FOURTH ANNUAL REPORT
BOARD OF MANAGERS
New-York 6th December, 1820:
This being the fourth Anniversary of the New-York Protestant Episcopal Missionary Society, pursuant to public notice, the Society met in St. Paul's Chapel.
In the absence of the Right Rev. Bishop Hobart (the President), the Rev. Thomas Lyell, Rector of Christ Church, was called to the chair, and the Rev. George Upfold, of St. Luke's Church, was appointed Secretary.
The minutes of the third Anniversary Meeting were then read and approved.
The Annual Report of the Board of Managers was then read by Mr. Cornelius R. Duffie.
On motion of the Rev. Benjamin T. Onderdonk, of Trinity Church, it was resolved, That the Report just read be accepted.
On motion of the Rev. Mr. M'Vickar, Professor of Rhetoric and Belle Lettres in Columbia College, it was resolved, That the thanks of the Society be presented to the Board of Managers for their attention to the duties of their office during the past year.
On motion of the Rev. Mr. Creighton, Rector of St. Mark's Church, it was resolved, That this Society duly appreciate the exertions of the Rector and Congregation of Zion Church, in forming a fourth Auxiliary Missionary Society, and recommend their example to the congregations of the Church in general.
On motion of the Rev. Mr. Wainwright, of Trinity Church, it was resolved, That the Report, this evening read, and the proceedings of this meeting, be published, under the order of the Board of Managers.
The Society then proceeded to the election of officers for the ensuing year; Mr. James Cummings and Mr. Cornelius S. Bartow were appointed inspectors. Upon counting the ballots, the following gentlemen were declared to be duly elected:
Right Rev. Bishop HOBART, President ex officio.
HENRY M'FARLAN, 1st Vice-President.
THOMAS N. STANFORD, 2d Vice-President
JOHN SMYTH ROGERS, 3d Vice-President.
D. A. CUSHMAN, Treasurer.
FLOYD SMITH, Corresponding Secretary.
WILLIAM B. SMITH, Recording Secretary
DAVID R. LAMBERT, MATTHEW CLARKSON, jun., HENRY BARCLAY, RICHARD WHILEY, WILLIAM ONDERDONK, jun., J. R. TOWNSEND, SAMUEL W. MOORE, M.D., WILLIAM BAKEWELL, LEWIS LOUTREL, HENRY A. TEN BROOK, GABRIEL WISNER, ROBERT THOMAS.
CORNELIUS R. DUFFIE,
(Signed) GEORGE UPFOLD, Secretary pro tem.
A Payment of not less than two dollars per annum, constitutes a subscriber; and donations and subscriptions will be thankfully received at No. 183 Broadway.
IN presenting the Fourth Report of this Society, we cannot refrain from expressing our gratitude for its timely formation, and for the important advantages which have already resulted from its establishment. Animated by our past success, even under circumstances which might well have discouraged any efforts, we are authorized to look forward with new confidence, while we recognize that Superintending Protection which so evidently demands the homage of our thankfulness.
Shortly after the last annual meeting, a sermon was preached at Grace church, in behalf of this society, by the Rev. Mr. Montgomery; and in reverting to it we find great satisfaction, not merely on account of the valuable addition then made to the funds of the institution, but more particularly because the importance of a missionary spirit was then set forth with such an union of piety, of eloquence, and of zeal, as imparted new animation to its friends, and was calculated to enrol all who were before indifferent among its well-wishers and supporters. The sum of three hundred and sixty dollars and ninety cents, then collected, forms nearly the one half of all that we have been able, during the past year, to appropriate to the general missionary [5/6] fund of the Diocess, and is itself an evidence of the talents and the energy with which the cause was advocated.
Of the three societies which we numbered as auxiliary to this at the last report, we have received remittances from two only; that established at Albany haying not yet made its returns. The Goshen Female Auxiliary Missionary Society have remitted twelve dollars, and the Episcopal Missionary Society of Geneva thirty dollars. It would have been very grateful to our wishes, if we could have announced a large increase in the number of these auxiliary institutions, as their formation is one of the most prominent features of our plan, and one of the utmost promise to our usefulness. One auxiliary only has been added during the last year; but that is one of which we may well be proud, and from which we anticipate important aid. The Episcopal Missionary Society of Zion Church, in this city (our fourth auxiliary), in August last placed in our treasury the very generous sum of one hundred and eighty dollars, raised from the spirited subscriptions of that congregation alone.
