PUDNEY & RUSSELL, PRINTERS,
NO. 79 JOHN-STREET.
At the annual meeting of the Board of Missions, in October last, the undersigned were appointed a committee "to prepare and publish an address to the Church, on the supply of the necessary means for carrying on the work of Missions." The special reason for the appointment, was found in the exhibition made at that meeting, by the annual reports of the Foreign and Domestic Committees of the Board, of their receipts during the previous year.
As the basis of the address, to which we now affectionately and respectfully invite your serious attention, we will give in substance the chief financial statements of those reports. Let us begin with that of the Domestic Committee.
The whole income of that committee for the year was $42,107. This sum includes $3,642 from the "Episcopal Missionary Association for the West," located in Philadelphia. It includes also $9,093 received on account of legacies. Out of this income, the Committee have had on their hands the support and travelling expenses of four Missionary Bishops, and 104 Missionaries; their work extending from Maine, to Texas, and California and Oregon. After deducting the salaries and expenses of the four bishops--and all the expenses of the management of the cause at the office in New-York, there was left an average of $282 to each Missionary. At the end of the year, the Committee found themselves in advance of their receipts to the amount of seven thousand dollars. What then, shall we say, is the real money-estimate of the cost to which our Church put itself during the year? What is the exhibit [4/5] of the interest of our church, during that period, for the extension of the Gospel in the home-field, by her ministry, and the agency of her Board of Missions? We must deduct the legacies; for they belong to past years, and are no evidence of the zeal of the living church. The answer is--$33,014! Such is the whole effort of our Church during the year, '54-55, in support of its Board of Missions, in the great work and bounden duty of the Church for the promotion of the Kingdom of God, over a field reaching from ocean to ocean, from Canada to Mexico; and the needs of which, and the value of which, to the eye of Christian truth, cannot be measured.
We are well aware that this statement does not cover all that has been done for Domestic Missions. We are keeping singly in view, that general agency in which our whole Church is represented. We are glad to know that in all the older dioceses, and probably in nearly all the new, there are organizations for the support of internal missions which assist in the support of many Missionaries within their respective dioceses. The amount of money raised by them we have not the means of ascertaining. But what a vast proportion of the domestic field is wholly beyond the view of those diocesan operations--and is committed exclusively to the Board, in whose cause we are now addressing you, we need not remind you.
Let us turn to the Foreign Committee. Here you must remember, that if the receipts of the Domestic Committee do not represent all the contributions of our Church for the homework, those of the Foreign Committee do represent all for the foreign.
The report of that branch embraces a period of fifteen months. The proportion of receipts for twelve months is estimated in the report at $60.000. Of this amount, the legacies received make $4,437. The actual donations of the Church during the year, must be estimated, in the valuation of its living zeal, at $55,563. At the end of the year, bills for supplies [5/6] shipped to Africa, the previous fall and spring, were yet unpaid; the treasury was without means to pay them; $3,000 were due for money borrowed; and $5,000 worth of further supplies had to be shipped immediately; not to speak of perplexities and embarrassments of the most painful and discouraging kind, to which the Committee had been put, by the tardy and insufficient income.
But there was one fact mentioned in the report of the Foreign Committee, which made upon the Board, in its recent meeting, as indeed it was well calculated to make, a deep and most painful impression. There were three young men, ordained ministers, whose hearts God had touched with the rod of his power, and turned to the work of the Gospel in Africa and China. They had given themselves to that call of God. They had renounced all to obey it. They were in entire readiness to go. So had they been for many months, earnest, and waiting and asking to be allowed to go. To give up the life to which they had consecrated themselves they felt would be a most painful trial. But what hindered? They applied to the Committee, were approved, and the Committee were most anxious to send them. And there they were at the meeting of the Board, and no prospect appearing that they would be sent; nobody doubting that they had been called of God to go, and that our Church was called of God to send them. And what was the great difficulty? It would cost only the sum of $4,500, to send them and sustain them for a year. The Committee had it not. The Committee were in debt for the support of those they had sent already. The Committee had an experience of the readiness of the Church to obey such calls of God, too painful and discouraging to warrant them in sending those brethren, without waiting till the case could be laid before the Board. They did not feel authorized to incur the risk of an expense of so small a sum as $4,500--for the sake of adding three more Missionaries to Africa and China. They were justified by the experience of the past. But there the consecrated men were waiting--and how long were they to wait; and how much more were they to be discouraged; and [6/7] how much longer was the Holy Spirit of God, by whom they were moved to desire that work and labour of love, to be grieved, by the unwillingness of our Church to send those whom God had called; and how much further were we to incur the guilt and shame of praying the Lord of the harvest to send laborers, and then when He sends them, refusing to do our part to place them in the field? Such were the thoughts that arose most painfully and solemnly at that meeting. For a time, it seemed as if that crisis (for it was a crisis in the spiritual history and welfare of our Church) would pass; and that all that guilt would still go on, and those brethren would have' to go away more disheartened than they came, and the crushing weight of the condemnation would get heavier and heavier on our Church, that when we prayed for labourers, and God heard, and sent them--we were not ready; our Church had not the heart to receive, to appreciate, to employ, God's blessings, sent in answer to her own prayers.
