Imatges de pÓgina



“Behold! the days come, saith the Lord God, that I will send a famine in the land, not a famine of bread, nor a thirst for water, but of hearing the words of the · Lord.”—This passage of Scripture had special reference to the Jews, in whom it has been fully accomplished. It is, however, true that there is a fainine of hearing the words of the Lord in the present day. The destitution of Christian instructers is deplorably great.

The harvest truly is plenteous,”—a whole world is to be gathered in—" but the laborers are few”-in comparison with the abundant work of God's vineyard, -very few. To supply Pagans, Mohammedans, and Jews, also the Greek and Latin churches with proper Christian instructers, would require seven hundred thousand. This assertion is made upon the ratio of furnishing one minister to every thousand souls. Even among Protestant Christians, there is a great deficiency of competent religious teachers. Passing over Protestant Europe, which, according to authentic documents, is far from being fully supplied, we will take a general view of the deficiency of Christian ministers in the United States.

In this country, there are now thirteen millions of people. Allowing one minister to a thousand inhabitants, (which is no more than a suitable proportion, and ninety

years ago, there were as many as one liberally educated minister to every six hundred souls in New England,) it would take thirteen thousand ministers to supply the country. But, according to the most accurate calculation, it appears, that the number of efficient ministers in the United States, of all denominations, is only eight or nine thousand ; and quite a large proportion of these, no evangelical Christian would consider as properly qualified to instruct. The Presbyterians, Congregationalists, Episcopalians, and Baptists, have about eight thousand churches; and yet only about five thousand ministers. Three or four thousand are required to supply with settled pastors the destitute churches, connected with these different denominations. Though there may be a number of worthy, excellent, and, in a few instances, superior ministers of the gospel unsettled, who are able to supply some of these churches, and who, probably, will ultimately be settled, yet the deficiency of such ministers is alarming. There are no data before the public, by wbich to determine very accurately the destitution of ministers in the Methodist denomination ; but from the fact, that one preacher is obliged to supply two, three, and sometimes four societies, it would seem, that there is a deficiency of ministers in that denomination. It ought to be considered, too, that these ministers are not scattered over the country in equal proportion, but quite the reverse. Even in New England, , which is much the best supplied, there is still a great deficiency. There has not been, in this section of our country, for the last twenty years, so great a demand for able, faithsul, and evangelical pastors, as at the present time. To this fact the destitute churches, and the different Home Missionary Societies can fully attest. But the destitution of ministers in New England is small, compared with that in the Middle, Southern and Western States. The late

Dr. Rice of the Union Theological Seminary in Virginia, observed a few years since, (and the state of things cannot as yet be materially altered) “I have heard a gentleman, whose word is as good as bis oath, say that in one district of our country, compact, rich, and populous, there were sixty thousand people, connected with no religious denomination whatever.” The single State of Ohio contains a million of people, one third as many as all the United States contained at the time of the revolationary war; yet all the efficient ministers of the different Christian denominations in the State, are but about four hondred. There is, then, a deficiency, allowing one minister to a thousand souls, of six hundred ministers in that State alone, and a destitute population of six hundred thousand. There are twelve counties adjoining the State of Ohio, in which there is not a single settled. Presbyterian, or Congregational minister; and in the South Western part of the State of Indiana, there are eight connies, containing about filly thousand inhabitants, in which there is but one. In Virginia and North Carolina, there are one hundred and seventy-one counties, of which one hundred and fourteen have no seliled minister of these denominations. From Baton Rouge to New Orleans, in the State of Louisiana, the distance of one hundred and twenty miles, and the most populous part of the State, too, it is believed that the first sermon ever preached on the Sabbath in the English language, was preached within three years. The Rev. Dr. Miller, in a lecture to the students of the Theological Seminary at Princeton, New Jersey, says, "Taking into view the missionary as well as the pastoral 'service, it is, probably, safe to affirm, that if we had a thousand able, and faithful men added to the nuinber of our ministers, they might all be usefully employed in our own country.” Indeed, speaking in general terms, the great

Valley of the Mississippi, embracing all that territory, which lies between the Alleghany and the Rocky Mountains, and the North Western Lakes and the Gulf of Mexico, containing four millions of people, is but an appalling picture of a wide spread moral desolation. A fam: ne, not of bread nor of water, but of hearing the words of th Lord, prevails to a most melancholy extent. Moral darkness and death reign. That section of our country is a valley of dry bones, very dry. This is no fiction, but a solemn and affecting reality.

Such is the present want, the distressing deficiency of ministers in this land, more highly favored in a religious point of view, than any other on the face of the g'obe. And this deficiency is increasing daily, as the tide of population rolls with unexampled rapidity from the Allantic to the Pacific Ocean. Six thousand ministers at least, are now wanted to supply the present destitution of the country; while cities and towns are springing into existence in almost every quarter, as it were by magic, where there are no ministers to weep for the people, between the porch and the altar, none to take them by the band and lead them into green pastures, and beside the still waters, nor to commend their departing spirits to Almighty God. The population of the United States increases now a thousand in a day, or three hundred and sixty-five thousand in a year. This, indeed, as appears by the late census, has been nearly the ratio of increase for the last ten years. To supply merely the increase of population, therefore, furnishing one only for a thousand souls, a mioister must be raised up every day :-add to this also, one hundred and fifty to supply the annual deficiency by reason of death ; and, if all the destitute in this country were now supplied, it would require an annual increase of five hundred ministers, at least, to keep good the supply,

not to speak of the demand for foreign missionaries. At the rate of increase for the last ten years, the United States, by the year 1860, will be peopled with thirty millions of inhabitants. More than half of this immense population will be west of the Alleghany Mountains, where now there are but few ministers of the gospel, but few literary institutions, and but few of the means of grace ; and where will be a most awful deficiency, unless special efforts are made to prevent it.

But how shall ministers be raised up to supply the destitute millions of this land, and the hundreds of millions destituie in other lands—to supply a world lying in wickedness ? Soine methods, which should be adopted will now be mentioned.

First.— Information respecting the deficiency of Christian instructers should be generally diffused.

Nehemiah, before be commenced rebuilding the walls of Jerusalem took a particular survey of its ruins. In like manner, good and patriotic people must becoine acquainted with the spiritual necessities of their fellow men, before they will exert themselves to relieve them. To effect this, every minister of the gospel should preach upon the subject, and tell bis people from the pulpit, of the destitution of Christian instructers. Occasionally, he should make it the theme of conversation with them. The press, too, should be enlisted to diffuse information respecting the moral wretchedness of the nations. The luminous reports of Education Societies, and all documents and facts, which serve to illustrate and enforce their object, should be printed and widely circulated. Such publications have helped much to arouse the churches to holy action, and urge them forward in the unparalleled march of benevolence in the present day. All Christians should be thus summoned to the glorious enterprise. And the

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