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MISSIONS OF THE PRESBYTERIAN CHURCH.
REVIVAL GIVING. God has, within the past two years,
of our churches. The refreshing influences of his Spirit have been experienced by them. Hundreds and thousands have swelled the communion-roll, and in proportion as such have been renovated, has the strength of moral evil been weakened and its ranks thinned; and in the same proportion as these have entered the kingdom and consecrated themselves to Heaven's service, with all their talents, is the Redeemer's cause built up and enlarged. Numbers, influence, wealth, are in themselves no additional power to the church unless they are an offering to the Lord, to be used by him and for him according to their nature and design. What matters it that the church's numbers and ability are increasing unless they are the ministries of God for the advancement of his kingdom. The latent power of the church is already vast, and to augment it is in no way to enrich the world spiritually, or add to the efficiency of Zion. Such a power needs no addition but a quickening that it may be clothed with life, properly used and wisely directed for the glory of the Master and the good of souls.
Within the period alluded to, the church has not only received a large accession of members but of wealth. Is this the Lord's ? Not his in theory but in fact; to draw from it his portion, and to have all rightly employed for the good of his children and the salvation of the lost. The conversion of property is a very different thing from the conversion of the soul to God. At first blush we would say the two were inseparable, that the one brings with it the other as a natural consequence. But not so. There are in the church seemingly earnest, devoted Christians who are far from being generous, large-hearted, Christ-like givers; who know nothing of stewardship, nothing of self-denial, nothing of noble, disinterested benerolence, who act as if they were proprietors, not trustees—in no way blessed to bless others. There are others who know nothing of proportionate giving or bestowing as God has prospered, to meet the claims of religion and the wants of those who are perishing for lack of vision. And 0! how many are there who have never, under the burning, melting
VOL, XXVI.-NO. I.
power of the cross, learned Christian liberality as a grace, or rejoiced in it as a favour and a privilege conferred on them by a loving Redeemer.
In the warmth of new-born love; in the lively and vigorous action of the renovated soul; in the vivid consciousness of a wondrous change, of great deliverance and of grateful obligation, we would expect to see effort combined with prayer, sympathy joined with zeal for the rescuing of others from eternal death. But how often is it that a revival terminates almost wholly on the church visited, and the regions beyond sunk in spiritual darkness and cheerless despair are in no way affected by such gracious awakenings; in no way moved and reached by such glorious displays of God's condescending love and renewing power. This is the time when the regenerated man is susceptible to truth, alive to suggestions and ready to do what is right; then should he be taught and made to feel that he is not his own; that he is to live and labour for others; that his whole spiritual influence must be exerted for God and humanity, and that in consecrating himself to the service of Jesus, he dedicates also his means -all that he has, as well as all that he is.
Selfishness is the last thing to die in a believer. In him and around him are much to feed this depraved principle, and unless on his guard he will become worldly, cold, unfeeling and illiberal. He must, therefore, have something to do as well as to feel; something to live for as well as to live on; something to give as well as to receive; something to curb his covetous desires as well as to afford scope to his benevolent emotions and purposes. Christ knows his needs, and therefore requires him to be a dispenser of his bounties, and to be ready to communicate, willing to distribute. This the convert must be made to see, to know, to feel and to do. This will demand instruction, training and culture, and this every pastor is bound to give. In this he must apprehend his responsibility as much as the believer must recognize his in the way referred to; and much of the seeming indifference and the indisposition to further the progress of the gospel in the earth are owing to this lack of training on the part of those who are set in the church to teach duty, impart knowledge and bring all into loving sympathy with the ends and aims of Christ's atoning work and mediatorial rule.
One who sees things in their true light and who has sought to educate his people in the grace of giving, thus speaks in sending the increased offerings of his people to the Board :
“ We have had a revival in our church, and one way of judging of it as genuine is in the grace of giving being developed among its members. I have but little confidence in a revival where the liberality of a congregation is not increased by it, and I try to teach my people that their religion is worth no more than their 'giving'amounts to. They may be hypocrites and yet give, but they cannot be Christians and not give, and like all other graces will the grace of giving abound as they are Christians. A low standard of giving is always evidence of a low standard of religion,
and where there is no giving there can be no religion. As the love of God abounds in their hearts, so will this grace abound as all other graces of the Spirit.
“Thus I have been endeavouring to teach this people. It has been a hard and disagreeable task, that has brought me much reproach and opposition, but it has been attended with some measure of success. The people now see that it is a great advantage to themselves, as it is the discharge of a great duty to abound in giving. They have to testify to the Saviour's saying, “It is more blessed to give than to receive,' for never was this church so highly favored and blessed as when it most abounded in giving.”
Some say that all that is needed to bring the church up to her duty, and to consecrate her resources for the evangelization of the world, is the outpouring of the Spirit. This is true, if it reaches a heart like Paul's, or sets on fire a soul like Whitefield's, whose love to Christ and to others was a holy passion, whose zeal was unflagging and whose life was one continuous effort to bless and save others. But the love of Christ inflames other hearts, the Spirit's converting presence touches other souls without produc
such fruits. How many are there who have been brought into the • church of late whose love is wholly emotional, and who have done nothing
for the extension of the Redeemer's kingdom. Yea, how many churches are there whose liberality and efforts for the evangelization of the world have in no way been increased by all that the Spirit has done for them, but who have taken this very increase and turned it wholly to their own selfaggrandizement.
In the last Assembly, and in our weekly periodicals, much was said of the refreshing from the Lord enjoyed by many churches, and the additions to the same, and many hearts have rejoiced to these displays of divine love and in this numerical increase. Now, in what way have pastors seized this large accession and turned it to account for the Master? It must be reckoned for something more than mere figures, or it is worthless. We have taken over forty churches that received the largest number on profession of their faith as mentioned in the Minutes of 1866, a little more than 3,000 in all; and we have looked at the contributions of these churches for foreign missions for the years 1864-5, 1865–6, 1866–7, the year before the revival, the year when God added so many to their roll, and the year after, and what are the facts ? These churches gave for the conversion of the heathen nearly $1,200 less in 1865-6 than the previous year and for the year just closed $1,700 less than in 1864–5, or more than $500 less than the preceding year. These are startling figures ! These are solemn facts! a falling off of more than one-third in their total contributions, though more than three thousand souls had united themselves with these churches in the meantime. There is fault somewhere; surely all pastors did not feel the obligation of pressing home the duty of saving others and of giving to this cause.
It is therefore evident that the Holy Spirit must be looked to, not only