It was too much to endure. The sense of the shame and sin broke out and took possession of the meeting. The necessary amount was raised immediately; the young men were comforted; the shame was stopped. It was a small meeting, composed almost exclusively of clergymen. What they then did, it was stipulated, was to be not a part of what otherwise they would have done, for the foreign work. The facility of raising that additional sum, among so few, shows what might be done in the whole Church, and what under a right sense of the duty, would be done. May the spirit of that meeting be extended far and wide! May the condition of things that drew it forth be never witnessed again among us. To a worldly eye, it was nothing but that three young men wanted to be sent to Foreign Missions, and the funds to send them were not on hand, and they could not go, and probably would have to give up the expectation of going. To an eye that looked beyond the outward appearance, it was that God, in sending His Spirit to the hearts of those young men, to move, and to prepare them for his work in China and in Africa, had declared, in the most convincing way, what He would have our [7/8] Church to do with those messengers; and not only had we not done it, but we had manifested no signs that we intended to do it.
Brethren, what is really the explanation of our doing so little in proportion to the means of our people? What shall we say of it? What must not be felt concerning it? After all the explanations and excuses that can be given; after we have made all allowance for diocesan missions, sustained by means not reported here, and have remembered that all the money that went to foreign missions, from our Church, is given here--we cannot look at the actual ability of our people, the positions they hold in society, the abundance they expend on themselves and their families and on matters of mere transitory interest, without feeling that there is nothing to he said for the case presented, but that it is most sorrowful and most humiliating; to be confessed with shame before God, and a loud call for prayer to the great Head of the Church, that He may not take His Holy Spirit from us. The cause of Missions has laid at our gates, feeble; and languishing, begging to be fed out of our abundance; and while in many places we have been lavishing our wealth on the erection of magnificent churches for our own pleasure, finding abundant means for the gratification of taste and the indulgence of luxury in all domestic relations, we have sent to that needy suppliant, asking in the name and warrant of God, hardly. the crumbs from our table. What is the explanation? Has not the cause been, these many years, presented to the Church in every variety of precept and exhortation? Has it not been most formally and solemnly adopted by the Church, in both branches, and in all the extensiveness of the work; so that if there be any doctrine to which, as a Church, we are committed by our own legislative declarations and institutions, it is the doctrine that the whole Missionary work is the work of the whole Church, and that every member of the Church, by his membership, is committed thereto, and as a Christian, professing allegiance to Christ, and under vows to follow his example, to manifest his spirit, and to seek his glory, is bound to [8/9] take part therein and promote it, as God shall give him the ability and opportunity.
What then, we repeat, is the explanation of our exceeding short-coming? Shall we say, as was said and felt in the late meeting of the Board of Missions, the explanation is found in a languid, feeble, cold, worldly state of religion in our Church? What other answer can be given? Go into other explanations, as we may; they have some weight perhaps, here and there; they may apply to this parish, or that; they may alleviate the matter, as to this ministry, or the other; but they are partial. The whole case is not materially affected It must be the state of religion among us, simply and singly, that explains such meagre fruits, after all the years of our missionary institution, and all the efforts to awaken our people to the duty of its cause. It is painful to be forced to this conclusion; but if it be true, we must meet it; and the sooner we take all its reality to our consciences and hearts, and get down into a spirit of humiliation before God, on account of it, the sooner we shall be a wise, and vigorous, and prosperous Church, in those things which alone make the true welfare of a Church of Christ.
