« ElőzőTovább »
that the college in her future expansion, as well as in her past history, will everinore be devoted Christo et ecclesiæ.
Change in the Structure and Composition of the Boards.
The Boards of the past Old School Church have been composed of a large number of ministers and elders, generally exceeding fifty, selected from all parts of the church, divided into four sections, each one of which was in turn elected by the Assembly every four years. The result is, that the business of each Board must be conducted by the few members residing convenient to its principal office, and, in all ordinary cases, by an exccutive committee of these. Saving a few exceptional instances, the relation of the distant members of these Boards to their actual conduct and operations has been merely nominal. The advantages of this plan have been supposed to be, that it tends to awaken interest in the cause under the care of the Board in all parts of the church, and that in case of emergency, involving serious couflict of opinions, the more distant members could be summoned, so as to represent the mind of the whole church. This is good in theory. In a more compact body, like the churches of Scotland or Ireland, or our own half a century ago, it might be so in fact. But as it is, it is notorious that members of our Boards at all remote from their place of business, have little more to do with them, or the causes under their charge, than if they were not members. The only way in which the whole church is felt in shaping the policy of the Boards is in the annual meetings of the General Assembly, to which they report, from which they receive all instructions it may be pleased to give, and by which their vacancies are annually filled. This essentially corresponds with the actual working of that oldest and most successful of our foreign missionary organizations, the American Board of Commissioners for Foreign Missions, so far as an ecclesiastical organization can correspond in its movements with a close corporation acting as agent for the Congregational churches of our country, and such others as may choose to employ it for the purpose. · The actual ordinary business of that Board is done, not under its immediate direction, but under the supervision of its prudential committee, consisting of not more than ten members, and living in Boston or its adjacent suburbs. The Board itself, with great numbers of its supporters, whose spirit it aims at once to reflect and guide, meet once a year, and once only. It then fills vacancies, chooses its prudential committee and other executive officers, and gives such directions to them, as it may judge requisite. Here, in fact, is a committing of the whole business to the supervision of a small but competent body of men, who are annually made immediately responsible to the appointing Board, and, through them, to the great constituent body of contributors for whom this Board acts.
With us this responsibility is not to an unorganized body of contribntors, but to the organized church, acting in her organic capacity, through her supreme judicatory, and thus enabled to make herself immediately and officially felt in guiding or correcting the policy of any of her Boards of evangelism. If the business of the several Boards, then, must be done under the supervision of men living at or convenient to their places of business, let them be composed of the most competent men living there, and let these be responsible, not mediately through a large and scattered Board that never meets, but immediately to the General Assembly. This is the surest way to unity, efficiency, intelligence, and fidelity of management; the most complete responsibility to the church; and the adop. tion of the best means for inspiring and organizing the benevolence of the whole body. This change in the composition of our Boards, therefore, seems to us judicious and salutary. The Assembly has ordered an investigation, with instructions to report to the next Assembly, as to the best means for proper local assistant agencies, so that efficient influence may be propagated from the centre to the circumference of the church.
Foreign Missions. In this department, as the Old School had a chartered Board with the requisite property and agencies for conducting inissions ainong the heathen, while the other branch had operated wholly through the American Board, it was only necessary that the re-united church should adopt as their own the organization already in being for this purpose. In accordance with
the principles already explained, they reduced the number of the Board to fifteen, to be divided into classes of five each, whose terms of office severally expire every third year, five of the number to constitute a quorum. For reasons which we need not state, we deviate from our usual course and give the list of the members of this Board appointed by the Assembly. We think it will commend itself to the church :
First Class, 1870-1873. — James Lenox, Esq., Robert L. Stuart, Esq., Hon. Wm. E. Dodge, Rev. Wm. Adams, D. D., Rev. J. O. Murray, D. D.
Second Class, 1870-1872.-Rev. Geo. L. Prentiss, D. D., Rev. Chas. K. Imbrie, D. D., David Oliphant, Esq., Walter S. Griffith, Esq., Rev. Robert R. Booth, D. D.
Third Class, 1870-1871.-Robert Carter, Esq., Robert Jaffray, Esq., Rev. Wm. M. Paxton, D. D., Rev. John D. Wells, D. D., Ezra L. Kingsley, Esq.
