« PreviousContinue »
1. Annual contributions
of the Churches,
4. Avails of Connecti-
but small. This failure arose from
Funds of the Society.
The funds of this Society have been derived principally from donations from benevolent associations and individuals, and from annual contributions. Since the year 1792, the Legislature of the State has granted the Trustees the permission to solicit public contributions annually for the objects of the Society. The Governor has accordingly issued his proclamation to this effect, and contributions have been received from the congregational churches throughout the state. These have generally
For several years a periodical Magazine, entitled the Connecticut Evangelical Magazine,' was published at Hartford, the profits of which were generously given to the Society. The work was very respectable, and highly useful, besides giving the Society a very handsome sum, as will be seen by the following schedule of the Receipts and Disbursements of the Society from its organization in 1798, to the close of the year 1822, a period of twenty four years:VOL. VI.-No. 1.
1. To Missonaries to new
2. For missions to Indi-
4. Salaries of Treasurer,
Total Disbursements, $98342 46 By this statement it will be seen that $22865 71 have been paid for missionary labours over and above the amount of the annual contributions; and that $29183 38, remain in the Treasury as a permanent fund. The people in the new countries are doing more and more for themselves. Most of them find it difficult to obtain money, and they have often brought their little donation to the missionary on his departure, and wept that they had no more to give. The salaries of the missionaries are $416 a year, besides a small outfit when they commence their journies. Out of this sum a!l their travelling and other expenses are defrayed.
Importance of the Society.
It is one of the highest excellencies of our religion that its spirit is active; that not satisfied with merely giving to those who freely ask, it 2
goes out after the unwilling subjects of its benevolence, and constrains them to feel their wants. This is precisely the influence of this Society. I would call the attention of the intelligent reader to its importance, by one or two brief- considerations.
1. The present state of our new settlements. It may be supposed that during the existence of this Society, we have done as much towards giving our destitute brethren gratuitous instruction as we ought. It is true that much has been done, yet "much land remains to be possessed." The tide of population is rolling further and further west, the field of labor is daily widening, and the call for active help is becoming increasingly urgent. The dangers which surround the inhabitants of those regions are immense. The depravity of our natures, ever impatient under controul, is there with out the restraints of public opinion and of a well organized society. They have but few public and moral institutions. The Sabbath, the great pillar of society, is, in many parts, almost unknown. The people are growing up in ignorance of its privileges and duties, and are forming habits of contentment without its ordinances. It has often been noticed, that many, who were moral and respectable before leaving us, have gradually become abandoned and almost heathen in the new country. For the extent of their country they have but comparatively few, schools and churches At the present time, there is not a regularly settled minister in all the territory of Illinois, and only one Presbyterian preacher, and he has lately been sent by this Society. The evil of intemperance in our new settlementsis incalculable. It is a pestilence that "walketh in darkness, and wasteth at noon-day." Dram-shops are multiplying, which, like the gates of death, seem to preclude those who enter from the possibility of rescue. Infidelity is making havoc in many
places, trying to extinguish the sun, and "lighting the world with her taper." Nothing but the Gospel in its purity can ever meet these dangers. It is for this, that the cry is raised. It is for want of this, that the harp of many a lonely pilgrim hangs on the willows which bend over the streams of the West. We may tell them we feel for them, and love them; but till we supply them in their feebleness, with the bread of life—
"How vain the words of soothing comfort flow,
Like the pure moon-beam on the polar
The silvery light may spread a second day,
But the cold frost-work will not melt away!"
2. The prospects of our new settlements.When I look at the design and influence of this Society, I remember that the population of our country has doubled in less than thirty years; but when I think of the immeasurable extent of country which lies beyond where civilized man has yet trodden, I see no prospect that this ratio is at present to be diminished. When I think of what these immense wilds are yet to be what a population is one day to cover all this country,—I cannot but view the present as an auspicious time to put forth exertions which are to tell on the destinies of these settlements throughout eternity. I look upon the present generation in these regions as acting for posterity-for millions yet unborn; as giving an aspect to society which will be permanent; as laying the foundations of moral and religious institutions which are to be imperishable. Such, then, being the field in which the Connec ticut Missionary Society has been called to labor, how immensely important is it, that it should continue to be liberally supported, and enabled to act with increasing energy, till the wilderness shall be like Eden, and the desert like the garden of the Lord. O. ERATOL.
