Page images
PDF
EPUB

greater changes in its modes of action. Nearly all our great associated movements have had their origin within the last half century. But the action for which we plead is nothing new; it has been often done in modern times; it was the universal law of the early Church. The first Christians never dreamed of such a thing as a church for the poor, as a separate caste. They did not divide society horizontally; they did not make one class of churches for the fashionable and wealthy, another for a respectable middle class, and a third for the poor. We do not mention this fact for the purpose of maintaining that men have no right to allow their social affinities to exercise any influence in choosing their relations to the congregation and the pastor with whom they will worship in public. We employ the example of the ancient Church merely to protect ourselves against the charge of novelty in commending a voluntary endeavor to extend the Gospel to the unevangelized masses in our great cities in the mode which we have advocated. We are satisfied that the deep concern which is felt for this immense and influential portion of the population of our growing cities will justify the expectation that the Presbyterian Church can raise all the pecuniary means necessary.

To secure the necessary lay agency seems to be a far more difficult work. Men and women can be found who will go forth and labor with great self-denial in our poor mission churches ; they will visit the neglected poor; they will invite the children to the Sunday school; they will procure for them garments when needed; they will teach them the truths of the precious Gospel; but then you must allow them to go back to their own church to worship, to sit in the pew with their own friends, to listen to the voice of their own pastor. You can persuade them to do this good work, but you cannot persuade them to forego these privileges. But we do not ask them to go to a mission-church. We propose to erect a respectable building, to finish it tastefully, to make it every way commodious, to free it from all the degrading associations of debt and poverty; we propose to secure a preacher, not as being a man that can be conveniently obtained for a year, or until a more inviting field is open to him, but a man of promise, that will assume the pastoral charge with the hope and expectation of living and dying

VOL. 1.—29

with his people. It is not a church for the poor in any other sense except that it is in the midst of a population possessing little wealth. But it is adapted to the people of all classes in the vicinity. If there are some that cannot be persuaded to cast in their lot with such a congregation and such a pastor, there are others who will delight in just such relations and such a work. They may not be persons of fashion, or persons who have any special apprehension of losing their social position, but they will be strong-minded, intelligent Christians. The reason for the difficulty in inducing excellent and influential Christian families to connect themselves with our poor congregations is chiefly found in these embarrassments, which forbid the hope of rapid growth and improvement, and the expectation of being supplied with an able and edifying ministry.

The Church, after all, is God's appointed instrumentality in raising men to holiness, happiness and Heaven. No associations, no human contrivances for reaching those that are outside of her pale, are at all equal to the Church's going herself into the midst of them and opening her doors to all, on such terms that all classes may feel themselves cordially invited. If we mistake not, the present age demands a new movement in behalf of the unevangelized masses in our great cities. Police regulations do not meet the wants of society. Eleemosynary institutions, while they relieve present distress, perhaps augment the ills which they alleviate. Radical reforms appeal to the pride of the poorer classes and fill the breasts of many with envious hate. Those who seek to secure an external visible equality disappoint and exasperate the poor. Socialism promises a millennium of blessedness by revolutionizing the structure of society. Infidelity talks of the brotherhood of the species. The Church ought not to be behind in actually doing what all these united voices proclaim as desirable. The Church must not neglect the poor; she must not forget their physical wants; but she must give a paramount importance to that influence which improves the character and thus imparts the power of self-support. In doing this she must use with caution those means which supply spiritual wants without creating spiritual energy and a proper self-reliance. Her best congregations must give origin to other churches of the same stock. If she brings them into being among a poor population, she must see to it that they be not conformed to the squalidness and degradation of poverty and ignorance. She must rather give birth to churches which she will not be ashamed to own as her children; churches that will tend to raise all the poor people which are drawn into their pale to a more honored as well as a better position. The means are abundant. There is benevolence enough to furnish them, if a clear and full conviction that such a movement is desirable be once secured. Those benevolent and self-denying Christians that now labor to carry spiritual supplies to the starving poor, will labor with still greater pleasure if they can raise up churches to which they can invite the poor as participators in the labor, the expense and the independence which they themselves exercise and enjoy.

