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cially where the helper does not possess the capacity of leading the tune. It suffices for the helper to offer up a short appropriate prayer for spiritual aid at the commencement, and for the blessing of God at the close of each successive meeting.
* 7. The Sabbath afternoon, especially where there is no service in the chapel, is the best period for holding these meetings. At that time servant maids, apprentices, journeymen, and workmen of all kinds, are at leisure, and in a state of mental repose to listen to instruction. This season is, on other grounds both strong and weighty, the proper period for their convention.
*8. Pastors who do not preach in the afternoon shall, according as health and strength may permit, visit these meetings in order, once a quarter, and converse individually with the members of the class, on the state of their hearts and views, and the ground of their hope.
• 9. The helpers of the districts shall be specially appointed as superintending visitors of these classes each set of helpers limiting their labour of love to such classes as are held within their own district. They shall visit in rotation; and the congregational helper shall always be apprized of his intended visit. The visiting helper shall always remain the whole time with the classes, otherwise he will but distract the business, and the end of his visit will be defeated; he shall engage a part of that time, after the business of instruction is terminated, in suitable conversation, endeavouring to encourage the class, and to hold up the hands of the helper, and he shall then conclude the meeting with prayer. These visits shall be arranged according to a plan, that they may be paid at proper distances, and with due regularity; this shall constitute a part of the monthly business of the district.
• 10. A box of appropriate tracts and books shall be deposited in the class-room, and placed under the care of the helper, not to give but to lend to the individuals who compose his class. These books the helper shall give out according to the circumstances of his class, and,
when they are returned, endeavour to ascertain whether the parties have read, understood, and profited by them.
11. In these classes, each sex shall, of course, meet apart ; and, in the arrangement, due regard shall be had to standing in society, both as to the helper and the individuals composing the class. For the female classes it would be desirable to train a body of superior female helpers; till that can be done we may use the services of grave married men.
• 12. In addition to these general classes---into which all practicable and proper methods shall be earnestly employed to press every seatholder and hearer in the congregation—there shall be at least two special classes, one for each sex, to meet also on the Sabbath afternoon, and to be composed of persons drafted from the general classes, who are deemed to be in an awakened and decidedly hopeful state. These shall be designated the Pastor's Classes, and be under his more immediate charge, while each of them shall also, nevertheless, have its own proper helper. Let the pastor's wife, if duly qualified, and it be otherwise convenient, meet the female class, and a person of the first ability that can be procured, meet the other; and let the pastor himself be present, at least a part of the time, as often as possible. These two classes shall be understood to constitute the door of the fellowship. To them, therefore, all applicants for membership-of whose immediate fitness there is the least doubt-shall be uniformly transmitted, that they may enjoy its benefits, and be further tested as to their real spiritual condition. -Jethro, pp. 247-251.
The fourth department, and the last which we shall notice, (the fifth relates to villages,) is the population in the vicin
• Our plan for evangelizing the vicinage population of large towns comprises four parts: tract distribution-domestic exposition-moveable meetings for conference, exhortation, and prayer—and district preaching. This fourfold instrumentality, if wisely and devoutly wielded, will be found equal to every purpose of gospel diffusion.
• First. Tract distribution. The first point is one of the utmost importance-the character of the visitors. The visitors, then, must be a superior description of persons. It is their province to lead the way for one class of labourers, to provide materials for another, and to aid all. It shall be an especial part of their business to canvass for the Sunday-schools attached to the chapel, and also for the theological classes. They must use every effort to bring all the children to the former, and all the young persons, of both sexes, to the latter-they must press the adults to attend the domestic meetings now to be specified, and the chapel services--they must visit the sick, comfort the mourner, and speak for Christ, as opportunity offers. • Second. Domestic exposition.
1. As a first step, the minister shall assemble all those members whom he considers qualified for expositors; when he shall consult with them about the contiguous locality to be chosen as the field of systematic labour, and converse freely over the nature and importance of the undertaking:
• 2. The minister, in the meanwhile, shall prepare and publish a simple and affectionate address to the surrounding inhabitants generally, avowing the earnest desire of himself and his people to promote their best interests-setting forth the leading objects which it is proposed to accomplish-and detailing, in the most forcible and engaging manner, the importance of meetings for domestic exposition, together with the manifold advantages arising from them. A copy of this address shall then be presented to every householder of the locality marked out for occupation.
"3. The minister, shortly after, shall proceed in person, accompanied by a friend, to visit every house, and to converse with its inmates on the subject of the address previously transmitted. He shall also en. deavour to ascertain the general condition of the locality with respect to religion, and the feelings of the inhabitants towards the proposed plan. He shall, at the same time, try to procure rooms for the purpose of the intended meetings.
•4. Having secured such rooms, let him fix upon one of the best, in point of size and situation, for the commencement of operations, next Sabbath afternoon. On the Saturday one or two discreet persons shall call upon thirty or forty of the individuals residing in the immediate neighbourhood, to apprize them of the hour of meeting, and to invite their attendance.
5. On the following Sabbath afternoon, at the appointed time, the minister, accompanied by a few of the persons about to act as expositors, shall repair to the room. The pastor shall then commence by a few free and friendly observations, after which he shall read a suitable portion of scripture, and one of the expositors shall offer up prayer. Let the pastor next proceed with a homely, affectionate exposition of the passage which has been read, giving it a pointed and pathetic application to all present, introducing some pertinent anecdotes, and closing with a short prayer.
