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How delightful it is to be told of the prosperity of the infant Church at Jerusalem, after a very brief interval, “ many of them which heard the word believed ; and the number of the men was about five thousand.” And, not to extend this line of thought, how remarkable is it that in the most poetical book of the New Testament, the book that lights up the imagination with the most soothing, the most cheering, the most beautiful, the most sublime visions of the land that is very far off and of the world that is to come, there is a constant recurrence to dates, to fixed periods, to measurements, to the numbers of the celestial choirs, and of the armies of heaven! There, at least, imagination and fact, poetry and statistics, go hand in hand, to guide, to instruct, to elevate the minds and the hearts of God's children, in all ages of the Church.
Our own branch of the Church of the Redeemer, in our own day, has given sufficient evidence that it appreciates the value to itself of its own statistics. Although in a confederation so extensive and so exceedingly diverse in the habits and views of the members of the confederacy, it has been, and still is, no easy matter to secure any thing like perfect accuracy, or even general uniformity, in the reports from which statistical tables are to be drawn; yet there is a gradual and very manifest approach to fullness and correctness, especially in the returns made to our General Conventions. The tables in the Journal for 1856, when compared, for example, with those for 1838, present a most gratifying contrast. Yet there has been only a beginning made as to what ought to be, and might easily be, done in this respect. When the several almanacs for 1857 were published, just before the last General Convention Journal appeared, there were found the most remarkable discrepancies as to some of the reports from the several Dioceses. Vermont, for instance, was said by the Journal, to have 1929 communicants. The E. K. S. Almanac gave 1382 ; the Church Almanac 1417; and Swords’ Almanac 2015 as the number; the highest being fifty per cent more than the lowest. Michigan had 1962 in the Journal; one almanac gave 1059, another 1220, while a third protested that it could get no reliable information. Florida varied from 386 to 515, and its clergy were variously stated at from 7 to 12. Wisconsin varied from 1172, in the General Convention Journal, to 1682 in two of the almanacs. In only ten out of the thirty-one Dioceses, did these authorities harmonize eren as to the easily ascertainable particular of communicants; and the aggregates varied by abont 5000, more than four per cent on the number in the Journal.
To one who will take the pains to compare the Journals of the Diocesan Conventions, this will be a matter of no surprise. We have before us the Journals for 1858, with the exception of Florida, (for which we must use the Journal for Dec. 1857.) Of these there are very few from which one could condense a Diocesan summary without more labor and time than any one, but the Diocesan Secretary himself, might be expected to bestow. Indeed, no one, secretary or other person, can make a full report when so many of the parochial clergy and of the wardens of vacant parishes fail in what our canons make their imperative duty, in reporting to the Diocesan Convention. One of the most systematic and satisfactory journals in this particu. lar, is perhaps that of Western New-York; and yet, in that thoroughly organized Diocese, there were 21 ont of 142 Parishes, from which no numbers were reported. Little Rhode Island had last June not a vacant parish, and yet the reported aggregate of its communicants is made imperfect and unsatisfactory, because one of its largest parishes (Trinity, Newport) is omitted. The Journal of Connecticut is beautifully “got up," and its tables are in most respects complete ; yet if one would know from the Journal how many are the parishes or the clergy in that prosperous Diocese, he must count for himself. In Pennsylvania, the aggregate of communicants is summed up with the omission of 33 parishes; several of them very large and important parishes; and this aggregate is given on page 151, less by 540, than that in the footing of the table. The Journal of Maryland is exceedingly defective. There are none of the usual tables or summaries. There appear to have been reports from only about 116 out of 167 parishes; and the only approxiination to the number of the communicants is to be made by adding up several columns in a statement made by the Missionary Committee. Virginia presents in its Journal still less that is satisfactory. So important a particular as the number of candidates for the ministry can not be ascertained. The Committee on Parochial Reports give the number of confirmations 625, while the figures as given by the Bishops, are 714. The communicants are set down at 6129, while footings of the Treasurer, in the appendix, add 810 to that number; and a comparison of a few of the Parochial Reports shows, that in most cases, the Treasurer has given only the white communicants. North-Carolina has no tables ; but the Committee on the State of the Church give a summary of the reports. South-Carolina has an abstract of the parochial reports ; but there is no summary given in this or in most of the Southern States, of the black communicants, separately from the whites, and our impression is, that in South-Carolina and Lonisiana, the former 'exceed the latter. In Mississippi, there is a wide discrepancy between the numbers in the tables and those in the report of the Committee on the State of the Church; and even in the former, which seem the most complete, only 30 parishes out of 38, report any communicants. In Texas, as might be expected where they have no Bishop, only 15 parishes out of 23, report their communicants, and the Secretary disclaims all responsibility for the discrepancies between his summary and that of the Committee. Tennessee has no tabular statement, but gives us a summary which appears to embrace returns from the whole Diocese. Michigan has a Journal of almost faultless typography, but no summary.
We have made mention of these particulars, because they will give some idea of the great difficulty in obtaining full and reliable statistics of the general Church, and because we would l'espectfully call the attention of those concerned, to what ought to be done in order to have their reports as complete as possible, for the ensuing General Convention. The Journals of Western New-York, of Ohio, of Connecticut, and of Rhode Island are perhaps, on the whole, the best models to be followed. The Secretary of the great Diocese of New York states that from 64 parishes there are no reports! and of the 205 reports received, we have only a summary instead of a full set of tables. It is a Diocese able to pay for the necessary
clerk-hire to put its statistics into a perfect shape, and we hope that its estimable and experienced Secretary will, in future years, lead the way in a work which, if done at all, should always be well done, with all possible accuracy. One thing might readily be done in every Diocese, to give in tabular form the reports so far as presented, including in the list all existing parishes; supplying, where it can be properly supplied, the unreported items from the reports of previous years.. Thus there will be no such fluctuations in the totals of the several years as now embarrass every attempt to note Diocesan growth.
Bearing in mind what has been thus far said, we ask the attention of our readers to a few out of many suggestions that naturally arise in view of the table (A) which accompanies this article, and the accuracy of which we have diligently sought to secure. The order of the Dioceses, it will be seen, is that given in the Journal of the General Convention. We have attempted a comparison of the number of the clergy, the communicants, and the candidates for orders reported in 1856, (in all the Dio. ceses in union with the Convention,) with the same particulars in the Diocesan Journals for 1858. We have divided the numbers of baptisms, adult and infant, and of confirmations reported in 1856, so as to give an average of the three years preceding, and have compared these with the reports for 1858. We have left out of the present comparison, Minnesota, Nebraska, Kansas, Arkansas, and Oregon, in the first three of which the increase has been marked.
Upon the numbers of the CLERGY, we may remark that the increase falls mournfully short of the necessities and the opportunities of the Church. From 1853 to 1856, the net increase was at the rate of 60 per annum; for the last two years this rate has barely been maintained. Yet who can doubt that were the increase three-fold or even four-fold what it now is, all who were really qualified for the work of the ministry, might at once enter upon their duties, even in our own land, while the loud calls of the heathen world demand a supply which, if our Church but realized its mission and consecrated its wealth to the Lord, would take every year more than all we