No Church has greater facilities for performing this work than our own Presbyterian Church in the United States. We have the wealth, the learning, the energy of character necessary for its accomplishment; we can furnish the needful clerical and lay agencies. We have sent our well-furnished scholars, our young men and young women of character, to form themselves into churches, whose numbers are to be mainly swelled from converts out of the lowest castes of India and the savages of the wilderness. The same spirit, if it were properly solicited, will manifest itself in the organization of churches in the districts mainly inhabited by the poor in our great cities. Let the Church project the establishment of such congregations, with such advantages, and the laborers will be readily found. The pastor will be forthcoming from some of our schools of the prophets, and the good work of evangelizing the poor will proceed in such a manner as will show beyond all contradiction that the Church of God gives life and power to the great work of philanthropy.

ARTICLE VI.

1. Cretineau-Joly's History of the Jesuits. Histoire rcligicuse, politique

et literaire de la Compagnie de Jesus. Par J. CRETINEAU-JOLY.

In seven volumes. Paris, 1847. 2. Japan; an account geographical and historical, from the earliest

period &c. down to the present time. By CHARLES MʻFARLANE

Esq. Geo. P. Putnam & Co. New York. 1852. pp. 365. 3. Japan and the Japanese. By TALBOT WELLS, M. D. New

York. J. P. Neagle, 1852. pp. 184.

It is not the object of our Review, though the figure may sound somewhat cruel, so much to dissect dead as living subjects. The fact that a National Expedition, composed it is said, of thirteen vessels, with four thousand men and carrying three hundred and thirty guns, is about to sail to Japan, invests that country, at this moment, with special interest to Americans. The character of the people, their history and their former relations with Christian nations are all matters just now, of enlightened curiosity to our people, for in America the expedition of the Government is the expedition of every individual of the nation.

The Empire of Japan, interesting in various other respects, is peculiarly so from its being the only great nationality from which Christianity, by a settled policy, and as a matter of fact, it wholly excluded. In not one of its thousand isles is there at present room for the foot of a Christian teacher. Among its fifty millions of people we have no reason to suppose that there exists a solitary believer in Christ. By a settled law of the Empire, the profession of Christianity is death. In this respect Japan, it is believed, stands alone. Madagascar, which occupies to Africa the same geographical relation as Niphon to Asia, now welcomes the Gospel even in her high places.

It is a little more than three hundred years since Japan was first visited by the foot of a European ; the Portuguese, the great pioneers of discovery in the sixteenth century, leading the way. No jealousy was felt towards them in Japan, either as foreigners or Christians. The people readily entered into commercial intercourse; Christian missionaries were received without suspicion. The intense hostility of the Japanese to Christianity, and the rigid exclusive policy of the government towards foreigners, grew up in the last quarter of the sixteenth century. It was the result of the efforts of Jesuit missionaries to convert the people to Roman Catholic Christianity. The history of those efforts, with their great temporary success and complete subsequent disaster, is just at present a matter of fresh interest. It might be safely assumed, simply from a general view of modern commercial enterprise, that Japan cannot much longer retain her attitude of rigid separatism. The great trading powers of the earth stand too near to be kept permanently at arms' length. Commerce in the China seas is not what it was in the sixteenth century, the visit once a twelvemonth of a merchant fleet to Batavia, or the Philippines, for pepper and cloves. It is the perpetual presence of an indefatigable marine along every Asiatic coast and at the gates of every harbor, ready to avail itself of each opening, or to make an opening, “aut suavitate aut vi," for the sale of its manufactures.

Besides all this is the special circumstance that Japan lies in the direct line of that great commerce which is opening across the Pacific. With England in possession of the coast of China, and America holding California and Oregon, to say nothing of the Sandwich Islands, the “Gate of the Sun,” as the islanders call their Empire, must open voluntarily or perforce. The time has come for it in the Providence of God. Whether the “ Japan Expedition," ordered by the present administration, sail direct to the islands with a view of opening communication with the Government, or whether resort be had to diplomacy and Dutch intervention, there can be but one result. Christian civilization and commerce has closed upon the Japanese Empire on both sides. It lies between the faces of the two great commercial millstones of the world. Our earnest prayer is that the opening of Japan may be effected by kindness and conciliation; by means that will inspire regard in the natives, and smooth the way for the introduction of Christianity. Of this nature is the humane treatment, and restoration to their homes, of the shipwrecked Japanese who have preceded the expedition.

« PreviousContinue »