6. Before separating the pastor shall express the satisfaction he feels at having met such as have assembled, and intimate that the exercise will be resumed next Lord's-day, when the appointed expositor will commence his labour of love. He may also request, for the convenience of the visitors and for the encouragement of the expositor, that all present will give their names and addresses in token of approbation. He shall then put the list into the hands of the expositor, as an act which constitutes him the manager of the meeting.
• 7. There shall be, at least, two visitors attached to the expositor. They also shall have a list of those who have professed adherence, that they may visit them more frequently, cultivate a friendly feeling among them, and, as a means to this important end, supply them with tracts and books ; that they may, as much as possible, prevent any of them from falling away, and at the same time press on the work of the Lord among them.
* 8. After a few Sabbaths, when confidence is somewhat established, the expositor may proceed to use greater freedom with the company, which will at once endear him and profit them. He may request some of the younger and better educated to read the chapter at the commencement. From this he may, at length, put a simple question to some of the more intelligent. He
may then request all who can read to bring their bibles. He may thus by little and little advance upon them, until the meeting shall grow up into a well-conducted bible class.'—Jethro, pp. 262—268.
Our extracts have been more extended than we could have wished, but it would have been impossible for us otherwise to have answered our purpose: and now that we have presented to our readers a plan of such novelty and magnitude, we should allow them to pause a few moments, perhaps, before we ask them what they think of it. Or, if they retort upon us, and say that we, being by profession reviewers, and having had moments not a few to make up our minds on the subject, ought to give them our opinion, we answer with perfect frankness and sincerity as follows.
We see, then, in this System of Lay Agency, much to be admired. The spirit and design of the propounder of it are highly worthy of commendation, and, undoubtedly, it could not be wrought out in Christian devotedness without producing estensive and important benefits. We suspect, however, that it will make very dissimilar impressions on the minds of different per
Some ardent and zealous spirits may be prompted to es. claim, “This is the plan! Thank God I have lived to see the day when it has been propounded ! Only let this be carried out, and we shall soon see England evangelized.' We can imagine others gravely pondering this matter, and concluding their meditations with a shake of the head which says too plainly to be misunderstood, “This is too bad. It can never be done. It is altogether utopian.' For ourselves we think we must select a place between these two parties. However we may practically shrink from the unwonted exertions to which this writer invokes us, we may not--and we will not attempt it-justify a reluctance to labor, or yield any thing to mere hypothetical difficulties, conceived to lie in a path we have made no effort to pursue. To every allegation that what he recommends cannot be done, the author is fully entitled to answer, Try: if all cannot be done, a part may; and, at all events, much more can be done than is as yet attempted. We think, indeed, that he estimates the resources of our churches rather high. He reckons that a church of six hundred members would furnish at least fifty domestic expositors; that is to say, that every twelfth member of a church is qualified to conduct domestic exposition of the scriptures—and this, after he has taken out of it a prior twelfth, a first fifty of its ablest men, for district and congregational helpers and other officers. We are happy to think that he has found any church of Christ, his experimental acquaintance with which authorizes him to rate the qualifications of others so high. But, even if he have overrated them, it remains beyond question that there are in the churches men, and those not a few, who could do much of what is here laid down, and who ought to do it. There are interesting cases in which such exertions are begun, and we should be very sorry to say a single word that could discourage them, or to fail of contributing our slender share to their enlargement. In a similar strain we should remark upon the very obvious objections which may be started, as to the expense involved in providing so many rooms, libraries, &c., and the impossibility of persons in business attending so many meetings. There is force, no doubt, in these objections ; but they amount to nothing as reasons why people should not do all they can. The sum of them is, that the attempt to execute such a plan will be attended with difficulties. Of course it will; and we can meet
this wise saw by another, at least equally true, namely, that those who do not try will never overcome them.
After all that we have said in commendation, however, we must add that we have our objections too, although of another class. To this System of Lay Agency, as a system, we cannot give in our adhesion. Our points of difference shall be stated.
In the first place, we cannot concur in what our author calls the governing principle of his system. He would have every thing done by the churches. If this means any thing-any thing at least that we can understand—it means, that all evangelical movements' shall be considered and decided at church meetings, and all matters and questions relating to them brought for determination before the same assembly, either by direct proposition, or ultimately by reports of responsible committees. We find it difficult to believe that any person acquainted with our churches, and calling to mind for a moment the elements which constitute them, can affirm them to be well adapted to such deliberations. If the author means, however, as, from subsequent passages, pp. 351, 357, we suspect he does,) that the pastor alone, or together with the deacons or with officers known by any other name, should plan and determine, and that the church at large should only do their bidding without participating in the deliberations, we think he uses language in a sense in which it will not be generally understood ; nor can we see what advantage such a method can be supposed to possess over those above which he exalts it.
Secondly. We dislike the tone of dictation and authority in which the whole plan is conceived. This is continually breaking out in the phraseology employed. "The members of the district shall each subscribe at least one penny a week,' &c. It is to be expressly understood that every member shall use the library, “and means shall be taken ... to see that they profit by it.' With us this language almost provokes a smile ; but we refrain from any indulgence of levity on a serious subject. The subject, however, is not only serious, but important. In a later chapter, in which he treats of the governing principle relative to agents,' the author, with much caution, lets us into the whole of his views on it, by quoting with approbation some passages from the Scotch First Book of Discipline, and printing in capitals the following significant passage.
· For no man may be permitted as best pleaseth him to live within the kirk of God, but every man must be constrained, by fraternal admonition and correction, to • bestow his labours, when of the kirk he is required, to the • edification of others.'--p. 290. The members of our churches will here see what kind of a rod would be held over them if the author of Jethro were in Moses' seat. Earnestly as we wish every member of a church to be active to the utmost of his