PROTESTANT EPISCOPAL PRESS.
Adams & Torrey, printers.
It does not belong to so humble an individual as the writer of the following pages, to propose, in specific terms, a model for a new organization of the Domestic and Foreign Missionary Society. The change, which he advocates, may be effected in various ways; by substituting two Executive Committees and two Secretaries, for one Executive Committee and one Secretary; by carrying the division still higher, to the establishment of two Boards of Directors; or by making the separation complete, and organizing two Societies, each holding the same relation to the General Convention, which the present Society now holds. The least that the writer would be understood as arguing for, is a division of the executive department, which includes the Executive Committee and Secretary.
The present is a season full of promise to the Church and the world. We need no prophetic vision to foresee the issue of events now transpiring. The Church seems about to enter upon the work of Missions, with new endeavors, and, we trust, in a new spirit. She is ready to establish her first mission on heathen ground. This undertaking will not only bring before her, a field whose borders enclose nearly half the population of the pagan world, but will enlist her compassion in behalf of all other heathen nations, and will open the way for the establishment of Missions among them. The work, once commenced, will never cease, if commenced aright. It will gather to itself new strength as it advances it wit gain new advocates and supporters; the depth and breadth and power of its current will be augmented by new tributaries; it will mingle with the streams that have already issued from other sources and their united waters will pour the quick, living tide of salvation over the earth.
Such being the present position of the Church, it becomes a serious question,--"Is she prepared for extensive and efficient missionary effort?" That there exists in the hearts of her children far more of the spirit of Missions than has yet been manifested in action, and that this spirit has lately received a large increase, we cannot doubt. Only one thing more is prerequisite to vigorous and successful exertion; and that is, an efficient instrumentality. This is of prime importance. It is the hands, as the missionary spirit is the heart, of the enterprize or rather, it is that organ which takes up and distributes the charities of the Church, which may be regarded as the nutriment of the system. The instrument must be fitted for its work, or the work cannot he rightly and well performed. The means must be adapted to the end, or the end cannot be attained. The missionary, like every other human undertaking, has its appropriate and peculiar agency. This agency, whatever it may be, must be sought out and brought into practice.
The present, then, is not only a season of promise, but a season for inquiry. Our immediate concern should be, not so much to procure support for our new mission just ready to be commenced, as to lay a foundation, broad, deep and firm, for [5/6] all our future missionary operations,--to settle the cause of Missions upon its right basis--to fix it forever upon its proper principles--to bring out to view the distinctive elements of the enterprize--to seek for its appropriate agency--to determine the true theory of Missions, and to trace out the legitimate mode of its application in practice.
The question then returns,--"Is the Church prepared for extensive and efficient missionary action?" Does she possess an instrumentality formed upon the established principles of the missionary work? Is it one which gives free play to her energies--which brings into full exercise her holy zeal--which not only acts outward upon the world, but inward upon herself--which enlarges the spirit by which it is itself sustained, and carries her forward in a course of new developments of power and of glorious achievement, on the wide field of effort?
The appointed agent and instrument of the Church, in her missionary operations, is the Domestic and Foreign Missionary Society. An answer to the questions just offered, can be obtained only by an examination of the structure and constitution of that Society. Upon this examination we shall now enter. Gladly would the writer retire from the task before him, were he not urged to it, by the fullest conviction of duty, and the humble hope, that his imperfect labor, performed amidst the distractions of other engagements, may serve, at least, to call the attention of abler minds to the consideration of a subject, which, in the present crisis, seems to him, of vital importance to the Church and the world. He will not, for a moment, indulge the fear, that the views which he shall present, will be received in any other spirit than that in which they are offered--the spirit of candor and love. The friends of Missions will cordially entertain and consider every suggestion which proceeds from a pure motive, and aims at the promotion of the Redeemer's kingdom throughout the world.
It is the opinion of many in the Church,--of men whose names, if mentioned here, would add to the remarks of the writer, all the weight which the authority of a name can add to any argument,--that there is a radical defect in the Constitution of our General Missionary Society, particularly in this respect--that the two distinct causes of Domestic and Foreign Missions are intrusted to the control and direction of one and the same agency. The same body of men who conduct the missionary operations of the Church at home, have the entire and sole management of those abroad. This objection involves every other which has come to the knowledge of the writer, with the exception of a few, not founded, like this, on general and long-established principles. With these last the writer has no concern at present. The whole subject of the present discussion may, therefore, be included in the following proposition, viz: THE SUCCESSFUL PROSECUTION OF THE MISSIONARY WORK REQUIRES, THAT ITS TWO GREAT DEPARTMENTS OF EFFORT BE CONDUCTED BY DIFFERENT AGENTS.
