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human beings ever imposed or defined such an obligation. Perhaps he never uttered any other command to men with such a concentration of motive. The gathered intensity of his life-long purposes and love was in his words. They were spoken with the power that could pledge the guidance and energy of the Holy Ghost about to fall upon the wondering hearers. They were intensified with the purpose of resuming the scepter of omnipotence, now for the first time taking it with the hand of glorified humanity. And he spoke them with his mind filled with plans and purposes of preparation among the many mansions of his Father's house, to receive the mighty tide of redeemed humanity to be turned heavenward by those obeying this command.
These words were to rouse and rally and inspire men to a life-work of the loftiest and most sustained heroism, and to test the fidelity and capacity of every one called to be a disciple; and on the manner of the reception of this Gospel he then and here predicated the salvation or damnation of every hearer.
O, miserably do they err who deem their Christian duty done when the Church at home is well sustained! The Church of Christ is organized as an invading army, and the home Church is its base of operations. But what shall we say of an invasion whose utmost success is that of standing still? Is not that resisting enemy already triumphant that can confine the attention and resources of his invader to works of self-preservation? Instead of conquering, the Church is ever in danger of being overcome by the spirit of the world; and such is the temper of the foe, that the most vigorous offensive is the best, the safest, and the cheapest defensive measure.
The Church as a local institution exists for a twofold purpose: First, for the conversion of sinners in its vicinity and the edification of its members, enforcing on them the duty of a life of holiness and self-denying consecration to the service of God. Second, to organize and execute measures for giving the Gospel to the regions beyond.
that be a true conversion at all that does not carry with it some important knowledge of the life and work of a believer? And can that be a sound edification that allows one of the foremost of duties to fall into desuetude and forgetfulness? There is no escape from the conclusion, that just in
so far as a Church is not disciplined to the duty of the world's conversion, so far it is in the condition of the blind led by the blind.
Wherever the Church is spiritually alive the ear is open to the Macedonian cry, and the heart feels the force of the Saviour's great command, and the response is proportioned to the degree of faith working by love and the knowledge of the subject possessed by the Church at the time.
The response to Christ's command by the Churches in this age is almost entirely in their organized benevolences for aggressive evangelical work. It is so in the Methodist Episcopal Church. Here the Missionary, Church Extension, Tract, Sunday - School, Freedmen's Aid, and Educational Boards and Societies, together with a proprietary interest in the American Bible Society, these almost exhaustively constitute and measure what this great Church is doing toward the world's evangelization. Beyond these are but few fragmentary efforts which, like the aerolites among the planets, scarcely count in their attraction or impact. An occasional sporadic exception only proves a lesson of needed enlargement and perfection of method, and is quickly learned. These are parts of the great missionary movement. They are parts of unequal magnitude, but each indispensable, and none can be neglected without impairing the efficiency of the whole, and it is doubtful whether for years to come any one of them could be consolidated with another without loss to the whole.
Hence the immense importance of these benevolences, which not only gather and use the material resources, but also call forth and fix upon their objects the prayers and faith-power of the Church.
WHAT IS THE MEASURE OF THE CHURCH's OBLIGATION ?
To this question we geť the uniform answer from every side, as in case of any truism, that the obligation is only measured by the ability ; but when we ask for the measure of the ability the answers are innumerable and endlessly discordant.
Churches enough to make whole Conferences, and large ones at that, are giving a few pennies per member and declaring themselves at the utmost limit of their ability; they groan under their burdens, and think one of the chief reasons why they are so often behindhand with their finances is because of the drain of the benevolences on their resources, and many of their leading members would think an attempt at an advance only a proof of rashness.