JER. X, 23.-0 Lord, I know that the way of man is not in himself: it is not in man that walketh to direct his steps.
At no time is it useless, to reflect solemnly on the supremacy of God, and on the dependence and frailty of man. There are epochs however, when we are especially called to such reflection—when it is deemed to be more than commonly serviceable to our souls. Such among others is the period which the readers of this discourse have been permitted to reach, viz.the commencement of a New Year. You have been mercifully carried through the trials and dangers of the past year the good hand of God has been upon you, in keeping you alive, while many others have been called to their account-and it surely be comes you, at such a season, to think of Him and yourselves in the light above-mentioned. To such reflection does the text especially invite you.
An increase of years must convince reflecting people, more and mo e as to the truth of that declaration of the prophet. Each revolu tion of the seasons brings with it, its comments and its proofs. The images of the dead, and the persons of the living in the changes they have undergone, successively occupying the field of vision, as the year returns, show us most strikingly how sovereign is God, and how helpless is man. Thus experience, as well as the Bible, teaches us that not always, 'is the race to the swift nor the battle to the strong, neither yet bread to the wise, nor yet riches to men of understanding, nor yet favor to men of skill that our lives are made up of a series of divine interpositions, and allotments, rather than of the independent and unaided results of human power, or contrivance. Every serious and deeply reflecting man will admit the above. Yea more, the experimental believer, in bis conflicts with sin and the world, in his tempo
ral sufferings, antd in he supplies imparted to him through divine grace, will say with the prophet—‘O Lord I know that the way of man is not in himself: it is not in man that walketh to direct his steps,'
Jeremiah made this declaration under the influence equally of piety and of affliction. Whatever may be the local application of this language, it does itself declare, and the instance in the divine dealings to which it refers, exemplifies, a general truth. He follows the sentiment with this request. O Lord correct me, but with judgment; not, in thine anger, lest thou bring me to nothing”—the text and context shewing, what also is self-evident, that when the way of man is said not to be in himself, and it is not in man that walketh to direct his steps, the same must be in God. His agency is concerned in the conduct and allotments of man. Under the present declaration therefore, will be considered this truthGod is our Disposer.
Some explanations, and some instances illustrating or proving this truth, are proposed to be given.
1. It is not intended that God is the disposer of men in every sense in which it is possible to entertain this proposition in the mind—or that there is no sense whatever, in which man can be said to direct his own
way. So far as he possesses the powers of a moral agent, his way is in himself. That is to say, so far as he is permitted according to the circumstances in which he is placed, freely to choose between right and wrong-between good and evil, he can direct his own way. It is true indeed, that he may choose injuriously for himself He may fail in judgment, or in correctness of moral feelings, so that it might be a mercy to him in particular instances, could he exercise no such freedom of choice. Still it is his own choice, however he may determine for himselt: and in this acceptation of the terms above used, man is the maker of his own destiny.
2. It is not intended that God is the disposer of man, in the way of severing the connection between the end and the means. In regard to the concerns of this life, there is often an instrumental connection, between the conduct we pursue, and the objects at which we aim. By prudence or foresight, we may be saved from many evils, which would doubtless come upon us, if we refused to exert our prudence or foresight. Thus poverty is often avoided by means of industry, and reproach by means of a correct moral deportment. Thus danger, as to the loss of health or life, may sometimes be effectually guarded against, by using a degree of care. At least, there is such a thing as exposing one's self to sickness and death, in a rash and unjustifiable manner, in which case, events must take their proper course. In general, it is too well known to be disputed, that some persons obtain advantages of a worldly nature by their sagacity and prudence, which others do not, who are less gifted in these respects, or less disposed to exercise their gifts.