Before proceeding to the defence of this position, we would remark, that the change which it contemplates in our present missionary organization, must, in the progress of time, be rendered absolutely necessary by circumstances. As the extent of our missionary operations shall increase, the labor which they require, on the part of the officers of the. Society, will be in creased in equal proportion. A few years may produce such changes in this respect, that our Foreign Missions alone will demand the undivided energies and time of one Committee and one Secretary. This will result not so much from the increase of missionaries to foreign lands, as from the greater amount of labor required in conducting foreign operations. The difference between the two causes in this respect, is almost too broad for a comparison. The American Board, with about one hundred missionaries, employs three secretaries, who devote their whole time to its concerns. The American Home Missionary Society, with seven hundred missionaries in the field, employs but one secretary.--The time must come, sooner or later, when a division of labor in our General Society will be found indispensable. A change will be necessary, very similar to that which we are now advocating. We only anticipate this necessity, in proposing, that the change be immediate. Is it inquired,--"Why not leave it to be effected when the necessity for it shall arise?" We reply,--Is it not better that it be made at the outset? The Church, as has been remarked, is just entering upon the work of Missions to heathen lands. Is not the present, then, the time for improvements in her missionary agency? Is it not best, that the society should be placed at once upon the most sure and permanent foundation which can be laid, and that those changes only, be left to future contingencies, which are, at present, impracticable, or beyond the reach of human foresight?
But there are other and stronger reasons in favor of our position,--which we now pass to notice.
1. The Domestic and Foreign Missionary Society is the only existing missionary society in the world, which unites, under one agency, the two departments of missionary effort. The Baptist Home and Foreign Missionary Societies are, like our own, under the control of a General Convention. But the societies are entirely separate, and have each a distinct organization. The same is true of the Presbyterian Societies. The American Board of Commissioners for Foreign Missions, and the American Home Missionary Society, have no connection with each other. Say the American Board, in their Address to the Christian Public, in 1812,--"All benevolent societies are [7/8] sisters. Occupying different fields of usefulness, and acting advantageously by adopting the principle of a division of labor, they promote the success of each other, and accomplish vastly more than could be done by the same pecuniary means under the direction of one society. They possess all the advantages of combination; and yet do not become unwieldy and embarrassed by the multiplicity of their concerns." The English societies cannot be fairly cited as examples, as Domestic Missionary Associations are unknown in that country. [This remark must be confined to the Church of England. Most of the dissenting denominations are engaged in Domestic Missions.] The societies of France and other countries on the continent, are instances in point, and all are constituted on the principle of division of labor. We have, then, the united testimony of Christians of every name and country, in proof of the invalidity of the present organization of our General Society; for the societies to which we have alluded, are so many representatives of the opinions of those by whom they were founded. The Tract and Bible Societies of this country and of England, bear the same testimony; for these two causes are not more distinct in object, and far less distinct in modes of operation, than those of Foreign and Home Missions.
We might strengthen this argument by abundant testimony from men, whose acquaintance with the theory and practice of Missions is most accurate and extensive. A single witness must suffice.
The lamented Dr. Wisner, late secretary of the American Board of Commissioners for Foreign Missions, was eminently distinguished for his thorough acquaintance with the missionary work, for the largeness and comprehensiveness of his views, his profound knowledge of human nature, and his deep practical wisdom. In a conversation with the writer, but a few days before his death, he gave it as his decided opinion, that what was chiefly needed for the engagement of the Episcopal Church in the work of Foreign Missions, was a separate organization of its Home and Foreign agencies, and that our general Society was incapacitated, by the very nature of its constitution, for large and efficient missionary action.
And now, may we ask, have we nothing to learn from all this? Is it nothing that the general experience of Christendom, for the last fifty years, and the testimony of men, whose judgment on such a subject as this, is worthy of the highest regard, are against us? Is it at all probable that they are wrong, and that we alone are right? We think that this will not be affirmed. We believe, that the attempt will never be made, to prove, that union is preferable to division of labor. At least, we may venture to say, no one will ever undertake to establish such a [8/9] position, from the settled principles of the missionary enterprise. Is there, then, any necessity for the present organization of our society, arising from peculiar circumstances, or the character of the Episcopal Church? Let such necessity be shown, and every objection is set aside at once. The writer is not very intimately acquainted with the origin of the Domestic and Foreign Missionary Society. The circumstances under which it arose, may have determined its peculiar structure. But do those circumstances still exist, and are they still uncontrollable? If so, the writer must confess himself ignorant of them, and must, therefore, leave it to others to make them known. Is there, then, any thing in the peculiar constitution of the Episcopal Church, which compels a departure from the usage of every other denomination, in the particular before us? Is the principle of division of labor anti-Episcopal? On the contrary, does it not enter into the very structure of the Episcopal Church? Does it not appear in the orders of her ministry, and in her convocational, diocesan, and conventional system? We will say, without fear of contradiction, that no denomination of Christians can avail themselves of this principle more readily or more largely than Episcopalians. We do not, then, plead for any thing inconsistent with the constitution or established practice of the Church. If any such inconsistency can be shown, we will yield our point at once.