At the other extreme, with a curious gradation between, are persons of high intelligence, and always careful in forming their opinions, who believe the evangelical Churches now possess potentially the spiritual and actually the material resources to carry the living Gospel to every human being within ten years, and that, too, without asking a single individual to do any thing unreasonable, or to make a sacrifice greater than many are now making for the blessed Master with joy and gladness. They are persuaded that if all believers should gather as one man at the mercy-seat—as was intended by the original projectors of the Week of Prayer—and fixing their minds on the one object alone, ask the Lord for the world's conversion, and for the baptism of the Holy Ghost upon them. selves every one, to fit them fully for their part of the work according to God's provision and measure, and if they should persist, Pentecost would be re-enacted on a scale as broad as evangelical Christendom, and the Spirit would call out tens of thousands who would go abroad with power that would force itself through the resistance of unknown tongues; and even by the preaching through interpreters—as with Brainard among the Indians at Crosswicks, and Taylor in South Africa, and
many others of less renown among men-conversions with power would occur by hundreds; and God, honoring his servants as he always does when they are faithful, would pour out his Spirit upon the heathen till the very rumor of the coming Gospel would cause them to gather together by thousands—as in Fiji and Madagascar, beyond where a missionary had ever trod--and call upon the God of the Christians to accept them, and to send them a teacher to tell them the words of life. Then what a field for the coming preacher to broadcast the Word! Out of these multitudes of believers there would not fail to arise many a Luther and many a Knox, many a Wesley and many a Whitefield, many an Asbury and many a Nast, to complete the work of evangelization, and organize these newly-conquered provinces of the kingdom of God. The money ? A needed million is so hard to get now.
of millions would be needed then, and these would be forthcoming as spontaneously as the shekels at Pentecost, or as the offerings of the Macedonians, made beyond their power, in the depths of poverty and affliction, urging them upon Paul when they had such weighty reasons for keeping them at home. He only prays the Spirit of God into his imagination and not into his heart who does not pray up within himself a liberality as royal as the king's sons. Would the Church be impov. erished ? Nay, but enriched by perceiving many of her own outlays to be needless, and by accessions from every class, high and low, who could reimburse her five fold every year without loss to themselves out of the savings from expensive vices.
Another answer to the question of the Church's ability is furnished by what is actually now being done by a part of the Church. There were, in 1882, more than twenty thonsand members of the Methodist Episcopal Church who gave more than their full share of an aggregate of twenty millions of dollars to these benevolences. That is to say, if each member of the Church of equal ability with these respectively had contributed as they did, the sum would have exceeded twenty millions. And it is probable that hardly any of these noble givers have overdone their giving, and that an increase of their piety, wisdom, and knowledge of the matter would increase the contributions of nine tenths of them. It is certain that these collections appear to them less burdensome than they appear to any other class of the Church's membership.
If we test the Church's ability by the tenth of the income of its members—the lowest amount mentioned in the Scriptures as acceptable when a proportion is mentioned at all—and if we say the rule may admit of many exceptions, it remains that the exceptions are chiefly among those having the least income, (and still they could usually give something,) and that all persons of the average prosperity of the class to which they belong, throughout nearly all the industries of the land, should not give less than a tenth. It remains, too, that many should give more than a tenth; and as these are generally such as have the larger incomes, therefore it is entirely within bounds to say that the Church's average should be one tenth; then, with half that şum the home Church could be far better supported than now, and leave the other half, or five per cent. of the
general income, to supply the means to carry out the Saviour's great command. This would multiply the present collections by a very large factor, and give an astonishing product! An average of one per cent. would produce about three times the amount now received.
ACTUAL CONDITION OF THE BENEVOLENCES. A careful tabulation of the average contribution per member to all these collections in every charge in the United States, as the statistical reports stood in the middle of the year 1881, gave the following:
104 charges, comprising 24,377 members, giving from $2 50 upward.
2 00 to $2 49
1 50 to 1 99 389 79,504
1 00 to 1 49 545 100,862
99 1.145 201,155
50 to 74 2,517 429,081
49 2,468 408,384
10 to 24 1,759 340,746
9 727 45,711
The application of certain rules of analysis and classification, (see Methodist Quarterly Review, January, 1882, pp. 52, 53) and which have never been invalidated, showed :
There is an appreciable error in these figures, because they were based upon the reports of membership made before the new method of reporting was adopted, and which were somewhat inflated with names of members that had disappeared. The