Let us not be deceived as to the real condition of our Church. Evidences of growth in outward and visible signs, may be no conclusive signs of growth in the "Spirit of life in Christ Jesus." "As many as are led by the Spirit of God, they are sons of God." "If any man have not the Spirit of Christ, he is none of his." "The fruit of the Spirit is love." How can we manifest the Spirit of Christ, if we have not love for the souls he died for, and for the cause that brought him from his throne to his cross? How can we, as a Church, give evidence that we are led by the Spirit of Christ, but in proportion as we are earnest to do the work which he has committed to the Church as its own great function and stewardship? What if we were penetrated with that honest, simple, duty-loving piety, the constant inquiry of which is, Lord, what wouldst thou have me to do, in return for thy love to me; in the exercise of thy life in me; and to promote that life in this [9/10] dead world? Yea, dear brethren, what if, among our communicants, that great truth and duty of Christian life were more generally and strongly felt, "Know ye not that ye are not your own? For ye are bought with a price. Therefore glorify God in your body and in your spirit which are God's!" What, if it were realized how entirely that price has bought us up for the service of Christ, so that "not your own" is written on all we have and all we are, extending its claim to the hundreds of thousands of the affluent, as well as the pennies of the poor! What, if in obedience of spirit to that claim, the universal question of our people, in reference to the wants of the Missionary work, were, not as it is so often, "what must I give to satisfy duty," but "what may I give to aid the work, and to indulge a heart earnest to glorify God?" Yea, what if it were deeply felt in all the labors of our Ministry, that to teach and urge the cultivation of a spirit which loves to take part in the promotion of the gospel, and loves to deny one's self and make sacrifices in that cause, is as essential a part of the work of the Ministry, enters as essentially into the religious welfare of a congregation, belongs as much to the promotion of a healthful religious character in the Christian, as the urging of any other of the duties entrusted to the teaching of the Ministry? What, then, would be the gifts of our people? What mines of wealth would soon be discovered--all under; bond to the service of God? What facility would be found in doing twenty fold more than is now done with so much difficulty! 0, what should be our prayer, but, "Create in us a clean heart, O God, and renew a right spirit within us! Our soul cleaveth unto the dust: quicken thou us according to thy word. Restore unto us the joy of thy salvation, and uphold us with thy free spirit. Then will we teach transgressors thy ways, and sinners shall be converted unto thee." Let us unitedly strive after that quickening power of God, that it may carry newness of life through all the members of our mystical body, and we may stand up revived and full of the Spirit of Christ for his glorious work.
To the further enforcement of this our affectionate [10/11] exhortation, allow us to occupy a little more of your attention, brethren, with certain very serious considerations arising out of the state of things already presented.
First--The painful effect on the minds of the Missionaries. Take, for example, some faithful brother in the mission on the coast of Africa. He is surrounded with all that is depressing and oppressive to a Christian mind. All that he sees, except just in his own little station-circle, is the unbroken kingdom of darkness. There he is, with sling and stone, to subdue that mighty kingdom, walled around with all the power, entrenched in all the superstitions and degradations of Satan's heathenism. What faith he needs! What trials of faith he must endure! How he needs all the support he can find! Whither shall he look! To God and his promises? Yes! To the history of the triumphs of the gospel against that very kingdom, under the preaching of its first ministers? Yes! But then the whole Church, little flock as it was, was alive with the zeal of the work. "They were all of one heart and of one soul." Apostles and laymen, men of office in the Church, no more than others, were workers together with God. The body had many members, and each member had its own work; but the life of all was one life, from one heart; all constrained by the love of Christ to live unto him. The advanced soldier, penetrating the empire of darkness, knew that he was only the advance of a host of brethren who felt the most intense interest in his contest, whose sympathies constantly embraced him, whose prayers constantly followed him; he, down in the valley fighting with Amalek; they, in the mount holding up holy hands and hearts to God to make him conqueror. What precious aid was that; how a solitary heart, on heathen deserts, leans upon it!
But where shall our Missionary in Africa or China look? He needs that comfort--his heart craves the consolation of knowing that he, too, is the advanced soldier of such an earnest, sympathising, supporting column of Christians at home; that if God should open more and more widely before him the field of labour, creating the need of additional labourers to [11/12] occupy it, and more and more contribution of money to improve the blessing, there would be a thankful and joyful readiness at home to send it. He must be able to depend on that, or how can he labour for the very success that would produce that additional need? But what does he see? We need not take you back over the case we have stated. We need not bid you think of the present difficulties to pay for supplies already sent, and sustain the labourers already at work. We need not return to that long waiting of those three Missionaries to be sent to Africa and China, because, though little more than four thousand dollars were wanted to meet the cost, it could not be got. But such is the aspect of things that meets the eye of the Missionary, looking home to the Church that sent him, and begging the comfort and strength of resting, next to the promises of God, on the sympathies, the love, the zeal, the cordial co-operation, the prayers of our whole communion.
