« AnteriorContinua »
the word is preached, the church is formed, and its members are associated in unity. On the whole, therefore, it will be apparent that nothing could have been more suitable than the course of meditation with which the church was occupied, in the prescribed subjects of the several discourses. It was felt to be so at the time; and it is our earnest prayer that the word of the Lord, which was then delivered, shall not return to him void, but that it shall accomplish that which he pleases, and prosper in the thing whereunto he has sent it. The attendance upon every discourse was numerous, and the attention marked and devout.
Besides the several discourses that were delivered, several resolutions, of much importance, were adopted, all of which were earnestly and ably supported by the several members who had been appointed to speak to them. We can at present do little more than transcribe these.
1.-“That whilst it the duty of the Church to act upon the Lord's injunction, Go ye out unto all the world, and preach the Gospel to every creature,” we regret that this Synod has not obeyed it to that extent which its importance demanded; yet we rejoice in the spirit of Missiopary enterprize so visibly on the increase throughout our bounds.",
How amazing and humiliating to think that this injunction of the Saviour should ever have been disregarded by the church! Yet where is the church that, in these times, seems to feel itself charged with this responsibility ? The churches are, indeed, beginning to awake to some just sense of their missionary character and obligation; yet it is only beginning. We do not, however, despise the day of small things; and we rejoice to contemplate the position which has been taken by our own beloved Zion.
2.--"That in obeying this injunction, it is particularly the duty of every Church to direct ber speeial regards to the condition of her members, who may be destitute of, or inadequately supplied with, Gospel ordinances; and as it appears that this is the condition of Presbyterians (generally natives of Ulster or Scotland), scattered through the South and West, we feel bound, not only to continue our present Missionary operations, but to enlarge and extend them, till all our people may be blessed with the ministrations of the Word of Life."
There are few parts of Ireland throughout which there are not to be found a few scattered Presbyterians. Generally their religious state is very melancholy. Long neglected by those who should have cared for them, they have, in many instances, fallen into the utmost carelessness and sinfulness. Some of them attend at no place of worship; and it is to be feared that the connexions by marriage and otherwise with the
Roman Catholic population, have led away a large proportion of the descendants of our brethren in those places into all the abominations of Popery. So long as any Presbyterian shall be left unsought and uncared for, we hold that guilt attaches to our church. “ He that provideth not for his own, and especially for those of his own household, hath denied the faith, and is worse than an infidel.”
3.-“That while we rejoice in the decision of last General Synod, to ordain ministers in permanent stations in the South and West of Ireland, and guarantee them a support, we further conceive, that it is agreeable to the Apostolic model, and would be conducive to the interests of religion, that the Synod should ordain Missionaries to itinerate in neglected districts, and supply them with Christian ordinances.”
The Presbyterians in the different districts are not sufficiently numerous to allow of the formation of congregations in them all. Yet this is no reason why they should be neglected. If no more can be done, there should at least be a missionary for each county, who shall have it in charge to discover all the Presbyterians resident in it, and give them such instruction as may be in his power. The minister of Lismore las already acted in this manner, and the accounts of his labours and success are the most cheering. He has discovered, we believe, several thousand Presbyterians; and some of these travel twenty miles to his church on sacramental occasions.
4.-“That, as it was once the laudable custom of this Church, to encourage qualified Ministers to preach the Gospel in the Irish language ; and as we acknowledge, with sorrow, that this duty has long been culpably neglected, yet, while we rejoice in the success of those Societies which are engaged in disseminating religious instruction throughout the kingdom, in the Irish tongue, this Synod resolve to resume the former practice of our Church, by assisting in the circulation of the Irish Scriptures-sending out Ministers qualified to preach in Irish—and encouraging our Students to acquire a knowledge of that language.
“ That the Rev. Dr. Macleod be requested to supply our station in Galway for three weeks, and itinerate in its neighbourhood or elsewhere, for the purpose of preaching in Irish ; and thåt, at his return, the Directors of the Missionary Society be summoned to receive his report, and confer with him on the best means of providing for the extension of religious knowledge through the medium of the Irish language : and further, that the Directors be empowered, immediately after, to take such measures as may be deemed advisable for carrying into effect the last resolution adopted at our meeting yesterday.”
There are at least two millions of people in Ireland to whom the Irish is the mother tongue. Their prejudice for it is so strong, that they will be delighted to learn to read it, though careless about an English education ; and they will greedily read the Irish Scriptures, when they would cast the English
Bible away. An anecdote related by one of the speakers at the late meeting, will illustrate this. A beggar went into a farmer's while the farmer was reading a portion of the English Testament aloud. He listened to it, but seemed uninterested. The farmer having finished the passage, laid down the English and took up the Irish Testament. He began to read in it the same passage again. The beggar took off his hat, kneeled upon the floor, and, with the utmost reverence, listened until the whole was finished. On being asked why he showed so much preference for the Irish Testament, he replied, My ear heard the English, but my heart heard the Irish.” Now it is the duty of the church to take advantage of this prejudice. The Synod have accordingly sent out an accomplished Irish scholar to investigate the state of the country; and, as soon as he returns, a committee has been appointed to confer with him, and adopt some permanent measures for the instruction of the Irish in their own tongue.
5.-" That, for the purpose of accomplishing these objects, the Synod: enjoins the several Presbyteries under its care, to make increased exertions to raise funds-to report annually their proceedings in behalf of the Synod's Missions—and that deputations be sent to Scotland and England, to solicit aid from our brethren in those countries."
