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We did not need the suggestive facts set forth cautiously by Dr. Anderson to revert with unaffected sadness to the spectacle presented by the Board in pursuit of funds. It is a most ghastly spectacle for a mind burdened with the thought that every moment souls are sinking into eternal torment. It is fitted to smite such a heart with the most awful doubts of the reality of any conviction or character in his fellow-men, with blank atheism and utter paralysis of the power of faith, unless by the inner light there exist a knowledge of God adequate to sustain the downfall of the whole external edifice of creed and church. But we must not refuse this painful task of pointing out the contrast between the profession of belief in regard to the instant and eternal ruin of souls dying without Christ, and the efforts made in consequence of this belief. Dr. Anderson alludes to "the reluctance with which even good men give their money," and tells us that "the greatest difficulty in propagating the Gospel through the world is believed to be obtaining the funds." Assuming the facts set forth in the Orthodox creed, and speaking after the manner of their own ideas, the devil in the Christian world, as described by the limits of Orthodoxy, is harder to cast out than all the devils of pagan lands. Dr. Anderson refers at some length to the reports of an association embracing sixteen churches in Massachusetts, "as affording means for determining the laws which govern benevolent giving in rural districts." From this we learn that the 2,403 church-members within the limits. of the association are found, by including all subscriptions, collections at the Monthly Concert, &c., to pay "the average annual amount" of $1.36. This was the result of "a plan generally entered upon by the clergy of the association for receiving the regular and systematic contribution of a small stipulated sum from each member of the church"; and the Prudential Committee of the Board "highly approved of this method of increasing and concentrating the benevolent exertions of the professors of godliness, and respectfully suggested the utility and propriety of making it known to ministers of the Gospel extensively." We are authorized to conclude that $1.36 is a larger "average annual amount" than is obtained generally in the country churches. Probably one hundred
cents* - less than the average annual expenditure of the same persons for mere pleasures represents the average desire of "a professor of godliness" out of our cities for the rescue of pagan souls from the certain (?) perils of hell! Dr. Anderson says that "a large part of the subscribers still did but very little," more than one third paying not more in a year than twenty-five cents each "for the conversion of the world"! He also puts the case thus: "The expenditure has been more or less subject to arbitrary limitations, determined by the amount of receipts rather than by the actual necessities of the missions. Who can tell what an amount of good in missions has been thus annually sacrificed? Who has not sympathized with the disappointments and griefs of the missionaries? It is melancholy to think of the waste of influence thus occasioned in the missions since they reached the stages of manifest success. The churches have not seemed prepared for rapid progress. Instead of glad praises to God for thus answering prayer for the extension of His kingdom in foreign lands, the officers of the Board have often been put upon the painful task of showing that they have labored to the utmost to check the speed of their missionary trains." One instance of this is thus alluded to in a quotation from an address of a secretary: "Well did one of the missionaries say, as he disbanded the schools of five thousand children, and let them go back to the embrace of heathenism, What an offering to Swamy!'" We are also told that "the Board has of late years found itself much restricted in the educational department." All this is plain and candid, though we regret to find the senior secretary for the most part silent, and even evasive, in regard to the actual correspondence between the professions and the practice of the patrons of the Board. He repeats the set formula which we have so often heard in missionary meetings, that "no missionary of the Board has ever yet been compelled to retire from the field, or to remain at home, for want of funds." Let this be true in a sense, it is yet calculated to
* Even this estimate must be corrected by the fact that "an inquiry, prosecuted. some twenty years since, made it seem highly probable that not more than two thirds of the church-members, even in the State of Massachusetts, then gave any.... thing for the cause of foreign missions."
VOL. LXXII. — 5TH S. VOL. X. NO. II.