It is impossible to record the co-operation of these societies without feeling that we are indeed brethren—brethren in affection and in purpose, as well as in name. Such a true and active charity extends and perpetuates itself by the flame which it kindles; and provokes others to good works by the light which its own holds out. The instances which we now most cheerfully record impress themselves in gratitude upon our hearts. Would that the same genuine spirit of Christianity might pervade every parish in our Diocess; and that [6/7] the universal approbation they are calculated to excite, might evince itself, not in word only, but also in deed! Would that the eloquence of these examples, more powerful than any arguments which we can address, might be effectual in bringing forward such friends to our cause, and such allies to our institution, as our renewed appeals have failed to excite!—They speak to the public spirited and the pious of every congregation, and call upon them, as they admire so pure an exercise of benevolence, or appreciate its tendency, to "go and do likewise." Though their contributions may be small, yet will they refresh and animate us by the spirit from which they proceed.—We cannot forbear again to call the attention of Episcopalians to our former circulars on this subject; and again to appeal to those numerous congregations who have not yet united with us in this earnest object of our wishes: nor will we despair of their aid, while we have any confidence in their love to God, or their regard for the eternal welfare of men.
The amount received into the treasury since the last anniversary is nine hundred and forty-seven dollars and seventy-three cents. "The Committee for Propagating the Gospel" have been authorized to draw for eight hundred and fifty dollars, without which assistance the Missionaries now employed could not have been paid even their scanty salaries. This sum, added to those previously paid over, makes the whole amount contributed by this society, since its establishment, three thousand one hundred and fifty dollars. The balance in the treasury, after paying the contingent expenses of the year, is twenty-four dollars and forty-one cents.
 We have to regret a considerable diminution in our resources, arising from removals and other causes. The names of many who have heretofore been our patrons, have also been withdrawn; not, we are sure, from disaffection to a cause so truly in the spirit of the Gospel, but in some instances from the inability which the times have produced, and in others from an unwillingness to be troubled with matters comparatively small and unimportant. While we do justice to the motives of the former of these classes, we would urge upon the latter the reflection, which cannot be too often inculcated, that the acknowledged and indispensable benefit of the fund we have raised, is the result of many small, and, of themselves, inconsiderable contributions, scarcely if at all felt by most of those from whom they are derived, but constituting in the aggregate a rich stream of extended blessing.
It ought also to be recollected by all who aid in charities like this, that, from the smallness of the subscription a large part is often absorbed in the collection, which might be applied to the object in view, if paid, directly to the treasurer; and also that the expense of collection is increased by the difficulties which are often thrown in its way. The offering which we make is one of principle, of conscience, and of free will,—not of necessity. That contribution which is given with reluctance, extends a dampening influence, perhaps more than equivalent to the benefit of the gift. On the contrary, a small gift, tendered with a willing and a ready heart, by the spirit which it excites and communicates, outweighs, in its actual benefit as well as in its real merit, all the ponderous offerings of an ungracious [8/9] hand. He that hath much, and he that hath little, should both give gladly if they are in earnest in promoting the common interest.
In this simple statement we have traced the course of that stream which your bounty has supplied; and in frankness of speech have suggested the means of still further promoting its object. With all who have borne a part in this accumulation, we feel a common bond of Christian attachment: nor will we exclude from this expression of regard, those who, in the absence of any other offering, have given to our cause the sincere tribute of their good wishes, their commendation, and their prayers.
We hail the spirit which originates, the beneficence which supports, and the blessing which speeds institutions for spreading the Gospel; for in them we find the best hope of man's moral improvement, and the best promise of the amelioration of his condition. Let the mere politician aim at these effects by the efforts of worldly wisdom and of legal enactment;—let the man of cultivated reason or refined feeling employ the most enlightened method to soften and bend the human character, and to overcome its perversities; yet will it ever be found that no means are so effectual, even for the accomplishment of these objects, as that of making men Christians in affection and in principle. Modify and regulate as they may the outward action by the influence of law, or the restraints of custom, or the power of argument, or the winning eloquence of fiction and of sentiment, yet if the dispositions and passions of the individual are not brought into conformity to the pure model of the Gospel, they must ever be a [9/10] source of misery to himself as well as of annoyance to others.