2. The present constitution of the Society must prevent, to a great degree, freedom of action.
It is--and must ever be--in conflict with the existing state of feeling in the Church, on the subject of Missions. The two causes are committed to the management of the same executive body. By the constitution, no preference is given to either. They stand upon the same level. In order, then, to freedom of action, the views and feelings of Episcopalians, on the subject of Missions, should correspond with this peculiar feature of the constitution. There should be--if such a thing is possible--a general missionary spirit. The two causes should be kept in equipoise. We mean not, that the number and ability of the friends of one cause should be precisely equal to those of the other. Every heart should be evenly balanced between the two. This is the only possible condition of things to which a society, like our own, is suited. But who does not know, that it does not exist, and that it can never be realized? What mind or heart is there, (which is not wholly indifferent to all missionary effort,) that does or can, preserve this perfect equilibrium. The truth is, that the friends of Foreign Missions, and the friends of Home Missions, in the Church, as out of it, form two distinct classes. We do not say that none contribute to both, and even pray for the prosperity of both. But we may say, that none possess exactly the same attachment to both. [9/10] The cause of Foreign Missions looks chiefly to those who are particularly devoted to it, for its support. And so of the Home cause. Nor this alone. There are many in the Church, who are interested only in Domestic Missions, and whose missionary charities flow altogether in that direction. They may, or may not, be opposed to Foreign Missions. The converse of this, perhaps, is also true.
Now, what correspondency is there between such a state of things and the constitution of our General Society? Not at all. While it professes to be the representative of both interests, it is, in truth, the representative of neither. It is exposed to a constant jarring with one or the other. So long as it pre serves its balance, it may move on harmoniously--if not rapidly. But, if it preponderates on either side, it stumbles and falls. its only safety is in the evenness of its movement. But are we to suppose, that the claims of the two causes which are intrusted to it, are always to remain in equilibrium? Remain, do we say? Are they now in that state? Do they call for equal effort? We think not, and we are not alone in the opinion. We believe, that God, in his providence, is demanding of the Church, extraordinary effort for the evangelization of the heathen. But how can the Society respond to this demand, without exciting dissatisfaction in others. But this is not all. The call from distant lands is every day becoming louder and more urgent. The vast fabric of Hindooism is already tottering from its base. Its worship and licentious festivals are fast falling into disrepute. Thousands have forsaken the religion of their fathers, and are zealously engaged in the work of its destruction. But they are not Christians. And why? The Gospel has not been offered to them. The light of reason and conscience has disclosed to them the folly and manifold absurdities of their former faith, but the light of Revelation has not dawned upon their benighted vision. We might point to like signs in almost every heathen nation, and, in view of them, we might take up and repeat the voice which comes to us from the throne of God, and from the high places of error throughout the earth. The time is rapidly approaching, when the Church must say, whether, upon the ruins of heathenism there shall grow up some other form of superstition, more hideous, more vital, more enduring; or whether the Church of the living God shall arise and shine, in all her beauty and glory.
Let us suppose, that the time has already come, and that the friends of Foreign Missions, in the Church, are urging the necessity of immediate and extraordinary effort. The call is heard. The energies of the Society are turned into a new channel. Appeal after appeal is sent abroad through the Church, in behalf of the heathen nations. Contributions for Foreign Missions flow in from every quarter. The operations of the [10/11] Society in foreign lands, are extended and multiplied--while those at home remain as before. Would such exclusive application to the foreign cause be regarded by all, with approbation? Would no complaints be heard from those who are known as the particular friends of Domestic Missions? Might they not say, and justly too, that the Society had departed from its constitutional design? That one of its objects was preferred before the other, contrary to its fundamental principle?--Is it replied, that such an exigency, as we have supposed, will never occur, and that, if it should, every true Churchman will be ready to leave the duty of the Society, to those who have the direction of its concerns? We answer, that although so strong a case as we have supposed, may never arise, it is altogether beyond doubt, that the relative claims of the two objects of the Society do not now, and will not, for many years to come, appear the same, to the mind of any man who is at all interested in either. And as to the submission of private judgment to the views of the Society's Executive, can we hope for that, in the future, which has not been in the past? Before the establishment of the China Mission, many had long entertained the opinion, that too exclusive attention was given to Domestic Missions. They regarded the Society as foreign, only in name. And now that this opinion is, in part, removed, is it quite certain, that dissatisfaction has not sprung up in the opposite quarter? Are there no murmurings of complaint against the late extraordinary efforts in behalf of Foreign Missions? Is there no fear, that the current is already setting outward too strongly? We would not ask the question, if we had not seen sufficient evidence that such is the fact. Now let it be admitted that all such suspicions are groundless and unreasonable. Still they have existed; they exist now; and we have no reason to believe that they will soon cease to exist. On the contrary, the occasion for them is every day becoming more apparent. Our brethren who have just gone out from us, (Heaven protect them!) will soon reach the shores of China. Their spirits will be stirred within them, as they contemplate her moral desolations. They will cry to the. Church for help, and help will not be refused. Others will be ready, nay, are ready now, to follow in their steps. The Society will find it necessary to enlarge the Mission, in order to sustain it; for that is true of every Foreign Mission, which is seldom true of any at home, it can be preserved only by being enlarged. In this way, the balance of effort will be destroyed, and the Society will become more exposed than ever, to the charge of partiality.
