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charges, by building a house for the minister's accommodation in perpetuity, or by mortifying a sum of money which would produce a certain income every year, or by paying off at once the paltry debt under which so many of our churches labour and are in heaviness. Such benefactions, though proceeding from private individuals, would have all the virtue of endowment, and whilst free from Erastian terms, might yet be accompanied with such restrictions as would secure an Evangelical ministry for our churches in all succeeding generations.—Yours, &c, One Of The Ministers Of The PresByterian Synod In England.
In this letter the testimony is of use as showing that the supplementing system has not as yet had the desired effect of stimulating local exertion. It confirms, too, our fear, that the position of some of our ministers is such as they ought not to be suffered to remain in. But the practical suggestions in the end of the letter are altogether inadequate to meet the objects at which we are aiming. We hope that ideas so crude are not generally prevalent throughout the Church. To have a Central Fund, and to distribute out of it 100/. per annum to each minister, would no doubt serve the object of relieving from present need those whose incomes are insufficient. But how would local exertion be affected by this? What security have we that indolent and illiberal congregations would not trust to the support of others, without contributing their due proportion to the common fund? If it is found, according to our correspondent's own showing, that certain congregations have not made an effort to raise even the small sum required to meet the generous offer of the Supplemental Fund, how can we expect such congregations to come generously forward, when the salary of their minister would be secured without any local exertion on their part? If they are backward now, when their own slight exertions would be liberally met by the Home Mission Committee, are they not likely to be more backward then, when that help would be given without their being required to make sacrifices to entitle them to it?
The suggestions as to seat-rents and endowments are so far good, but we need not point out how much caution would be necessary in carrying them out. In regard to the Free Church of Scotland, while there is much to admire in the Sustentation Fund, there are defects
in the system which forbid our adopting it as a model, without great modifications. These defects are referred to in the next letter, which is from one well entitled to be heard on this subject, as having pro
Eosed the Supplemental Fund, and aving given many substantial proofs of his deep interest in the welfare of our Church.
To the Editor of the " Meuenger."
Deak Sir, — Observing the question agitated in the columns of the "Messenger" as to the propriety of establishing a Sustentation Fund similar to that of the Free Church rather than the Supplemental Fund now in existence; having no particular bias in favour of the one principle more than the other, and considering that whichever can be demonstrated to be most likely to promote the interests of the Church, should be carried out, permit me to offer one or two observations upon the subject.
The Church, by its uuanimous decision, affirmed the desirableness, for various reasons, then submitted for its consideration, of making the experiment of a Supplemental Fund. Such being the case, it is important that a fair trial of this principle should be made before another is adopted. It does not appear to me that the Supplemental Fund has yet been fairly tested, nor will this be the case until the machinery in connexion with it is brought into operation, and each congregation has a vigorous staff of officebearers, and an Association formed, not a mere nominal Association, but one possessing life and vitality and fruit . This, in my opinion, can only be accomplished by .having a paid agent to superintend the schemes of the Church, and visit congregations, and point out to office-bearers how the resources of a congregation may be practically drawn out and developed. The Sustentation Fund of the Free Church is constantly referred to as a model, and while there is much good connected with that principle, there are also great evils that require constant watching. The sagacious and acute mind of Chalmers soon discovered the great tendency in weak congregations to trust to those that were strong, and not to put forth their own energies to their utmost extent. To remedy this, soon after the Sustentation Fund was established, it was superadded that all new congregations should only get fifty per cent. added to the amount of stipend raised for the minister, until the congregation was a self-supporting one,—As, for instance, if 401. is raised, then 20/. is added, making the stipend only 601.; if 501. is raised, then 25/. is added, making the stipend 751.; if 60/. is raised, then 30/. is added, making the stipend 90/. ; and so on in proportion. I should presume that nearly one-third of the congregations of the Free Church are not receiving the full Supplemental grant The point appears to have been entirely overlooked by those who have been advocating in the columns of the " Messenger" a change of principle, it is therefore desirable that the whole truth should be brought under the consideration of your readers.—Yours, &c., Tkuth.