Christianity sustains most fully its divine character and origin by its fitness to promote the best interests of men. If, therefore, as friends to individual happiness or social order, we wish to make men better in their own condition, and better disposed towards their neighbour—to soften what is rugged and overbearing—to keep down what is vain, and proud, and aspiring—to disarm what is injurious—to circumscribe the power of whatever is unfriendly, or cruel, or malicious—and to temper all into good will and peace, we will diffuse the spirit of pure religion, and the commanding influence of Christian obligation.
To us who have still higher objects in view than those which merely relate to this passing world;—to us, who aim at the immortal happiness of our fellow men, it is at once reason for exultation and for exertion, that this great object includes in it so many of lesser endeavour; and that while we impart to men the knowledge of the one thing needful for their spiritual welfare, the blessings of outward happiness and temporal good are added to our triumph, and follow in the train of our victory.
In order to make known among all nations his saving health, God, the Fountain of all wisdom, has been pleased to require the agency of men: and if an effect which to human reason seems almost miraculous, has attended the preaching of the Gospel, causing its doctrines to be received, and its principles to predominate, and its fruits to abound, we should be encouraged to persevere in our present exertions by such clear [10/11] indications of the influence of his Spirit, who promised to be with his ministers to the end of the world.
In associating to subserve the unspeakably benevolent scheme of Almighty Goodness, we have been careful not to intrude into affairs beyond our proper sphere, nor officiously to endanger the order and unity of our church. The constitution of our society, therefore, limits its views to the humble but useful part of furnishing the means of supporting Missionaries to that authority to whom has wisely been committed their appointment and direction.
Among those who are engaged in promoting a charity so pure, so efficient, so comprehensive, there should be no room to reprove their indifference, nor any need to excite their zeal. It is no visionary scheme of doubtful issue to which our efforts are directed. Almighty Wisdom has devised the plan, and has constantly followed it with success. Neither is it an impracticable extent of benevolence to which our efforts are drawn out: Almighty Providence has placed within our community the subjects of our regard, as the means of testing our fidelity, our Christian wakefulness, our trust in God's promises. It is the spiritually destitute of our own state to whom we desire to extend relief. It is the dispersed flock of our own church and of our own diocess, who look up to their spiritual Shepherd for that aid which the bounty of their more favoured brethren can alone enable him to supply.
What could be effected, by diminishing the salaries of Missionaries that their number might be kept up, has already been done, to an extent which is painful to a liberal mind. Nor have the limited resources of those [11/12] who are to be benefitted, been scantily applied. Even yet there is a great deficiency, and those who are employed are spending their labours under privations which ought not to be felt. For, surely, if ever the labourer be worthy of his hire, he who banishes himself from the sweets of home and friends, who quits the ease and retirement of study, and gives himself up to all the inconveniences of an itinerant and unsettled life, in the cause of humanity, of society, and of God;—he who seeks the wilderness, to make it rejoice with the good news of salvation—who visits the ignorant, to enlighten them—the erring, to reform them—the penitent, to confirm—and the broken-hearted, to cheer them, even in the dreariness of their distant solitudes;—such a labourer, in such a loneliness, is indeed worthy of no stinted boon. But with those that are so occupied there is no reward save that of their own bosom. Scantily and miserably provided, they give up all for Christ; and are voluntarily exposed to the privations and extremities of a primitive self-devotion, rather than desert those who are perishing in their spiritual need.
Our united exertions have done something to alleviate all this; but it is important that more should be done. We therefore earnestly address ourselves to all whose hearts are open to the influence of Christian gratitude or Christian love; all who feel an interest in extending the Christian Church; beseeching them to compare their own happy circumstances and privileges with the destitution of their distant brethren, and the privations of those who minister to them.
Could you accompany in his duties one of these pious Missionaries, we need not place before you any [12/13] more solemn appeal. The kind feelings of your own nature, the enlightened dictates of your own minds, the dilating charity of your own bosoms, would most effectually plead our cause. It would be sufficient that the humble cabin was the scene of every temporal destitution—that neither science beamed, nor kindly intercourse soothed, nor cheerful relaxation enlivened or refined. You would yourselves be anxious to dispel the ignorance of religion which is witnessed there; you would yourselves be anxious to supply the desire for knowledge which is there manifested; you would yourselves be solicitous to guide the aspirations of those hearts which are lifted up to God with little more than the light of nature to direct them.