This impediment to free action must remain, so long as the Society continues under its present constitution. It grows out of the union of two distinct objects under a single agency. It can be removed only by the separation which we propose. Let [11/12] each cause have its own set of agents; let each department be made independent of the other; let there be no other connection between them than through the General Convention,--their common head,--and the difficulty is at once surmounted. The Executive Committee for Foreign Missions will devote them selves to their appropriate object with all the advantage of a singleness of aim and effort. Looking only at their own cause, they will be ready to take up and carry forward the largest designs of Christian zeal. Freed from the necessity of that constant solicitude and circumspection, which now arises from having a two-fold object of pursuit, their efforts will have all the energy and power of freedom. They will be expected to accomplish for Foreign Missions as much as a single Committee can accomplish for both causes united. They will accomplish far more; for they will have the advantage of a steady concentration of power on a single object.
3. A separation is necessary in order to excite in the Church, an interest in Foreign Missions.
The work of converting the world is one. It is based upon the command of Christ: "Go ye into all the world, and preach the Gospel to every creature:" and upon his declaration--THE FIELD IS THE WORLD. Its spring of action is obedience and love,--not the love of the natural man, but a holy love,--the image of the divine love;--the same in its nature, proceeding from goodness--the same in its manifestation, embracing the world.
This great enterprize of love offers the only proper end of Christian effort. The disciple of Christ should regard the conversion of the world as the ultimate object of his labors. His sphere of exertion should be that in which he may accomplish most for that end. This is the only valid rule of choice. But none can labor directly for the whole world. The work to which we are called, though strictly ONE in its principle and ultimate end, includes numerous departments of effort. It is a vast moral machinery of means and ends, distinct in themselves, but all tending, in perfect harmony, to the production of one grand result. The field is the world, but it is geographically divided into islands, territories and continents. The field is the world, but it is politically divided into empires and states. The field is the world, but it is morally divided into Christian, Papal, Mohammedan and Pagan, and each of these into subdivisions still more minute. The work is, to convert the world,--but it is not to be accomplished by any single mode of action. The preaching of the Gospel must be accompanied by the word of God, and both these by the diffusion of religious tracts, and all must be brought to bear, not at one point, but at every point where mind is accessible. The work is, to convert the world,--yet it has various departments, and every [12/13] department has its own object, single and perfect in itself, distinct in its end, and peculiar in its means and modes of operation.
The spirit of Missions, abstractly. and in its largest sense, is a zeal for the conversion of the world. But this general zeal becomes productive, only when it becomes specific. It cannot prompt to definite action, unless it is first fixed on some definite object. A general zeal is vague and vapory. It might be available of good, if it were possible for an individual mind to act upon the world, as a whole. But such effort is beyond all human power. It is the prerogative of God alone. The active principle must be as variously diversified as are the objects of pursuit. The missionary spirit is the mainspring, the primum mobile, of the whole system of means and ends, subordinate to the one great end--the conversion of the world. It must adapt itself to their distinctive characters, it must become identified in every heart with some particular object--it must appear as a zeal for the diffusion of the Bible--or of Tracts--for Sabbath Schools--for Temperance--for the increase of Ministers, and religious privileges at home--or for the spread of the Gospel among the unevangelized nations.
Great efforts have recently been made, to increase the contributions in aid of Foreign Missions; and no one whose heart is warm with love for the perishing heathen, no one who rejoices in every new display of holy zeal in the Church, can withhold the tribute of humble gratitude to God, in view of the ready and hearty response wit which these appeals have been met. But we should not forget, that our dependence for the support of the missionary work must be, not upon occasional charities called forth by extraordinary effort, not upon the uncertain impulses of natural benevolence, nor the momentary excitement of Christian sympathy, but upon permanent and steady principles of action. The foundation of the foreign enterprize must be laid, broad and deep, in the hearts of Christians. It must rise upon the sure basis of an abiding, ever-active love for the cause.
But how is this specific form of the missionary spirit, this deep and ardent love for the heathen, to be excited in the Church! Obviously in no other way than by bringing the cause of Foreign Missions distinctly into view--by setting forth the salvation of the heathen, as a separate Object of Christian endeavor. This; again, can be thoroughly effected only in one way. The cause must have its own representative--its own instruments and agents, whose business it shall be, to present the wants of heathen lands to the Church, by means of the press and preaching agents, to enlist Christian compassion in their behalf, and to draw out that compassion into action. But this is not all. The very establishment of a separate agency for Foreign Missions will give prominence and singleness to that cause. The eyes of [13/14] the Church will be fixed upon it. It will stand out by itself, attracting particular regard. It will assume new importance in the minds of religious men. Its friends will rejoice in its elevation and take courage, while all will be led to contemplate its object, and many to inquire, "Lord, what wilt thou have me to do?"
