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LETTER FROM ST. LOUIS. DURING the late discussion at Lexington, many of the brethren were present from every part of the state, and the adjacent states; and it was resolved to hold social meetings on the afternoon of each day, for mutual edification and profit, and for the advancement of the great cause of the reformation.
At one of those meetings, a free conversation was in. dulged in on the subjects of evangelical operations, and the financial concerns of the churches. The article following, with the letter from St. Louis, were read by elder J. T. Johnson. Upon which it was unanimously approved by the brethren then present; and a resolution was adopted requesting the publication of the production and letter :
St. Louis, Sep, 23, 1843. To John T. Johnson and John Smith, elders in the
Christian church :DEARLY beloved and highly esteemed brethren “in the kingdom and patience of Jesus Christ.”
We thank God upon every remembrance of you, and the pious disciples of Kentucky, who co-operated with you in your late visit to St. Louis. The undersigned take great pleasure in stating that they were, on the part of the
congregation worshipping in this place, appointed a committee for the purpose of communicating to you, and through you to them, an expression of gratitude for your efficient and sig, wally successful effort to proclaim the gospel in its purity in this city. Beloved, the effort was no less beneficial to us than it was creditable to you, and triumphantly glorious, to Prince Messiah. We could then have been compared to "the grain of mustard seed,” (sown) which is the least of all seeds, but we rejoice to tell you that, in addition to those that joined during your stay, our number has been greatly increased; while personal piety, Christian intelligence, union, and love, have been the distinguishing characteristics of those professing the faith in this important field of labour. We say important field of labour because it is large, “white unto harvest, and the labourers but few.” This people is. decidedly a church-going people ; though from extensively
circulated falsehoods, touching the Ancient Gospel Restored, there appeared for a season a great difficulty to obtain a hearing; but “ Truth is plighty and will prevail.” Since your departure we have been favoured with a call from Jacob Creath, junior, a man of God, calculated alike to stop the mouth of the gainsayer, and to feed the flock of Christ : as also a somewhat protracted stay of our youthful brother Hopson, whose labours as an evangelist were rendered a great blessing, but since he left, some six weeks ago, we have been destitute of the gospel, though they who believed and were baptized "continue steadfastly in the apostles' doctrine and fellowship, and in breaking of bread and in prayers." Our situation is known to you, dear brethren, and we shall rejoice to be able to say (in St. Louis), “to the poor the gospel is preached." From present indications we have the most sanguine hope the result will enable us to communicate the gospel to perishing thousands.
If, in the providence of God, it could be so arranged that you, or such other two brethren as you may see proper to send could come about the middle of next month (October), we will receive them with joy, as messengers from God. We are the more confident in this appeal, from your former manifestation of love, and the fact of your intimate acquaintance with our situation. Though our number is increased we are poor in regard to this world's goods, and are unable to support an evangelist at this time. We know your labours of love, and that you cease not to pray for us; therefore come, in the Saviour's name, once more to St. Louis.
You may come weeping and mourning on account of sin; but you will return rejoicing, bearing with you abundance of golden sheaves. Yours, in a peaceful gospel,
R. B. FIFE,
FINANCES OF THE CHURCHES. What system, if any, has been enacted by the Apostles o the Lord to govern the church in her financial concerns ?
The stability, the prosperity, and the growth of the church is identified with the question at the head of this article; and yet it seems to have been avoided more than all others. Are we afraid of ourselves ? Are we afraid of each other? Or, are
we afraid of being called money lovers ? Whatever may be the cause, we ought to dismiss all mock inodesty or fear, and ascertain, if possible, what the Lord requires at our hands in respect to the pecuniary concerns of the church. So far as I am concerned, I have resolved, in all affection, to devote an essay or two to this subject, in the hope that the result may prove beneficial to all the brotherhood. This subject, more than all others, is calculated to develop the spirit by which the present Christian community is animated. If you touch the money of the miser you touch his soul; yea, his god : more especially if you adopt means calculated to expose himn; whereas, the person whose heart has been touched by the love of the Saviour, unbosoms himself to the world, and most humbly and gratefully asks, “ Lord, whát wilt thou have me do ?"
The present confused, unjust, and unequal state of things, where a perfect system of justice and equality ought to prevail, has clipped the wings of the church and confined her to the earth. What are the contributions on Lord's day? Is there
any system, any equality ? Has it not become a mere formal matter of about five cents each, whether rich or poor; and that confined to less than a score, out of a hundred or more members ?
