back to their old calling, if those summary rules had been applied which some men would advocate.
A distinguished individual connected with Yale College, remarked in a public meeting, that in the examination of a candidate for the patronage of the Society, it was almost decided that his calents would not justify his reception. He was, however, received, and he has since been particularly instrumental in reducing a chaotic pagan dialect into a regular written form, and in translating into it the whole of the Bible. The same remarks are applicable to the early history of one whose course in the eastern hemisphere has been so much like that of his Lord in giving sight to the blind. His prayers would have been early stopped by our ardent judges of character. One of his fellow laborers gave no indications in his collegiate life of the eminence which he has since reached.
By the citing of these instances it is not intended to justify any negligence, any want of discriminating attention, any failure to adhere to strict rules on the part of those who administer the funds in question. But the longer one lives, and the more he has to do with forming an opinion of human char
acter, especially in the young, the more necessity he will see for caution, for patience, for kind indulgence. It is the superficial judge only who is forward to form and pronounce a decision.
The sweeping condemnation which is often made on this point, is totally unauthorized. Were there space, it could be set aside by a minute specification of facts, beginning at any point almost on the globe, and stopping at nearly every Proiestant missionary station from Lake Superior to Canton. It is a well known fact, that those who have been aided by Education Societies have been volunteers when any deadly breach was to be entered, when any exposed bastion was to be stormed, when the drum was beating for a forlorn hope. If others have shrunk from the perilous field, these have not ; if others were ready to nestle down in the pleasant parishes of New England, these were not overforward to do so. The strongest statements on this point will be borne out, if any one will take the list of the Home and Foreign Mission Societies, and mark those who have preached Christ in the regions beyond, where he had not been named.
II. We are prepared to consider the question, - Is there now, and is there likely to be, a great deficiency in the number of ministers of the Gospel in our country?
It has been strenuously argued by an eminent and excellent individual, that the supply of preachers will keep pace with the demand ; that in the natural order of things, without any extraordinary effort, the number of those who enter upon this work will correspond to the requisition which is made for their services. Such, it is said, is the principle of Political Economy. If, from any cause, the demand for a commodity exceeds the supply, there being more who wish to obtain it than can be supplied with it, there is produced an active competition among purchasers, and an immediate increase in the number of producers. This reasoning is doubtless correct in most departments of labor, manual, political, or literary. If there should be a great demand for schoolteachers, there would be a rise in the amount of compensation offered, and a consequent increase in the number of those who would seek this employment.
But in respect to the religious interests of men, the case is widely different. The want of religious institutions exists where it is not felt. The need is urgent when the insensi