But, as things now are, the cause is deprived of this advantage. The unfortunate (may we call it?) organization of our General Society makes it to represent both causes, but neither, distinctly and prominently. Its very name, while it distinguishes, unites them. It is as single, in its structure and its aim, as, in the nature of things, it can be. It is fitted only to awaken a spirit of general good-will to the world, and but little, we fear, of that. But what will such a spirit avail for the perishing heathen? For all that it will ever accomplish in their behalf, they may continue for centuries to come, as in centuries past, to go down, in unbroken succession, to the grave, without the knowledge of the only true God and Jesus Christ whom he has sent.
4. We might have mentioned, under our last head, another proof of the unfitness of our present society to rouse the Church to the work of Foreign Missions. It is this--the society, as now constituted, can possess very little of the spirit of that work, itself. But we wish to devote to this fact, a separate consideration, with a view to its influence upon the operations of the society in the foreign cause.
We have already alluded to the necessity of an interest in Foreign Missions, on the part of the Church. Our remarks on that point, apply, with double force, to those in whose hands are reposed the charge and conduct of the work. So far as human agency is concerned, every thing depends ultimately on them. It belongs to them, to awaken the Church and to enlist her energies--to lead her forward, step by step, to higher degrees of zeal, and to wider spheres of effort. We do not mean to disparage the exertions of individuals. Much, very much, may be accomplished by clergyman, editors and private laymen. But the Missionary Society must still be the great fountain of missionary influence. It will, inevitably, impart its own character to the Church,--But this is not the precise point which we wish now, to present. Our Missionary Society, whatever may be its character, is the conductor of the foreign operations of the Church. It is her agent in this work. Its appropriate business here, is not so much to produce motion, as to regulate it--not so much to awaken the spirit of Missions, as to control and guide its action--not so much to elicit the contributions of the Church, as to apply them to their appropriate objects. It belongs to it, to devise and execute plans, to select fields of labor, to instruct missionaries, and to exercise a general super vision over the whole system of operations.
 Now the primary qualification for such a work as this, is a deep, ardent, all-controlling love of the cause of Foreign Missions. This is the very first condition of efficiency and energy. We need attempt no formal proof of the position. It is based upon a principle universally acknowledged. In the every-day pursuits of life, we anticipate success for those only whose hearts are in their work. How much more, then, in an enterprise whose very greatness requires the engagement of the most active and energetic powers of the soul. It is not from wisdom, skill or prudence, alone, nor from all these combined, that we are to expect great designs. The moving power must be in the heart. The soul must be filled with her object. She must fix her eye, in steady contemplation, upon it. She must live in it, and press forward towards it, with an eagerness and singleness of desire, which no human power can resist, no allurement divert. This high and constant love for the object of pursuit, is demanded in every sphere of action. It is an indispensable qualification in the merchant, the physician, and, above all, in the minister of the Gospel. It is required in every missionary of the Cross,--and is it less requisite in the conductors of Missions?
Here, then, we think, lies a prominent defect of our present missionary organization--arising wholly from the committal of two distinct objects into the hands of the same body of men; it does not admit of that exalted and single devotedness of which we have spoken. From the very nature of the human mind, this must be so. A diversity of objects divides and distracts it. It gives to them all, a languid and heartless attention. The more you multiply them, the weaker becomes its particular attachment to each. This is especially true, where the objects are markedly diverse from each other, where they move the mind by different motives, and excite opposite or dissimilar affections. All this is strictly applicable to the subject in hand. The Domestic and Foreign Missionary Society undertakes to carry forward two causes, which, though in theory one, actually stand at the opposite poles of Christian effort. They are diverse in their motives, in their means, and in their ends. They do not occupy the same level in the estimation of any man. Very few have so nicely adjusted them to their proper places, that they appear to maintain a perfect harmony of rank and claim. What shall we say, then, of a society that attempts to unite them in one compound organization? Does it provide for the exercise of that high, devoted attachment to Foreign Missions, which is the prime mover of free and vigorous action? What is there in it, to excite any particular interest for the heathen, in the hearts of its officers? Must it not, on the contrary, prevent all such peculiar attachment, by keeping constantly before them another and different object?
 Is it replied, that, in a society so constituted, an exclusive attachment to one of its objects is not desirable, because it would lead to the neglect of the other? True--but this serves only to strengthen our argument. We freely acknowledge, that the Executive of the Society are in duty bound to keep their interest in the two causes evenly balanced, otherwise they will be in danger of departing, on one side or the other, from the design of the society. They should, therefore, be men, who, though they sincerely desire the advancement of Christ's kingdom, do not prefer one mode of advancing it before another. They should not be distinguished for their devotion to Home Missions, else Foreign Missions suffer in their hands. They should not be singular in their attachment to Foreign Missions, lest Home Missions receive detriment from their preference. They should not be men; some of whom belong to one, and some to the other of these two classes, lest Discord obtrude herself upon their counsels. We do not complain, that the present Executive give no more attention to Foreign Missions. But we do deeply deplore the necessity, (beyond their control,) which prevents it.