In regard to our spiritual concerns also, God's disposition of us is regulated, according to the same general principle. In accomplishing certain ends, he never violates any established connection between them and the means. As mankind are here concerned, he makes the attain ment and the end, consequent on the employment and the means: will he ever deny to those who conduct themselves as he requires, the object they have in view.Thus could the sinner find it in his heart to pray in a right temper, his prayer would be heard. Could he feel disposed to exercise repentance of sin, and faith in Christ, he would be saved. And whenever these are actually his exercises, whatever may have been the influence which produced them, the great end is effectually secured. But
3. God is the disposer of mankind in the sense that their choice or
conduct, whatever it may be, must agree with what he foreknew concerning it, and even intended or purposed that it should be. They are under his controul inasmuch as their choice, and the conduct that flows from it, may on the whole, agree with his mind or will, fulfilling alike their desires and his pleasure. That the previous certainty of our actions, does not militate against their freedom, might if it were here necessary to enter into this subject, be clearly demonstrated. We may be satisfied on this point, with this summary consideration, should we be permitted to go no further, viz. that a being of boundless perfection, "among the infinite multitude of possible free agents," known by him, could select those who, endowed with certain attributes, and placed in certain situations, while they acted and chose in the most voluntary manner, would fulfil the purposes of his pleasure. That there is room for such a coincidence, among an infinite multitude of agents of this description, no one can deny. To return to our first thought-though man directs his own steps, in the sense in which voluntary action belongs to him; yet in the sense in which such action agrees with the divine mind, or accomplishes the divine pleasure, God is the disposer of man. And as he brought mankind into existence, and placed them in a situation in which they must have some choice or other, and must accomplish his purposes, let that choice be what it may, he is originally, and in the highest sense, their disposer.
4. God is our disposer furthermore in this respect, viz. that there is much deeply affecting us, over which neither our power, knowledge, nor will has any control whatever. Here we lie absolutely at his mercy. There is much of temporal evil, which as before remarked, we may escape by exercising care; but there is much also which we cannot escape, by exercising the greatest care. Here the established connection between
the end and the means, we are unable to discern. finally overtakes us, notwithstanding all the vigilance we can employ, in order to effect our escape. As to spiritual evil, mankind choose not to avoid it. In reference to any change of moral character, they exercise no control, since their will invariably acts in conformity to the depravity of their hearts. Of themselves sinners do not choose or wish to be religious. In this most important particular, then, it lies altogether in God to decide for them. Their guilt exposes them to a just punishment; but if he has other purposes to an swer in relation to any of them, he can easily accomplish these purposes. Man as a creature, is dependant. God can direct him in his state of dependence, and touch, with out deranging, those springs of action which himself has inade. On this scheme, it is not necessary to suppose that man is merely passive, or is moved like a machine, in what he does. He is active, and made to be active, and this in strict conformity to his dependence. His nature is active, and God controls him according to the activity of his nature. In being brought therefore to embrace religion, he acts the part of a moral agent, though in essential dependence on the Almighty arm.
Death for instance
The nature of the truth presented in the text, requires the explanations that have been given, in order properly to limit and fix it, in our own minds. In maintaining the supremacy of God, and the dependence of man, we must not seem to diminish human accountableness. You have duties to perform notwithstanding God's sovereign control of you and your concerns. It is highly necessary that you feel it to be a practical truth. Its important relations therefore, it was proper to know. Your attention is now invited to some instances illustrating or proving it. These will be derived from two principal sources.
1. From unexpected events in di
vine providence, or events in relation to which, we can make no definite calculations. These will clearly shew that God is our disposer.
The want of worldly happiness, is an instance of this kind. In the pursuit of this object, all men without exception, are disappointed. The event, though frequently declared to them,seems after all, to be unexpected. The failure is indeed most signal. Few, in the first place, attain the objects in which they imagine happiness to consist, and next, those that do attain them, find upon experience, that they are as far from happiness as ever. Those objects
never impart peace to the immortal mind. They do not satisfy its wishes or expectations. The persons are conscious that the elevation itself to which they are raised, by the acquisition of wealth, or honor, or office, is uncertain. And often is it the fact, that a successful competitor puts to flight their dreams of superiority. On the subject of worldly happiness (and in a state of nature, no man has any higher aim,) all their calculations are overruled by the providence of God. Verily here the way of man is not in him-. self."
Contrariety of results from the same or similar efforts, is another instance, showing the sovereignty of God's appointments in regard to man. The same course of action does not always produce the same specific effect. Things often take an entirely different turn from that which was anticipated. In aiming at one object, you sometimes fall on another, which seemed, at first, to have but little relation to the means employed. Columbus in endeavoring to find a western passage to the Indies, becomes the instrument in the hands of God, of discovering a new world. In seeking a certain improvement, you hit upon another, which perhaps is greater than the one you had in view. In purposing to do evil, good of an extraordinary character is sometimes the result. In endeavor