How much better are the subscription papers that are cir. culated amongst the members, when a given amount of noney is to be raised ? The sum is raised; but what proportion of the members contribute ? and what equality prevails with those who have contributed ? These questions are enough to sicken the generous-hearted Christian; yea, the philanthropist, wherever found.
But what can be done to remedy these evils ? By way of preinises, let it noted, that the monied concerns of the church may be embraced in four general items.
First. The expenses of the church in respect to her internal concerns.
Second. The relief of the poor and destitute.
Third. The spread of the gospel by means of evangelists and otherwise.
Fourth. All other calls of necessity:
Now, the first question that arises is this:-How much shall be raised ? In order to answer this, the field to be occupied and cultivated must be viewed, and the means of the church considered. There can be no dispute that the object to be accomplished calls for the utmost stretch of our benevolence. Let us then, endeavour to ascertain the scriptural demand, if any has been made. This being done, it is presumed that no citizen of the kingdom would hesitate as to duty. It is required of a man according to what he has. And as the Lord loves a cheerful giver, so he has required of ns to give (cheerfully) as he has prospered or given to us. We are stewards of his, and must improve the talent he has given us. We are most positively forbidden to amass treasures upon the earth. We are, therefore, to keep what we have in actual employment in doing good.
What proportion of the means with which we are blessed shall be devoted to the cause? We may not be able to determine this point with mathematical certainty, but every lover of the cause, whose soul is imbued with a desire for the conversion of the world, and whose mind is properly instructed in these matters, in a word, whose affections are supremely set upon heavenly things, may come to a safe conclusion. If I am worth a thousand dollars, would it be oppressive to give three dollars per annum for the advancement of the eternal interests of mankind ? Would it be too much for the member worth five thousand dollars to give fisteen; or for a member worth ten thousand dollars to give thirty ? In general such a donation to the cause would not be felt; or, if felt, it would be to the generous contributor as the saviour of life, unto life. Such a system as this, if practised, would soon bear the gospel over America and Europe. The present poor, pitiful state of things is enough to make the Christian blush and hide his head. Look at the noble, generous-hearted Christians at Jerusalem ; they gave all into the apostle's hands. These distributed to every one as they needed. When this becanje too burdensome to the apostles the church singled out seven men, whose office it was to attend to those temporalities, &c. Ananias and Sapphira concealed a part of theirs, and were struck dead. Let us take care how we conceal or draw back from duty. But what general system would embrace the principles laid down by the aposiles ? I will suggest one to which I am willing to yield.
First. Let the elders and deacons chosen by the congregation be the committee to raise and disburse the funds.
Second. Let the names of the members be arranged in alphabetical order.
Third. Let each member promptly furnish the committee the value of their estate.
Fourth. Let the congregation determine by theinselves, as a body, or by their committee, what sum shall be raised to accomplish the objects set forth, as far as practicable.
Fifth. Let the committee ascertain, at an equal rate, what each member has to pay, and affix it to his or her name.
Sixth. Let the members be furnished with their quota in writing.
Seventh. Let the payments be made in monthly proportions.
Eighth. Let the payments be made to the treasurer of the committee without a collector.
Ninth. Let the committee disburse all the funds as they are demanded by the exigencies as they arise.
Tenth. Let the reports of the committee be made in writing to the church quarterly.
Eleventh. Let those who cannot percieve the propriety of this measure bear with those who prefer its adoption.
Twelfth. Let those who prefer to aid by subscription or otherwise do so.
It might be objected that any fixed system, such as the one suggested, would operate injuriously in many cases. This will not be denied. But how easy to avoid such injury, if the injured person would make his case known. Again : it might be objected, that some of the sisters, whose husbands are not converted, would be excluded from this arrangement. By no means. Would not any high-minded, honourable husband desire his wife to conform to her profession, and sustain it to the extent of her means ? And as the wife would, by law, be entitled to the one-third of his estates, in case of death, would he not be willing to furnish her the means to that extent? But if not, the matter would have to rest there. But enough : I cannot at present conceive of any sound objection. I believe that good persons may at first blush, and object for fear of consequences. But the objectors in general will be those who do least for the cause, and are ashamed to practice according to a system that will expose their covetousness.
Covetousness is said to be idolatry. It is a most grievous