The evil suggests its own remedy. If we would hasten the day, when the heathen shall be given to Christ for his inheritance, let us remember that, as love is the fulfilling of the law, so no other principle can secure hearty obedience, and that, therefore, we are to expect a full and free compliance with the last command of the Saviour, only where the heart is warmed with holy compassion for the perishing millions of heathen lands. Let us remember, too, that this heavenly affection is most ardent, only when it is permitted to fix itself without distraction upon its object--that then only, does it become the ruling passion of the soul, and prompt to designs and efforts worthy of so large and exalted ark enterprize. Let us no longer consider the cause of seven hundred millions, of so little importance, as not to require for itself, a distinct provision by the Church. Let it be intrusted to men who may devote to it their undivided energies, and, should they enter upon the work without any special interest in it, a steady and exclusive attention to it will soon create interest, which will grow into love and a spirit of holy enterprize, that shall renew in the Church the scenes of her youth, and lead her on, from conquering to conquer, until the kingdom, and dominion and the greatness of the kingdom under the whole heaven, shall be given to the people of the saints of the Most High.
5. Another, and the chief, objection to the union of the two departments in the Domestic and Foreign Missionary Society, is, that it is in direct opposition to the established principle of division of labor.
We have already hinted at the extent to which this principle has obtained in the structure of benevolent societies. Indeed the whole question before as is one respecting a division of labor; [16/17] and every argument which has been presented, is, in itself, a proof of the advantage of such division. But there are other ad vantages, which result from it more directly, and which, above all others, have led to an almost universal adoption of the principle, both in secular and religious affairs. These claim a distinct consideration.
On a subject which concerns only the agency of man, it is not irrelevant to adduce the practical testimony of worldly men. In every thing that falls within the sphere of human effort,--in imparting to human instrumentality, the utmost efficiency and energy of which it is capable--in devising the most judicious plans--in selecting the most appropriate means, and adapting them most adroitly to their respective ends, the children of this world are wiser than the children of light. Nor is this a useless or an artificial wisdom. It is founded upon the laws of nature and of mind--laws which no human agency, what ever he its aim and end, can violate or neglect with impunity.
Respecting the estimation in which the principle of a division of labor is held, among men of the world, there can be no question. Nor will any one deny its general prevalence, or its important uses in every department of secular industry. But, as this point has a manifest and direct bearing upon the subject before us, we beg leave to strengthen our own remarks, by an extract from an able essay of an English writer, entitled "New Model of Christian Missions;" a work, than which none is more sound, in its general principles, and none, perhaps, less sound, in its practical inferences. [The author of the Natural History of Enthusiasm. We may adopt his principles, without admitting his inferences.] "It is," he says, "the perfection with which, in modern times, the principle of the division of labor has been carried into effect, that has set the European nations generally, and the English in particular, so immensely in advance of the most polished people of antiquity, in all the useful arts, and in the executive processes of government. DIVISION OF LABOR, has seemed to vanquish impossibilities, and to impart a sort of omnipotence to human industry.
"Walk round the circle of the mechanic arts, as they are carried on in England, at the present moment; visit manufactories, warehouses, trading establishments, or public offices, and you will see, on every side and under a thousand forms, the same law working its way through difficulty and perplexity, with the ease of unconscious power, and with the celerity of enchantment. In the management of the revenues of state, or in the making of a pin, the very same engine,--the division of labor,--is brought to bear upon the process. Or if, here and there, from the stubbornness of inveterate custom, or the want of intelligence, or the impliability of subalterns, the obsolete and [17/18] clumsy modes of labor are persisted in, there you will also see Ruin resting her heavy hand upon the work; or, at the best, such small successes as may be obtained, are purchased at a cost of exertion, which, if better applied, would have secured ten times the product.
And now tell me," the writer continues, and we would make the question our own, "on what plea it is, that you would exclude from the management of Christian Missions, the unalterable law of successful achievement? Will you say, that this great work is to form an exception, because it belongs only in part, to human agency? In behalf of that part, I demand free entrance for the principle of division of labor. Human agency, be its range more or less limited, must submit itself to its proper condition, and can never, without impious presumption, aspire to a conformity with the methods of divine proceeding. On the present occasion we are not talking of miracles or of wonders; but of things that come under the hand of man of things which his skill may further, or his folly spoil. And we are not only speaking of a work that belongs to the sphere of human agency; but of one that is eminently difficult, operose, various in its circumstances; a work which peculiarly demands the application of specific qualifications to specific objects. No enterprize of commerce or of politics, nearly so much as the management of a Christian Mission to the unchristian world, demands that such and such individuals, rarely furnished by natural ability and laborious acquirements, should devote their undiverted attention, though life, to the same spheres of action."
The principal of division of labor is, then, equally applicable to the missionary enterprize, as to any other human undertaking. Its necessity, its purposes, and its benefits are the same, in both cases. Singleness of aim was the grand principle which first gave rise to a division of labor. Its advantages are those which result from appropriating to every object, which is of sufficient importance to demand it, a separate and peculiar agency. It will not, in this age of the world, be denied, that the cause of Foreign Missions is worthy of such distinction.
We proceed to notice some of the principal advantages of division of labor:
(1.) It promotes a particular interest, on the part of the agents, in their work. This point was treated at large, under the last head. A multiplicity of objects is incompatible with that high and single devotedness which every great enterprize demands. This remark is sustained by the experience and observation of every intelligent man, as well as by the soundest principles of philosophy.