convey the impression that the churches have fully sustained the advance of the missions, a thing which Dr. Anderson has shown us they have not begun to do. It is wholly false to say that, if a missionary gets his personal support, his "wants" as a missionary are supplied, when he cannot go on with the successful conduct of his work. Although Dr. Anderson touches so lightly on the restriction of the Board's operations in the educational department, the fact is a large and startling one; and it was his duty to have given at least a forcible statement of the demands of Christian education, and the necessity of disregarding them for lack of funds. He has heard, as we did, the passionate entreaties of aged missionaries that the schools might be maintained; and if he had not the candor and the courage to state the whole sad case himself, he might at least have solicited a single word from some honored servant of the Board. It is one of the odious elements of the spirit of the Board, that it always strives to make a fair show in the flesh, as if the corporate vanity of the body were a chief motive to be appealed to. The supporters of the Board will not half sustain its operations, and yet they must be continually complimented on their acceptance and employment of all who have offered. The simple fact is, as Dr. Anderson says, "the missions have grown faster than the habit of giving in the churches"; and yet this growth has been greatly hindered in the direction of education, and this giving has not even begun to indicate a genuine belief that money not given sends souls down to eternal hell. We compare these givers with their own creed. They believe a soul saved by conversion. By the statistics of the Board, the average cost of a conversion is not more than one hundred and fifty dollars. Now, if this conversion were such a boon, to be so secured, is it credible that there would not be found in the immense body represented by the Board enough persons able and willing to undertake the ransom of a soul every year to increase several hundred fold the receipts of the Board?
Every means has been resorted to for collecting funds, and yet none can be said to have succeeded. We are told that in the year 1839 the Board declared "that the contributions of the public would not be called forth, unless agents were employed
to make personal applications, and bring the matter home to all classes of people." So early as the year 1823, "an important effort was commenced to systematize and extend the organization for raising funds, which was prosecuted through several successive years. A plan of organization was carefully considered by the Prudential Committee, and published in the Missionary Herald for 1823." Larger auxiliaries to the number of "near fifty," and smaller associations to the number of about sixteen hundred, were formed. Of the latter, 923 were of men and 680 of women. "The main object of this local organization was to secure the annual appointment of a sufficient number of collectors, male and female, to present the application to every suitable person within the limits of the association." "After the lapse of twelve or fifteen years," says Dr. Anderson, "it was found that remittances were made by only one fourth of the men's associations, while more than two thirds of the associations composed wholly of women gave proof of an actual and healthful existence." More than half of these agencies died wholly, it appears, and we may infer that the causes which thus operated abated one half the efficiency of those which continued to remit signs of life. And yet Dr. Anderson, after explaining that the system "naturally suffered from the lapse of time," but "more from the fact that other benevolent societies, seeing its efficacy [!], had adopted it in many places," thus bringing "the use of collectors into disrepute," cannot close the paragraph without the comfortable and inconsistent statement, that "the system still exists substantially, and works to general satisfaction." It would be a curious problem to calculate how much failure would put an end to this smooth culture of corporate selfconceit. The Unitarian body, if it does forever criticise itself before the world, is at least free from this resolute content with the most ghastly failure. For our part, we do not desire its organizations and its members to resolve themselves into a mutual admiration society while redemption is but begun in the world. A state of honest self-reproach is preferable to the condition of "elevated Christian enjoyment" for which the Board so vigorously thanks God. Going up to the temple to pray thus is not the sum of Christian duty, however comfortable it may be.
Dr. Anderson goes on to inform us that hardly were these organizations effected before the Board was moved to the following action, clearly indicating an early apprehension of failure. A committee on the duties of the members of the Board reported that this plan of raising funds was "the most simple, effective, and desirable that had been devised for this purpose; that all previous measures had been abandoned as unsatisfactory, and that the most serious ill consequences were to be apprehended should the favor of the community toward the auxiliary societies be lost, or in any great degree diminished"; and they recommended making it the duty of the corporate members of the Board to attend the anniversary meetings of the auxiliaries, upon the requisition of the Prudential Committee and at the expense of the Board, as also the calling upon honorary members for a like service. This course was adopted, and the result is thus stated: "Historical truth requires the admission, that far less came from these proceedings of the Board than was anticipated by the remarkable man with whom they originated, Josiah Bissell, Jr., and by those kindred spirits who acted with him." If historical truth forces this "admission" of the failure of agencies which the Board paid its own members to look after, what might not appear upon a free and candid recital of the results of the Board's system! Dr. Anderson's chapter on the agencies concludes as follows: "The entire cost of the Agency - that is, of all the means for cultivating the missionary spirit in the churches and procuring the funds has been between six and one third and six and one half per cent on the gross receipts. Who that has had experience of the reluctance with which even good men give their money, will not have a feeling of gratitude that the cost has been no more?"
The effort of the Board to save itself is one means which has been used to augment its receipts. If the Board is in peril from large and increasing debt, there is an access of energy in its members and agencies which the bare and trite idea of saving souls does not produce. Dr. Anderson says: "It is believed to be a fact, that the great permanent advances in the receipts of the Board all stand in immediate connection with its larger debts, and would seem to have resulted from the