Secondly--We are commanded to pray for the sending of more labourers into the harvest-field. They are greatly needed, and will be, for a long time to come. The prayer must not cease though thousands and thousands be sent. But where are more labourers needed? On what regions of want are our thoughts fixed, when we pray? Is it some little spot here and there, near at hand, where to send a Minister would cost but little, so that we may not incur the danger of such answer to our prayer, as would tax our benevolence too heavily? Or are we thinking of our whole vast domestic field; and of all the world of want; and of our present stations in the foreign field, as beginnings only of a work to be widened and ramified as fast as God shall open the way in the territories where Satan's seat is? Is this the contemplation of our prayer? Then what if our prayer be heard, and God should send many labourers, and send them to us to be put in the field of work, saying, 'My providence has already deposited in your keeping the silver and the gold to place and feed them there.' Are we ready for so much answer to our prayers? Are we prepared to meet the Head of the Church with his messengers, as he has met us in our prayers? How does the experience of the last year and of [12/13] other years reply? What discouragement does that experience and all the aspect of the Church--half of its parishes doing nothing for its Board of Missions, and such an average of contributions from such as have done something--what discouragement do they place before the Christian that desires to be constant in prayer, that God would send forth laborers more and more! What condition more painful than to be commanded of God to pray, and yet to be conscious that if our prayer be answered, the blessing will find us unprepared to receive it?
Lastly.--The connection between such a state of things as has been presented, and the divine blessings of our Church. It is a very serious question, how we can expect the blessing of the Spirit of God upon our communion and its parishes, while they are so unfaithful to that which the Lord has given us to do. There never was but one event that brought down the host of angels to earth, and made their song of joy heard among men; and that was the coming of a Saviour to men. We know of but one event on earth that has power now to concentrate all the praise of that host before the throne of that Saviour in Heaven; and that is, "when one sinner repenteth." It is the repentance of sinners for which the end of the world is delayed. "God is long-suffering to us-ward, and not willing that any should perish, but that all should come to repentance." That is the fruit which God expects of our tree, planted in his vineyard; from our Church, our Ministry, our Missions, our labours, here and afar off, wherever we can carry his gospel. Is there not a most intimate connection between the continuance of the blessing of the Lord of the vineyard on that tree, and the fruitfulness of the same? Is it not to the servant who improves what he hath, as the Master expects that more will be given? Is it not the candlestick from which the light doth not shine as the Lord hath appointed, that will be taken away? Is it not "he that soweth plenteously that shall reap plenteously," and the withholding more than is meet that tendeth to poverty?
We have reason to praise God for his mercy and grace, in giving a blessing to our missions far beyond what, from our real [13/14] efforts, we have had reason to expect? If there be any who, balancing the moneys expended in our Foreign Missions against the visible progress made, are disposed to complain of the cost, we are ready to deny that there has been any cost. All expenditure has been abundantly paid back, not only in the actual success of the missions in the salvation of souls that are beyond all price, but in the reflex good which our Church has derived from the effort to sustain that expenditure. There is not a parish, or a person, in our Church. who is one cent the poorer for any thing that has been done; while our whole Church would certainly have been much the poorer, had that expenditure been denied. We believe there are many Churches (would that many more had adopted the same plan,) and many individuals, that are much more ready and morally able to give now, by having exercised their hearts in giving largely before. The Churches that have borne the largest proportions of the expense, are those that think least of the cost of our missions, and who feel that payment back again has been richly made. It is they that have done the most already, who are now the readiest to do it again, and to whom the applications of this cause are carried, from year to year, with the certainty of finding the "cheerful giver" whom the Lord loves. We do not speak of such stewards when we think of the danger of losing the blessing of God on our Church. Their fleece will be wet, though all around be dry." But we are "members one of another." All must suffer when any suffer. And the question is a serious one for all:--How far, with our knowledge of duty, and our means of usefulness, we may expect the blessing of the Spirit of God in our Church, while we lag so far behind in our Missionary duty.
But while we are putting that question, the blessing is coming down most cheeringly on our Foreign missions. How little are God's thoughts as our thoughts, and His ways as our ways! The accounts from Africa, last received, are encouraging indeed, and new fields seem opening in China. The work is breaking forth on the right hand and on the left. The degraded native mind is awaking. The labours of the native [14/15] teachers are good, and are showing precious fruit. Let us awake and prove that we know how to receive such blessings in theory we have long been a missionary Church. May the works of all years to come be our evidences that we are a missionary Church in deed and in truth!
We remain, brethren,
Your servants in the Lord,
CHAS. P. MCILVAINE,
WILLIAM BACON STEVENS,
J. L. CLARKE,
LUTHER BRADISH, Committee.
[Bishop Potter, of Pennsylvania, was appointed a Member of the Committee. His absence from his Diocese has prevented the obtaining of his signature.]