(2.) It secures a concentration of power. The aggregated [18/19] energies of the whole body of agents are brought to bear upon a single point, and, in this way, far more is effected at that point, than could be effected by the application of the same energies to two or more points. The difference, in the two cases, is like the difference between the product and the aggregate of the same numbers, or between the effect of convex and of concave glasses upon the rays of the sun.
(3.) Division of labor permits a selection of agents peculiarly qualified for the work committed to them. As, in this case, the work is one, so it requires but one set of qualifications. But where objects, differing in character, and still more, perhaps, in their modes of operation, are entrusted to the same agents, qualifications of a corresponding variety are demanded. These are seldom to be found united in the same individual. The con sequence must be, that the Executive body will be composed of men, selected, either without regard to qualifications, or upon the principle of securing some, fitted for each of the different departments of business. If the former, the work will probably fall into the hands of men wholly unfit for it. "To imagine that a chance committee of some dozen or score of good sort of men, taken where they may be found, but possessing no specific qualifications for the duties they are to perform, can efficiently discharge these functions, is indeed to affront common sense in a manner that baffles reasonable expostulation." If the second course be adopted, there will always be a portion of the committee unqualified to counsel in the business before them.
The only question which can arise here, is--whether the labors of Home and Foreign Committees are so dissimilar, as to require different qualifications. To present a full answer to this inquiry, it would he necessary to go, at length, into a description of the duties of the managers of Foreign Missions. This we cannot now attempt. The truth is, that no two spheres of benevolent effort are more unlike in the details of their business, than are Domestic and Foreign Missions.
All that has been said respecting qualifications, applies, with two-fold force, to Secretaries of Missionary Societies; since, up on them, far more than upon the Executive Committee, the efficiency and success of such societies depend.
(4.) Division of labor is the best expedient for securing a thorough knowledge of any work. For, in the first place, the same amount of time is devoted to one object which would otherwise be divided between two or more. Secondly, as the interest is more intense where the end is single, so, in that case, a perfect acquaintance with it, together with its means and relations, is more eagerly sought after. Thirdly, the knowledge required is more simple, and, therefore, more easily and thoroughly attained. Fourthly, by division of labor, practice is made more uniform. It is, for the most part, a repetition of the same [19/20] process. In this way, experience is rapidly matured, and the highest degree of perfection is soon reached. Thus we account for the astonishing dexterity which is exhibited in those mechanical arts in which division of labor is carried to the greatest extent.
(5.) Division of labor is the best economy of time and effort. This is sufficiently evident without argument. The more single the aim, the more constant is the action, and the more free from distraction. The more thorough the knowledge, the less of time and effort is wasted on injudicious plans and modes of action. Says the writer, already quoted; "When a Society occupies an extensive and various field of labor, its Committee (and Secretary) are compelled to give their distracted attention, in rapid succession, now to the home concerns of the Society, and now to its foreign operations. Placed in circumstances so perplexing, what can be expected, even from the most accomplished talent, and the most unwearied assiduity, but a vague, inappropriate, and almost imbecile suffusion of mental strength over the immense surface of affairs. And what can be expected from zeal so disadvantaged, but a waste of resources upon projects which, though they might have succeeded had they enjoyed the benefit of undiverted counsels, could not but fail when they shared attention with a multitude of dissimilar concerns,"
(6.) Division of labor secures promptness of action. Where the object is single, there will be, at all times, a readiness for action. The attention being confined to a narrow sphere, it will discern more quickly every new advantage; being undiverted, it will seize more readily upon every opportunity for a vigorous and successful movement. A mind thus single in its aim, is ever on the alert, originating new means for promoting its favorite object, and availing itself of every favorable contingency.
(7.) Division of labor simplifies, and thus strengthens the sense of responsibility. The feeling of obligation becomes weak by diffusion. Where several objects occupy the mind, no one of them seems to claim a close and earnest attention. Responsibility is, if we may so speak, divided among them. If one is neglected, the rest, perhaps, have been diligently pursued; and even if they have not, the blame which attaches to the neglect of the other, is necessarily indefinite, because the precise proportion of labor which it deserves, can hardly be determined. But where, on the contrary, the object is single, its own claims, and, consequently, the corresponding obligation, may be accurately measured. It is expected, that the work will be done in the best possible manner, and that the greatest possible results will be produced. The energies of the agent are roused to the utmost stretch of effort. He knows that the judgment of others will be meted by his faithfulness and success in the one work committed to his hands. If he fails in that, he fails altogether.
 Such are the advantages of division of labor. They are Peculiar to it, and cannot be largely secured without it. They are also its common advantages, following, with the certainty of the laws of nature and of mind, wherever, in human concerns, it is introduced and fairly acted out. They appear, as fully and uniformly, in the results of missionary operations, conducted upon this principle, as in any sphere of merely secular industry, and the neglect of it, is as fatal here as elsewhere.