Concerning the supplementing scheme, even if the Synod of 1848 affirm the principle, and give the plan a longer trial, there are so many complaints made of its working that it will be necessary to put the administration of the fund on a different footing. The care and liberality of the office-bearers of the Home Mission Committee cannot meet the local difficulties attending the present system. The chief objection, however, in our opinion, is the want of interest felt in it throughout the Church.* By mere grants from the Home Mission Fund you never can produce nor promote that feeling of ecclesiastical unity and of mutual sympathy which ought to pervade all our congregations. Let any one read such passages of Scripture as 2 Cor. viii. 13, 14, and Eph. iv. 16, and our meaning will be understood. In things temporal as well as spiritual, the Church will make increase unto the edifying of itself in love, when the whole body is fitly joined together, and compacted by that which every joint supplieth, according to the effectual working in the measure of every part.
The next letter is from a layman, for whose judgment we have much respect, and his suggestions are for the consideration of the Church. His remarks on the necessity of all our congregations being well organized under an efficient staff of office-bearers are applicable, whatever may be the system adopted for the support and extension of our Presbyterian Church.
* With respect to the decision of the Synod of 1846 having been unanimous, we must observe that although no dissent appeared, and no opposition was made to a trial being given of the plan then proposed, several brethren expressed their doubts as to its success, and especially Mr. Fisher, of Southward who has paid much attention to the subject, strongly stated his opinion as to the inadequacy of that measure.
To the Editor of the " Messenger.'*
My Dear Sih,—Feeling that the subject of a Central Sustentation Fund is one of paramount importance, I take leave to address you respecting it. It is necessary that the attention of the whole of our
fieople should be aroused to it. I have ittle doubt but where the matter has been considered three points will be readily conceded: first, the correctness of such a scheme in principle; second, its claims upon us as a duty; and, thirdly, its necessity, not only to our progress, but to our very existence. Still, for the instruction of our people, these points ought to be enlarged upon and enforced at every fitting opportunity.
But the scheme has difficulties of a practical nature; some of them arising out of the circumstances in which we are at present placed, and others which would exist even were these circumstances removed. Again, some of these difficulties arise in connexion with providing the means, and others in connexion with the administration of the funds. Difficulties may be apprehended as to the amount of funds, but I believe none will be experienced if we can lay before the Church a well-matured scheme for their collection and administration. Let our people be satisfied that the scheme is well calculated to consolidate the interests and extend the usefulness of the Church, and I believe that the whole required amount will be easily raised. If you could only add to this an instalment of successful administration by way of first-fruits or earnest, your coffers will be overflowing. I should recommend that the scheme to be adopted be arranged in the first instance without reference to such difficulties as may be considered temporary, or as arise out of the circumstances in which we are now placed; I mean such circumstances as some of our congregations having guaranteed stipends to their ministers, or being otherwise engaged so that they could not at first be parties to the common fund. Let the scheme be completed as if such difficulties did not exist, and then try to make a temporary accommodation with these parties until the difficulties wear away. Another class, however, of present difficulties require to be immediately removed. I cannot see how it is possible to allow any ministers to be participators in the common fund whose congregations are not self-sustaining, and yet have not in connexion with them vigorous associations steadily advancing up to the self-sustaining point. These associations, again, must be kept in constant communication with the Presbyteries of the Church; and as that communication must be through the medium of office-bearers, I see no alterDative but to suggest that no minister can be a participator in the common fund unless he has in connexion with his congregation a Session and Deacons' Court in vigorous operation, as well as an association. I know this position will be viewed as raising an insuperable barrier to the present adoption of a Cential Sustentation Scheme, but that very fact serves to show me the imperative necessity of enacting the condition. I cannot very well see what is to be done with many of our present congregations, but I am quite clear in this, that, properly speaking, a Presbyterian congregation cannot exist without a fully organized Session and Deacons' Court; and that the Synod ought, ere long, to enact that no new congregation be admitted in full status until it is in a condition to organize such courts; and that, until it is in such condition, it must be only considered as a missionary station. Much may be done by the Synod in enjoining all congregations to appoint the necessary staff of office-bearers; and, if this object be vigorously pursued during the current year, I don't know but much even of this difficulty might be removed. We talk largely of the capabilities of our system, but have great cause to mourn deficiencies in result;—these deficiencies, I am persuaded, are not attributable to defects in our Presbyterian polity, but in the extent to which our principles are carried into practice. In respect to Presbyterianism in England, the results have been astonishingly large, compared to the means used. I am convinced that we have quite as many vigorous associations as we have completely organized congregations, and that those congregations which are not self-sustaining cannot be much altered until they are fully organized. The coldness and indifference that allows them to remain disorganized is the chief cause of all their difficulties.