As yet nothing has been done by the church, in the raising of funds, at all proportioned to its duty and the emergency
of the case. Every congregation should forth with adopt some energetic measures for this purpose. Let a committee be appointed, and let it be explained and understood, that every communicant in the church should do something for the extension of its principles. This, besides helping forward a most important cause, will reflect great blessedness on the church itself, begetting and cherishing a spirit of liberality which will be well-pleasing in the sight of its Great Head, and bring down his enriching blessing. In nothing does the church more need reformation than in the spirit of liberality, and in pecuniary contribution.
6.-" That, as the Holy Spirit alone can render our exertions effectual, in the conversion of sinners, it be earnestly recommended to all our congregations to hold stated meetings for prayer, that the Spirit may be poured from on high on our Missionary operations; and that on the first Sabbath of January, when the annual collections are taken up on behalf of the Society, our Ministers be requested to preach on the subjects embraced in this Resolution."
It is to be hoped this arrangement will be carefully observed by both ministers and people. The subject is not sufficiently understood or considered, and should therefore be explained
and enforced. The duty and efficacy of prayer are little known. O! if the church could only be brought to abound in supplication, the blessed consummation of the redemption of the world would soon be effected. It is prayer that has ever brought down the effusion of the Spirit, and so shall it continue to be until the kingdoms of this world become the kingdoms of our God and of his Christ.
7.-“That whilst this Church acknowledges the special duty of preaching the Gospel in our native country, we nevertheless feel the obligation of extending our Missionary operations to other lands, and cannot separate without recording our deliberate opinion, that, though the attempt may be difficult, and has been hitherto untried, except through the medium of other Missionary Societies, it is within the power of this Church, by the Divine blessing, to carry into effect so important and desirable an object: we therefore request the Presbytery of Dublin to prepare a plan for the formation of a Foreign Missionary Society, in connexion with this Church, to be laid before the next annual meeting of Synod.”
The church is a missionary establishment for the evangelization of the world. By its exertions the nations are to be redeemed. Never, therefore, will it have discharged the sacred obligation laid upon it by its Great King and Head, until the knowledge of God shall have covered the earth as the waters fill the channels of the deep.
These are the resolutions that were passed unanimously; and should God give grace to the church to act consistently with them, it requires little to show she shall, indeed, be blessed and made a blessing. Let her recollect that her responsibility is now awfully increased by so solemn and public a recognition of her duty.
At the commencement of the Synod, Dr. MʻLeod and Mr. Macfarlane, ministers of the Church of Scotland, were invited to sit with the body, and take a part in its proceedings. To this they cheerfully consented, having travelled from Scotland for the purpose of attending the meeting. When the resolution of taking up a collection, on an appointed day, for the objects of the Home Mission, was passed, the Rev. D. Stuart and the Rev. J. Wilson, ministers of the Secession Church in Dublin and Drogheda, very kindly made an offer of their pulpits and collections at the same time. This was thankfully embraced ; and the mutual kind feeling which was expressed, contributed not a little to heighten the interest of the proceedings. On the following Sabbath, two most appropriate discourses were preached by the Rev. D. Macfarlane, of Scotland, which formed a delightful termination to the proceedings of the week.
The ark (a type of the church) had the ribs, and planks, and parts thereof so closely fastened into one another, that no water might get in to drown it. And in the tabernacle, all the curtains thereof were to be coupled together into one another.-Exod. xxvi. 3. Christ is all for unity, and joining things into one : two natures united in one Person, two parties reconciled by one Mediator, two people concorporated into one church ; one Father, one seed, one faith, one Head, one hope, one love, one worship, one body, one Spirit, one end and common salvation. " Christ is not,” loves not to be “ divided.” This is a fundamental requisite unto the growth of the body—the preservation of its unity. The building must be “ fitly framed together," if you would have it “grow holy temple” to the Lord. -Eph. ii. 21 ; Col. ii. 19. When there was most unity, there was most increase in the church ; when they were “all of one accord,” of “one heart," and "one soul,” then the Lord “ added to the church daily such as should be saved.”— Acts ii. 46, 47. They that cause divisions and dissentions, do not serve the Lord Jesus; and therefore they cannot but hinder the progress of his Gospel. Rom. xvi. 17, 18. As in the natural, so in the mystical body, solutio continui' tendeth to the paining and grieving of that Spirit by which the whole body lives, and, by consequence, hinders the growth of it.-Eph. iv. 30, 31. Our growth is, by the apostle, distributed into growth in knowledge and growth in grace.—2 Pet. iii. 18. And divisions in the church are of themselves great hindrances unto both these ;-unto knowledge, because the most usual breaches in the church arise out of diversities of opinion, publickly asserted and insisted on by the authors and followers of them. And though accidentally, where truth is embraced, it is held with more care, and searched into with more accurateness, because of the errors that oppose it, (as the fire seems hottest in the coldest weather,) yet corrupt doctrine being of the nature of a weed or canker, to spread, and eat further and further, it must needs consequently hinder the spreading, and in that kind, the growth of knowledge. Nor doth it less hinder the growth of grace; for while the people of God are all of one heart and of one way, then all their communion runs into this one design of mutually edifying, comforting, supporting, and encouraging one another in their holy faith : but when they are divided and broken into faction by different judgments, if there be not a greater abundance of humility and spiritual wisdom, the