By the organization of the Domestic and Foreign Missionary Society, division of labor is excluded. Two causes, widely separated in their distinctive modes of operation, are amalgamated, and committed to the agency of one and the same body of men. What, then, are we to expect? That for us alone the laws of nature will be reversed? Or that the violations of those laws will, by some supernatural interposition, be made to hasten, rather than retard, the onward movement of the Church? What glorious issue are we to expect from a system of means, which represses the ardor of free and generous love--which prevents a concentration of power--a fitness of qualification--a proper acquaintance with the work in which it is employed--a wise economy of time and labor--promptness of action, and an individual sense of responsibility? "The question before us is, whether, in conducting our labors for the benefit of mankind, we shall conform ourselves to those unalterable laws of intellectual and mechanical labor, which take their rise from the very nature of the human mind; or set all such methods at defiance, and, contenting ourselves with the consciousness of the purest intentions, and of the utmost possible diligence, shall cast our efforts upon the winds, hoping that Heaven, in its wisdom, will direct them for good."
6. The change which we advocate, would be beneficial in its influence upon the missionaries of the Church, in Foreign Lands; not only those who are already in the field, but those, also, who may hereafter go forth. Let it be, that none of them, until now, has urged the subject upon the attention of the Church. It may he, that it has never occupied their thoughts. But we cannot doubt, that, if their opinions respecting it were requested, they would rise with one voice in its favor. They would rejoice in a change which would bring out the Foreign enterprize, more distinctly and prominently before the Church. They would feel, that the cause which they love above all others, the cause which they have espoused, and to which they have freely given their lives, had been elevated and honored by the change. They would go forward in their holy labors, with new cheerfulness and alacrity. 'Now,' they would say, 'now that the salvation of the unevangelized nations is presented to the Church, as a distinct object of contemplation and endeavor, new compassion in their behalf, will be awakened. Her holy zeal and the free [21/22] offerings of an enlarged love will flow out in deeper and broader streams, that shall cause the wilderness and the solitary place to be glad, and the desert to rejoice and blossom as the rose. And would not the bond of union between them and the Society be drawn more closely and be greatly strengthened? Would they not feel a more intimate sympathy with an Executive Committee and Secretary, devoted exclusively to the work in which they are engaged?
We have considered the question under discussion, mainly in its bearings on Foreign Missions. For that cause alone, was it the design of the writer, to plead. But every argument which has been presented, might be urged, with equal propriety, by one who has devoted himself to the labors of a missionary at home. The interests of Domestic Missions are as deeply involved in the question, as those of Foreign Missions. They would be equally benefited, or injured, by the change. The subject is, therefore, presented with the greater confidence. It is one, which, so far from exciting the spirit of contention, and dividing the Church into parties, should gain from every one who loves the cause of Christ and his Church, a cordial reception. Let it be met in the spirit of amicable inquiry. If the change would be beneficial, every churchman, whichever cause may have his preference, should aid in effecting it. If it would he detrimental, it should be rejected, with equal aversion, by all. Its benefits, or its evils, would be reciprocal.
We have purposely forborne all allusion to the history of the Society. We have aimed to rest the question wholly on principles. The Missionary Enterprize, as well as every other human undertaking, has its principles. They are established on the experience of half a century. To them we make our appeal. It belongs to those, and those only, who possess a practical knowledge of the enterprize, who have studied it as a science, and whose opinions are not merely a priori theories, but deductions from facts in its history, to decide upon the value of our arguments. To their judgment we cheerfully commit our cause. We have endeavored, with prayerful solicitude, to avoid every thing which might be supposed to have a personal bearing. The very discussion of such a subject implies the assumption, that the Society, under its present organization, has not been productive of large results. But it also implies, that this is to be attributed to the causes which have been set forth, and not to the want of ability and faithfulness in the conductors of the Society. Far, far from our thoughts, be an imputation, at once so uncharitable and unjust! If the Society has been inefficient, it is because no human wisdom or zeal could make it otherwise. It does not full within the power of man, to render any instrument effective of an end to which it is intrinsically unadapted.
 In conclusion, if our feeble endeavor shall accomplish no higher end, than to convince a single mind of the vast importance of an efficient instrumentality in the work of Missions, our labor will not have been in vain. Above all human agency, the dependence of the Church must rest on God. But even that dependence is futile, if we neglect the use of adequate and suitable means. In the words of Mr. Orme, the late distinguished Secretary of the London Missionary Society, "If the system we are pursuing be fundamentally defective, then, of course, little good is to be expected from it, and the sooner it is overthrown, the better. Miracles themselves, I conceive, would do little to remedy a fundamentally defective system of operation. They were not intended to remedy or supplement such deficiences at first, and of course, could not do so, were they now restored. But I submit, that only one of two things can render a system of missionary operation fundamentally defective--a deficient or erroneous system of Christianity, as the thing propagated, or the employment of unchristian or unworthy instruments in its propagation. Other errors may affect the degree of success abroad, or the degree of efficiency and comfort in the administration at home; but these evils alone can affect the whole plan and render it finally abortive."