As to the ordinary and permanent difficulties of the case, it must be clear that these are not trifling when we consider that they are already encompassing the Free Church to such an extent that she is compelled to resort to energetic temporary expedients to meet her necessities; whilst, after the experience she has had, a whole year has not been sufficient for a Select Committee of her ablest practical men to arrange and submit a more perfect system ; and I doubt whether even a second year will be sufficient for that purpose.
I suggest that some of our friends subscribe, and get up a fund for prizes to be given to the proposers of the three best schemes that shall be selected by adjudicators to be appointed for that purpose. I do not mean exactly essays, but practical Schemes, sort of codes of rules and
regulations, showing how the funds are to be raised and administered—what are to be the pre-requisites of churches whose pastors participate in the fund, &c. Still each Scheme submitted would have to be accompanied by a sort of essay, giving the grounds or reasons for its various provisions. Supposing the first prize to be 60/., the second 401., and the third 25/., I apprehend that a total of 150/. subscribed would meet these and all contingent expenses. Let the papers be given in in October, 1848, and let the adjudicators decide upon them, and arrange the matter, so that an abstract of the three best could accompany the "Messenger" in February, 1849; thus the subject would be fairly before the Church in time for the Synod in the following April. I should hope that. some plan of this sort would arouse the attention of all acquainted with the subject, and would lend others to study it; and even if a perfect Scheme were not developed, and although we might not by this plan meet with the hidden treasure en masse, it would lead to a digging of the soil, that would arouse and excite its latent energies, and be afterwards productive in rich increase, by at all events preparing the members of Synod for a full discussion and practical measure in April, 1849.
The 150/. might be raised in thirty contributions of bL each, or fifty of 31. each, and papers describing the conditions and requirements for the prizes would be prepared under the direction of a Committee of the subscribers.—Yours, &c.,
An English Presbyterian.
To the proposal of Prize Essays there can be no objection, if thought worth the time and money thus expended. But we scarcely deem it necessary to have recourse to this plan of obtaining information. There are materials enough in the usages of other Churches, and in the records of ecclesiastical history, for the judgment of our practical men to work upon. The leading principles of the subject are plainly set down in the Word of God.
One remark only we make before concluding. We regret to observe that the principle of a Supplemental Fund (as in our Church) and that of a Sustentation Fund (as in the Free Church of Scotland) are spoken of as opposed to one another, and comparisons are made between them. Our idea is, that they ought to be united; that there should be a central fund to which the whole Church should contribute, but that the distribution ought to be on the supplementing principle. We reserve till next number our views as to the best means of forming the Central Fund, and the principles on which the administration ought to be based.
SEAT-RENTS AND SUPPORT OE WORSHIP.
In some parts of the country, and especially in the north, it is common, we are told, for five or six members of a family to sit in a church, three or more being even communicants, while only one or two sittings are paid for. This is not amongst the poor, but amongst farmers and others in very good circumstances of life. We are sure that such a neglect arises chiefly from want of thought, and from old use and wont. For every reasonable and honourable man must know, that in a church not endowed by the State or otherwise, the support of ordinances must depend on voluntary assessment of those worshipping together. There is no minister but would gladly, if possible, dispense with pew-rents; but while the Sabbath services are to be maintained, all who join in them ought in some share to contribute to their support. The real cause of such negligence is the want of generous and Christian feeling, and the low standard that there is among our people of what constitutes a sufficiency for ministerial comfort and respectability. A little more generosity of feeling, and a little more love for the cause of Christ, would remedy the present state of things. When people wish to retrench their expenses, they ought to begin somewhere else than by withdrawing their support from the public service of the sanctuary. If they wish to save a little, they might find other ways of doing so than by withholding due maintenance from those who labour and study and watch for the good of their souls. There is a blessing promised somewhere to those who honour the Lord with their substance; and there is a woe pronounced against those who neglect the support of the house of God, in order to have more to spare for secular uses. The apostle Paul had no delicacy in reminding professing Christians of the duty of liberality; and we recommend our readers to ponder such passages as the following:—1 Corinthians ix. 7—14: Galatians vi. 6; 2 Cor. viii. 1—9.
TO THOSE WHO COME LATE
To make a practice of coming late to Church is a mark of great disrespect to God, an annoyance to fellow-worshippers, and an act of unkindness to the minister, who is disturbed and grieved by it. We are aware that some cannot get there earlier; such as servants in ungodly or ill-regulated families; and such as have to attend to household duties where others are dependent on their help. There are also unforeseen causes of delay that may now and then happen to the most regular worshipper. But we address this hint to those who have their time at their own disposal, and to those who make a habit of entering the house of God after the service has commenced.
