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facilitate the accomplishment of the end contemplated by these institutions. What is it that Bible, Tract, Sunday-school, and Temperance Societies contemplate, but to prepare men, by the diffusion of knowledge, and the removal of vice, for the influence of the preached word? If any one will but steadily consider the influence which the benign proclamation of the Gospel exerts on the hearts of men, and on the general character of society, he will feel, that in conferring its stated and faithful ministrations on a neigbourhood, he is conferring the greatest of all blessings. He is setting wide open the gates of heaven ; he is bringing all those countless and nameless influences which attend the observance of the Sabbath, and the regular attendance on divine worship, to bear on the people. He is providing one of the most effectual means for the diffusion of knowledge, and of intellectual culture. He is bring
. ing into operation the best instrument for moral improvement and social refinement. He is, in a word, taking the shortest and the surest method for securing the great end contemplated in the Gospel of the grace of God; the temporal and eternal, the moral and spiritual welfare of mankind. As the correctness of this representation will not be questioned, the wonder is, not that so much is done to provide and send forth the ministers of reconciliation, but that the Church is still so little alive to the paramount importance of this great object.
There is a consideration, however, connected with this subject, which deserves to be seriously pondered. In the praiseworthy zeal to furnish the means of grace to those who are perishing for want of knowledge, the temptation is very strong to have more regard to the number, than to the qualifications of those who are to dispense the word of life. Against this temptation the conductors of missions, and of the education cause, should be constantly on their guard. It can hardly be doubted, that one bad man may do more harm than ten good men can remedy ; that error has more affinity for the corrupt heart than truth; that it is much easier to pervert, than to reclaim; that the evil of an incompetent and unfaithful ministry is both disastrous and lasting. In no business, therefore, is responsibility greater than in providing ministers of the Gospel for the destitute. It is a matter of gratitude that the word of God is so explicit on the subject of qualifications for the sacred office, that we may fortify our cooler and better purposes against the impulses of fervent, though short-sighted zeal, by the direct authority of our divine Master.
forbidden, expressly and frequently, to induct into the office of the ministry, ignorant and unfaithful men. We are commanded to require knowledge, piety, discretion, and aptness to teach, in all who are commissioned to be instructers and guides of the flock of Jesus Christ, and who are set for the defence of the truth.
In any organization, having for its object the training of young men for the sacred office, it cannot be doubted that one of the principal points to be desired, is a competent security that those whom it may patronize should really possess the qualifications to which we have referred. Nor will it be questioned that this is an object of very difficult attainment; that the liability to mistake, imposition, or partiality, is very great; consequently, that any and every plan proposed to the churches on this subject, should be carefully scrutinized. « The Constitution and Laws of the Board of Education of the General Assembly," exhibit the plan on which this body proposes to act on this subject. An inspection of this document will suffice, we think, to convince every impartial reader of the wisdom and efficiency of their system. As one great object to be secured is the proper selection and constant supervision of candidates, an Examining Committee is appointed in every Presbytery, connected with the Board, whose duty it is “to examine the candidate for patronage, on his personal and experimental piety; on his motives for seeking the holy office of the ministry; on his attachment to the standards of the Presbyterian Church; on his general habits, his prudence, his studies, his talents, his gifts for public speaking; on his disposition to struggle to sustain himself, and on his willingness to observe the rules of the Board.” These committees, thus scattered over the whole extent of the Church, are, obviously, better fitted than any central body could be, for the discharge of this delicate and difficult duty. They have the candidate under their own eye, and have the opportunity of personal knowledge of his character and talents. Being appointed from the members of Presbytery, the responsibility is placed where it officially and properly belongs. We think these committees are, in fact, always appointed in concurrence with the Presbyteries.
Besides these examining and recommending committees, there are Executive Committees, appointed by the several Auxiliary Presbyteries, " to superintend the education of their own candidates. This is a very important provision. One
VOL. IV. No. IV.-4 E
of the greatest evils to be avoided in any such organization, is the centreing of all influence and direction in any one body of men. It has always appeared to us, that nothing was more obvious than that, according to the spirit of Presbyterianism and principles of the Scripture, it belongs to the authorities of the Church, the Presbyteries, to superintend the introduction of men into the sacred office. Instead of having the influence confined to one body, it is thus distributed and confided to the hands to which it appropriately belongs. We think that this feature of the Assembly's Board must, eventually, secure for it the confidence and support of the great body of the Church. It will be seen that no desire exists, and if it existed, no power is possessed, to influence the formation of the character and opinions of the united body of candidates for the ministry: that the place and course of study, the degree and character of supervision exercised, are all left to the particular Presbytery to which each candidate belongs. We are at a loss to conceive of a plan better adapted to secure this confidence, especially as the Board have incorporated among their rules, that every Auxiliary Synod or Presbytery “agreeing to pass all its monies through the hands of the Board, shall be entitled to claim aid for all the youth regularly received under its care, however much the appropriations necessary may exceed the contributions of said Auxiliary.”-Art. 2. Chap. II. In virtue of these two provisions, which are of the most liberal and generous character, the Presbyteries have every thing they can reasonably desire, the supervision of their own young men, and provision for their support; and the Christian public have every security which the case admits, that all possible care will be taken in selecting and superintending those who are made the recipients of their bounty. From the smallness of the appropriations, (which are limited to $100 to those in theological seminaries, $75 to those in the earlier stages of their education, there is no danger that the beneficiaries of the Board will be fostered in self-indulgence, or raised above the necessity of self-denial and effort. For the grand objects, therefore, of having the candidates for the sacred office properly trained, and of having this work committed to safe and competent hands, the plan of the Board makes the most satisfactory arrangement.