Only two points connected specially with this subject awakened much discussion. Of these, the first related to the transfer of the foreign missionary connections of the late New School branch from the American Board. In regard to this it is obvious, 1. That this portion of the church will not at once universally cease their contributions to the American Board. Old habits, tender attachments, and sacred associations will prevent the immediate completion of this transfer. Portions and members of some Old School churches continued to contribute to the American Board till a very recent period. 2. Our brethren of the other branch have in good faith concluded to co-operate with us in putting missions apon an ecclesiastical and Presbyterian platform, in supporting and working through the Presbyterian Board, and in bringing their ministry and churches to promote the cause through this channel as rapidly and generally as is practicable. 3. It is only right that as they withdraw their contributions from the American Board to the Presbyterian Board, the latter should assume the support and control of some of the inissions heretofore sustained by the contributions so withdrawn. 4. In this transition state it must inevitably happen that sone temporary anomalies will occur, which must be charitably borne with until, in due course of things, the working of the Presbyterial system will bring all parties involved into harmony with it. After hearing the report of the committee appointed by the New School Assembly to confer with the American Board, action was adopted in substantial conformity to the foregoing views, and the same comunittee was continued forther to mature negotiations now in progress, and to report to the acxt Assembly.
Evangelizing the Indians, Policy of the Government, Political
Deliverances by the Assembly. One of the resolutions recommended to the Assembly for adoption, by its standing committee on the subject, was the following :
"That the Assembly views with deep concern the unevangelized condition of the aboriginal population of our land, and deprecates the increasing tendency among many of our citizens to treat them as a race to be exterminated, rather than as the proper objects of Christian effort, to be thereby civilized and gathered into the fold of Christ; and the Assembly liereby authorizes the Board of Missions to put forth its utmost efforts to accomplish this humane and benignant purpose."
This commanded the general if not unanimons acquiescence of the Assembly, and was finally carried. Dr. Howard Crosby offered the following amendment to it, which was rejected :
“That we heartily indorse the peaceful and Christian policy of the President of the United States, the Secretary of the Interior, and the other officers of the government toward the Indian tribes within our borders, and trust that the humane and thoughtful of the land will join us in sustaining the hands of our President and government in this important action."
Dr. Crosby, Hon. Wm. E. Dodge, and others supported this on the ground that the government, especially those most responsible for its present humane policy, are entitled to the support and co-operation of the Christian people of the country. Dr. Beatty, Dr. Musgrave, and others, while avowing themselves republicans who voted for General Grant, and agreeing with every word of the amendment, were nevertheless strenuonsly opposed to its adoption by the Assembly. They regarded it as a beginning and precedent for political deliverances by the united church, which might work great mischief in the future. Some proposed a compromise, by leaving out the words “President,” “Secretary of the Interior, etc., and commending “ the peaceful policy of the
” the government," or like softened phrase. Dr. Crosby, how.
erer, said this would be “taking the blade out of the knife.” The following speech of Dr. Musgrave made a clear and simple issue of the whole matter.
"I have listened to this amendment with great concern. You all know what bitter fruit resulted from what were called the political deliverances of the General Assembly in past times. I hope, sir, that we shall not renew this thing, and make any deliverance wliatever oa political subjects. It is not our province. We establish a mischievous precedent; we excite the ill-will and the jealousy of a large portion of the community. And no matter how we deliver ourselves on any political subject, we shall be met by opposition.
“Now, sir, the resolution that was proposed by the committee, it seems to me, covers the whole ground. It is well, in my judgment, that this Assembly should take no action with reference to General Grant, and his Secretary, or any particu. lar line of policy which any political party may pursue. Now I may speak with freedom on this subject, because I am what politicians call a Republican. But, sir, I don't want my church to indorse Republicanism. I voted for General Grant heartily, but I don't want this church to say any thing in favor of General Grant's policy. Let us have done with politics. We cannot handle it without damage to the cross of Christ. And what good will come of it? We can act in our capacity as citizens.
“We can have a convention whenever we like or a public meeting, and as citizens express our approbation or disapprobation of any political measure. But let the church of the Lord Jesus Christ stand aloof from all party politics. As I should deprecate any deliverance in the Assembly on the subject of politics, I shall vote heartily against this amendment, and for that resolution of the committee which tends to advance the interests of the church we have at leart."
Dr. Crosby's amendment was accordingly lost by a large majority. A subsequent motion to strike out the clause against "extermination of the Indians," as being also political was advocated on the gronnd of consistency. It, however, utterly failed. Dr. McCosh said :
“I think the language in the report has been well weighed. It covers every point. I certainly wish to do away with the impression that those who may have voted for laying the amendments on the table, do by that mean to indicate that they approve in any manner of the exterminating policy.
I think the clause that is put in this motion by your committee fills every object you have in view.
" It simply recognizes the need of evangelizing measures, and I confess I could not vote for that motion unless it contained all it does contain. It sets itself up against that feeling which is abroad in the scientific world, and which is propagated by a large portion of the public press, that the inferior races ought to be exterminated, and give way to the superior. That is not the law save as regards animals; not the law wi:h regard to man, as established by our Divine Redeemer. His law is that weakness should conquer strength; that the suffering Redeemer should rise up to protect the weaker against the strong. It is the