We take the liberty also of suggesting to our brethren in the ministry that their own want of punctuality as to commencing at the appointed hour, may be partly the cause of the evil. The people soon count upon this irregularity, and say, "Oh, we shall be there before the service begins; there's no use sitting waiting in the church."
We need scarcely add, that if any, through necessity, be hindered from being present at the beginning, they ought to take their places unfussily and quietly, and with as little disturbance to others as possible. Neither ought they to betake themselves to their private devotions on entering late, but reverently compose themselves to join with the assembly in that ordinance of God which is then in hand.
While on this subject, we may also throw out a similar hint concerning the attendance of ministers and elders at Presbyteries and other Church courts. It is very unseemly that members, and especially ministers, should come in after the devotional exercises of the court are over. If a minister were to be frequently late or absent at church, his people would soon shew their disapprobation of such neglect. Self-interest joins with sense of duty in preventing this irregularity at Sabbath services. But in our Presbyterian polity it is as much the duty of the ministers to attend to ruling and overseeing as to teaching and exhorting; and therefore, conscience and right principle ought to secure punctual and regular attendance - at Church courts and other ecclesiastical meetings, as much as at congregational worship.
COMING LATE TO CHURCH.
BY THE REV. JOSEPH IRONS, CAMBERWELL.
Suppose an earthly prince should condescend
Shall such attention to a worm be given,
My brethren, this would never be the case,
If you complain you have so far to come.
A little less indulgence in the bed,
I grant, lest I should seem to be severe,
But such will not (unless I greatly err)
ARRIVAL OF MR. BURNS IN CHINA. "we have great pleasure in announcing that, through the good providence of God, our beloved missionary, Mr. Burns, has safely arrived in China. The following letter has just been received by the Rev. James Hamilton, the Convener of the Foreign Mission Committee:—
Hong Kong, Nov. 26th, 1847. Dear Friend,—In the great mercy of God I am at length permitted to address you from this far distant shore, which we reached in safety ten days ago, after a passage of fully five months. We had a good deal of stormy weather after reaching the Cape, and at intervals were detained by calms; and, in the China Sea, a few days before our arrival here, we were in not a little jeopardy from a tyfoon or hurricane, which raged for some hours with amazing fury, and was driving us very fast upon the land, which, when the wind changed its direc-> tion (as it most mercifully did about the middle of the storm), was not far distant. It pleased God, in His abundant mercy, to spare us, and to bring us in
Eeace to this our wished-for haven. I ad many opportunities on board the vessel of labouring for the good of the crew and passengers; and, since my arrival here, I have been encouraged by
finding some doors providentially opened for doing what I can in the meantime, especially among our own countrymen. I preached once last Lord's-day in the chapel connected with the London Society's Mission, and have been asked to continue this service regularly while I continue here—a good many of our countrymen, I understand, were present. During the voyage I made some progress in acquaintance with Chinese, especially as a written language; and I am now endeavouring to master the common speech of the people here, who generally use the Canton dialect. An acquaintance with the language in this form of it is of the first importance, as opening up one's way, not only to the people of Canton city, but to the whole of the lower section of this vast empire. I live close to the London Society's Mission-house, and can have daily opportunities of uniting in worship, conducted by native Christians; and this, with other occasions of intercourse with the people, is a great assistance which the first missionaries did not enjoy. The language you well know is very peculiar; and, I must add, with many who have gone before me, it is difficult. The written language does not teach what is spoken, and even when you know the spoken words you cannot, without knowing the local pronunciation, and still harder without attaining certain peculiar intonations, be sure of speaking so as to be understood. The Chinese language fills but very poorly the mouth of those who are accustomed to the more lengthened and weighty phraseology of our western tongues. It is but little I have seen of China's population; but even here, on land and sea, their numbers, within the narrowed compass, are astonishingly great. I have, as yet, had no intercourse with them generally, but from the specimens which we meet with, in house-servants and tradesmen, &c., they seem an intelligent and interesting people. The boy that waits on myself and another come to me occasionally to learn a little English. They are very apt scholars, except where met by sounds that are foreign to their own language, and they repay me in Chinese for all that I can give them in this way.
I have not yet seen much of the moral and spiritual state of our countrymen here. In our part of the town last Sabbath was pretty quiet. The only interruption to this which met my ears