« AnteriorContinuar »
63. Their 'audience would be more numerous, as their meetings would be at regular and stated times, and seasonable information could be given.
664. Error might be more successfully opposed, and truth more effectually supported, by those who are constantly among the people.
“5. Local missionarics would have opportunity to water the seed which appeared to take root, to instruct those who were brought to embrace the gospel, to establish the wavering, and to find out those who were proper subjects for admission into the communion of the churches.
56. Such missionaries would have a general care of the churches in their circuit and vicinity, and would be at hand to advise and assist in discipline, and to administer the ordinances in a stated and regular manner.
€67. More labour may be obtained with the same funds, from local, than from itinerant missionaries.
«8. In this way, people may be led into the practice, and established in the habit, of doing something for the regular support of the gospel.
“9. Local missionaries, it is expected, will eventually become settled ministers, and be wholly taken off from being an expense to the Society, which might then be able to employ others at other stands, and thus ultimately occupy the whole ground.
“10. Locating missionaries would lead to the practice of settling ministers over two or three Societies, which appears to be the only way in which they can be settled, in many parts of this District.
“ It is always desirable that the missionaries should be sta. tioned where there is a gospel church, if such arrangements can be made. And it is expected that those Societies, with whom he labours, will contribute something towards his support. Indeed we think it important to induce all, who are in any measure able, to do something towards supporting the gospel
among themselves ; and that it will be best to encourage them to make every reasonable effort, by giving assistance to those, who appear willing to do most for themselves. ..
"With this view of the subject before us, we are of the opinion, that it would be highly serviceable to the interest of religion, to divide this District into sections or stands, and to have a good man placed as a missionary in each. And we are fully convinced that, if all those Societies, who are turning their benevolent attention to this quarter, would adopt the measure, and locate the greater part of their missionaries, we should soon see the most happy effects produced. Indeed we must hope that this will soon be the case.
“Could fifteen or sixteen missionaries be judiciously placed in this District, they would command the whole ground, and be able statedly to minister the gospel of salvation, to the greater part of those, who are perishing for the word of life. And could men of real piety, of christian zeal, and sound in the faith, be placed at different stands, we are persuaded the people would readily contribute to their support. Admitting that little would be contributed in some places, there would be considerable in others; and it is extremely important to lead peo. ple into the practice of supporting religion among themselves. For it is to be hoped that some extensive good may grow from small beginnings, and that when the habit is formed, they will continue in it.
[Here follows a description of 30 sections of missionary circuits, in which he proposes to divide the District of Maine, and to have for the present, one missionary occupy two of these circuits. He supposes that on this plan 15 missionaries may receive half their annual support from the people to whom they minister ; and that 3000 dollars, in addition, from all the Missionary Societies in Massachusetts, would be sufficient to complete it... He then asks.]
“Can any one believe that the transient labours of all the present itinerant Missionaries are so important, as the stated labours of fifteen good Missionarjes would be? Will not the Society for Propagating the Gospel give the subject a candid examination, and make a fair experiment? Should the Society think proper to send on one, two, three, or more, godly and zealous Missionaries, we will cheerfully assist in establishing them. Or if they think proper to make use of us, as the hand to appropriate their charity, we will endeavour to procure such Missionaries, and station them at such places, as we find to be the most promising.
“At present, we are not able to give you any information respecting the establishment of schools. Should we be so happy as to see the different missionary stands once occupied by good men, we should then be able to form a much better judgment on this subject.
“ We believe there never has been a greater call for mission. ary exertions, nor a more hopeful prospect of their usefulness. And we do ardently hope that our Lord Jesus Christ, the Great Head of the church, will make use of the Society for Propagating the Gospel, and other Missionary Societies, as instruments of building up his kingdom in this part of the land ; and that all who are heartily engaged in this good work, will have abun. dant reason to rejoice in the prosperity of Zion, and share in all her glory. 6 In behalf of the Maine Missionary Society.
“ E. GILLET, Secretury. “ Hallowell, July 15, 1808.”
The Rev. Mr. Bailey of New Castle, in a letter to the Secretary, strongly recommends the plan of stationary missionaries.
A communication from the “ Evangelical Missionary Soci. ety,” containing a “ Report of the Rev. Mr. Puffer," one of their missionaries, is decidedly in favour of a similar plan. We with pleasure extend the information contained in this judi. cious and interesting Report, by publishing from it the following extracts.
“As respects the means of common instruction, the people among whom I have sojourned are not deficient. Schools are regularly established ; and the sums annually granted for the education of youth are very considerable. I have likewise remarked a becoming regard to regularity, industry, frugality, and peace. Indeed, with few exceptions, the moral and social habits of the people may be pronounced good.
“But notwithstanding I am bound in justice to speak thus favourably of the state of society, yet I am constrained to add, that religious institutions have not received the attention they merit, and which might have been expected from a people in other respects deserving commendation. Few towns have settled ministers, or are regularly supplied with preaching, though from the wealthy appearance made by some of them, they may be thought fully competent to the expense.
66 To account for this fact, our attention is invited back to the first settlers. These were composed of emigrants from various parts not only of this, but of foreign countries, who bringing with them their local prejudices and habits, were in. disposed for the exercise of that mutual condescension, which constitutes the basis of religious union. For though necessity obliged them to unite for other purposes, in religion it produced no such effect. It is moreover observable that the course of life generally adopted by the first inhabitants, while it retarded the growth of the country, produced likewise a coldness towards the institutions of religion, the effects of which are but too visible at the present day.
“Of late, serious attempts have been made to remedy this evil. Societies have been formed, and missionaries sent forth to labour in this hitherto neglected part of the vineyard. But as the zeal of sending the gospel to their destitute brethren has not been confined to christians of any denomination, the con. sequence has been, that while their missionaries were exerting themselves to propagate and defend each his own peculiar scheme of sentiment, subsisting divisions have been strengthen.
ed, and that union obstructed, which was necessary to the introduction of a regular christian ministry.
66 Far am I from throwing an unkind reflection on chris. tians of any denomination, or of denying that even from this state of things much good has arisen. All, I charitably belieye, have been actuated by the purest motives for the promotion of christian knowledge and piety; and the labours of all, in a greater or less degree, have been owned and blessed by the great Head of the church. Unusual attention to religion has appeared in various places, and many have been hopefully con. verted from the error of their ways to the wisdom of the just. Nothing can bode worse to religion than a dead calm. That which tends to remove the torpor, and rouse the mind to reflec. tion, must be acknowledged useful. While therefore, in one form or another, Christ has been preached, and sinners called to repentance, the sincere friends of vital piety do and will rejoice. Still, however, it should be the aim of every Mission. ary Society to improve their plan of instruction, and render it as little objectionable as possible.
" The usual method has been to circulate missionaries through a large extent of territory, who passing rapidly from place to place, have afforded to vast numbers, in their retired solitary dwellings, an opportunity of hearing the word of God. This perhaps in the interior parts, where are only a few scat. tered inhabitants may be the best method that can be at present adopted. But surely it ought not to be exclusively pursued. In some respects it is obviously defective. It begins much, but matures nothing. The impression is transient, through want of being followed up by repeated instruction. The good seed is scattered in many places ; but it is either left to perish, or becomes unfruitful, because after cultivation is not applied. The faithful missionary exerts unwearied zeal and diligence ; but little fruit of his labours remains, owing to their having been extended over so wide a surface. To produce permanent