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The substance of the following pages has already appeared at intervals, in the shape of short communications, in the Christian Reg. ister. There was at first no design it should appear in any other way. But as the various parts presented seem bound together in unity of purpose, it has been thought well they should have a wholeness of form. Slight additions have been made in some places, not by way of correcting error, dur presenting more fully, and securing right apprehensions of the truth.
Ç, A, B. Boston, Oct. Ist, 1836,
M.NOT PRATT, PRINTER.
MINISTRY AT LARG E.
The Ministry at Large is a new and striking development of the spirit of our religion. And its influence is strengthening,-its operations are enlarging. The idea has taken root in a neighboring city, -our commercial Emporium. And a single society in New York (Rev. Mr Dewey's) has contributed $3000 per annum for the support of a Ministry at large.
There is surely, then, some strength in the seminal thought from which springs out the living plant in such fresh and vigorous growth.
But just in proportion to the strength of this new agency is the importance of thoroughly understanding its character, rightly estimating its claims, checking any tendencies to error it may manifest, and guiding it in the way in which it may work out the glory of God and the good of his children.
Every one, then, interested in the great causes affecting the religious welfare of society, must earnestly seek right answers to such inquiries as the following, respecting the particular charity of which I am speaking, namely, the Ministry to the Poor.
Upon whom does it operate? What objects does it propose, and what does it accomplish? Does it give new
power to the established modes in which Christianity is acting? Does it bring about any peculiar good results lying beyond the sphere of any other active ministry?-In general, does it so benefit the souls of men and so bless the community, that all good citizens should in all ways possible cheer and help it on?
There can be no doubt these points are by many very ill understood. Among those who have examined them, there does not seem to exist perfect uniformity of opinion. Very many are indifferent to the whole matter.
What then is wanted? The answer is plain-Clear statements of facts. These will enlighten ignorance, produce harmony, and wake up those who still slumber and sleep.-In relation to the subject of which I am to speak I have no personal interest, -no peculiar zeal. Yet present circumstances give me an opportunity to investigate it freely and calmly. I hope therefore in some measure to supply what I have already said is wanted-clear statements of facts. The admirable Reports of this Ministry, which have been from time to time presented, certainly contain these. Yet they may not reach many minds that can be reached by familiar and regular communications in a religious paper. And statements so important are needed in greater number where there is such an abundance from which to select.
I therefore propose publishing a series of brief articles under the title of the present communication. It is not designed to make out a systematic treatise on this subject, but for the most part to present cases of interest and significance, as successively they occur, and as they bear on points on which it may be especially needful light should be shed.
UPON WHOM DOES THE MINISTRY AT LARGE
OPERATE? AND HOW ?
In answering these questions as well as any others that may arise, I shall keep as much as possible within the sphere of my own observation. Let me, then, say plainly at the outset, that my remarks will apply chiefly, it may be often only to the northern and middle sections of the city.
There is reason to think some persons greatly in error as to the just general reply to the questions above proposed. I shall, therefore, first make some general statements required by truth.
I say, then, its direct operation is almost exclusively upon the Poor. Not a congregation is assembled in which, at the least, nine out of ten are not from the Poor. But it has a most important indirect operation upon the Rich. I mention here a single mode of this influence. From other societies come Teachers who give generous aid in the Sunday school. They are indeed a part of the ministry itself. And through them, as moral conductors, ever moves to and fro an electric sympathy which does much to preserve all classes in equilibrium.
How does this ministry operate upon the Rich and the Poor? Most beneficially upon both. The various ways in which this influence is exerted, it will be my chief object in succeeding articles to describe. For the purpose already mentioned I will only say here that the great general modes of influence are, as in the established min. istry, visiting and preaching, -and, as in the established ministry, both are deemed of great importance. It has, however, been thought and said, visiting is the great and almost only needful thing. I believe arguments and statistics will show the equal importance of the Chapel,-the equal necessity that 'the Poor have the Gospel preached to them.'
Upon whom does this ministry operate? and how? I have answered the questions in a general way. I shall now proceed to particulars. The great influence is of course exerted upon the Poor. I shall therefore speak, in the first place, of them. Let us consider how they are influenced by the visits of the ministry,- leaving the effect of the preaching to be discussed after this topic has been treated in its several branches. .
There are among the Poor young persons who have been led astray.
An aged infirm man and woman were lately sent to one