There, in many a distant and retired abode, where no cheerful spire points the thoughts from earth to heaven, and where no joyous peal announces the day of rest and of peace, the indolent and careless profaner of its sacred hours is destined to be saved by you from the extremity of irreligion and of crime: there the earnest inquirer after the truths and consolations of the Gospel appeals to you to dispense to him the bread of life: there the Episcopalian, far distant from his native altars, asks at your hands the services of the church he reveres; and his appeal is addressed to a responsive feeling in your own bosom, which it is impossible for you to disclaim.
But there is one class of those who come within the scope of our bounty whose case we had well nigh forgotten. Nor would it be strange if they were forgotten, who in silence and in banishment weep over their sufferings and their wrongs. The Indian, [13/14] whose birthright was co-extensive with this vast continent, and its noble game the reward of his native enterprize and hardihood, now driven from his original domain, is himself the prey of an invader. For as he has left behind him the hunting-grounds of his ancestors, there is scarcely a path through his forests that the white man has not traversed—there is scarce a retreat in his wilderness to which avarice has not followed him. In too many instances only the curses of civilization have attended this pursuit of selfish and private ends. The Indian has too often been contaminated, that he might be subdued; while the inheritance of his fathers has been bartered for trifles without value, or for a poison destructive of his habits and fatal to his existence. To the survivors of a brave and ancient race fast gliding away, they who now occupy their soil have the two-fold obligation to compensate for the original disadvantages of their lot, and to make reparation for the injuries they have endured.
We rejoice that the charity to which we contribute is extended to them, and that within our own diocess the praise of the Most High is heard in a Christian temple, from voices which have heretofore resounded only the whoop of war and the yell of extermination—that the liturgy of our church, translated into an Indian tongue, is led and responded by Indians duly instructed and religiously disposed—that the savage bosom has been taught to glow with the tenderness of Christian feeling —that the sons of Indian chieftains, no longer foremost in the march of hostility and blood, now employ their talents and their influence in promoting the religion of peace—that the warrior who would not turn on his heel [14/15] to save his life, kneeling before the ambassador of Jesus Christ, has confirmed the vows of his religious obedience, and they who have been divested of their temporal inheritance, have by faith been directed to that better country, where they shall no more be strangers and pilgrims.
The great field of our present exertions will one day form the centre of a countless population. But in the condition of men thus rapidly penetrating the wilderness of primitive nature, leaving behind them the regular ministrations and services of religion, and the established restraints which give order to society; removed from public observation, and the influence of public opinion on the conduct; in such a condition, there must exist a strong tendency to immorality and irreligion. Policy and humanity alike require that this tendency should be steadily counteracted. The hardy frontier settlers, if long abandoned to its operation, will be irrecoverably confirmed in evil habits, which, growing with their growth, will be extended with their progress. This is the time when we ought to pour upon them the light of Christian truth: this is the time to attach them to the principles and institutions of the Gospel. Let the good seed now be scattered, and they who bear it forth will doubtless return again rejoicing, rich in the fruits of their success. As soon as the forest is subdued, its choicest cedars shall rise again in temples to the Lord. The voice of thanksgiving shall ascend from our farthest borders; and successive generations, urged by the spirit of adventure, or borne forward on the tide of population, shall convey the [15/16] blessings of religion to the distant ocean and its remotest isles.
Though it is not within the compass of our means to produce results so glorious and so extensive, yet their possibility is an unanswerable motive to exertion, and should induce us to bear a willing and a faithful part.
And when that night of oblivion, which is rapidly advancing upon us and our pursuits, shall have shadowed us in the darkness of its mantle;—when the busy hum of other men shall be heard in the scenes which we now occupy; and the seasons of other years shall spread their summer verdure and their winter desolation over our lowly resting place,—the impulse which our feeble efforts have communicated in the great cause of religion, will form the best memorial to redeem from forgetfulness lives too exclusively devoted to the world and its fleeting cares; and at the last day may realize for us the truth of that gracious promise, that he who gives a cup of cold water in the name of Christ, shall not lose his reward.
By the Committee.
CORNELIUS R. DUFFIE, Chairman.