Another, and scarcely less important object, is efficiency and facility of operation. In a work of such magnitude, and of such pressing importance as the supply of ministers of the
Gospel to the dying millions of our race, the public are, perhaps, more solicitous to see the work go on, than about the comparative security and value of its probable results. That plan, therefore, which promises and effects most; which admits, and, in fact, exhibits the most visible efficiency, will command most confidence and support. Success here, as in most other cases, is the grand test of excellence. In looking into the plan of the Board, we think we see sufficient ground for expecting this energy and efficiency. We have already stated the provisions which secure it from the objection of the consolidation of all power and control in the hands of one set of men; we are now to ask, how is the requisite energy of action provided for? Principally, and sufficiently, as think, by making the whole business one concern. There is one purse, one agent, one centre of action. Before the recent re-organization of the Board, the bond between the several Auxiliary Presbyteries was scarcely more than nominal. They were held together as the States, under the old confederation, by a name. Each operated for itself; had its own separate treasury, its own beneficiaries, unknown, and often unreported to the general Board. The consequence was, that although the General Agent was one of the most highly respected ministers of our connexion, little or nothing could be accomplished. This grand defect has been redeemed. The resolution to require every Auxiliary to pour all the money into the general treasury, by giving all a common interest in a common fund, produced at once the consciousness of unity. The natural objection to this plan, viz. that a Presbytery, after having parted with its funds, might be left at the mercy of the Board, without the means of sustaining its own young men, was completely obviated, by conferring the privilege on every Auxiliary of drawing ad libitum from this common stock, no matter how much its drafts should exceed its contributions. Each Auxiliary has now a substantial interest in the union, and an universally operating motive to effect and maintain it. This arrangement, so obviously beneficial to the Auxiliaries, imposes the necessity on the Board, to make from the whole Church as a common field, provision for the demands of the whole Church. Their agent, therefore, goes forth within the bounds of every Auxiliary, not as an intruder, but as the welcome and authorized agent of each member, and of the whole body.
This plan has now been more than a year in operation, and how has it worked ? For answer to this question, we refer, with thankfulness to God, to the Annual Report presented to the last General Assembly. From this document we learn, that from an existence scarcely more than nominal, the Board has risen to the efficient and successful representative of a large portion of our churches, having 270 candidates under their care, and funds raised or pledged to the sum of nearly $20.000. This result, in so short a time, cannot but be regarded as cheering evidence of the wisdom of the plan of the Board, and of the energy with which it has been carried into operation, and furnishes, at once, cause of gratitude for the past, and encouragement for the future.
It can hardly be necessary to appeal to our readers in behalf of an institution which contemplates an object of such vast importance, and which promises to prosecute it with so much energy and success.
We have already adverted to the principles on which the Board is organized, as presenting strong claims to the confidence of the Christian public. There seems to be no room for any misgivings or party feelings. Whatever be the views of the acting majority of the Executive Committee, or Board, from time to time, they have no control over the candidates. The supervision and direction are committed to the several Presbyteries. It is not this college, nor that college, that needs seek the favour, or fear the power of the central Branch; it is not one theological institution more than another that can hope for their support. The young men study, not where the partialities of a few men, at the centre of action, might wish to see them, but where their own immediate guardians see fit to place them. This is a consideration, which, in its bearing on the purity and independence of the candidates for the ministry, as a body, cannot, we think, be too highly estimated.
No matter how excellent the plan of operation may be, we admit, that in the hands of inefficient agents, little good can be effected, and with such as are influenced by a bad spirit of any kind, much evil must be the result. It is not our purpose, for obvious reasons, to speak of the claims of the Board, on the ground of the character and fitness of the General Agent, to whom they have committed the principal management of their concerns. This, happily, is unnecessary. The result of his labours is his proper and highest eulogium. The most sanguine anticipations of his friends have been greatly