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lows :—The ministers of the 212 congregations, contributing at the lower rate, would each receive from the surplus fund £9, 18s. 10d., which, together with the equal dividend of £150, would raise his whole stipend from the Sustentation Fund to close upon £160. And the ministers of the 246 congregations, contributing at the higher rate, would each receive from the surplus fund £19, 178. 8d. ; which, together with his equal dividend of £150, would raise his stipend from the Sustentation Fund to close upon £170. It will, of course, be understood that in making the supposition on which the foregoing calculations bave proceeded, I have not been pointing at the increase to the fund for which I actually look. If the scheme commend itself to the approval of the Assembly, and be vigorously carried out over the Church at large, I anticipate an increase to the fund very greatly in advance of that which, merely for the sake of illustration, I bave just assumed. By that illustration it was my sole object to show that, with even a very limited amount of success, the scheme would be productive of highly important results.
I am quite aware there are some who, while highly approving of this scheme of a surplus fund, and anticipating great things from it, if ouce it were brought fairly into play, are discouraged by the initial difficulty which stands in its way. The initial difficulty which they dread is that of getting the equal dividend up to £150; of getting it up, that is, to the point at which the surplus fund begins to arise and to take effect. They look, in short, on the distance which divides our present equal dividend from the ultimate point of £150, as if it were an impassable gulf never to be got over. But before any one allows himself to be scared by that imagination, let me ask the members of Assembly to consider what that imagination implies. It implies that the intelligence and the conscience of the Church are to remain entirely unmoved by those grave considerations to which reference was made in the earlier part of this address. It implies that our people care so little for the bardships which so many of our ministers and their families at present endure, and are so indifferent to the hurtful consequences to the interests of our Church and to the cause of Christ in this land, that must inevitably follow from the continuance of that state of things, that they will do nothing more for the support of the ministry than they are doing now. If that were true, it would, of course, be conclusive against the success, not only of this particular scheme, but of any scheme in behalf of our great central fund that can be proposed. But I dou't belive that to be true. I believe notbing like that to be true. My frm conviction, on the contrary is, that the only thing wanted in order to evoke the cordial sympathy of our people in support of a movement to make a more adequate provision for the support of the ministry, is, first, to arrest their attention on the subject; to get them to take a fresh look at it, and at their own responsibilities in connexion with it. And next, to bring before them a good plan-a plan based on right and reasonable principles--a plan that will present a wholesome and effective stimulus to the aid-receiving congregations to rise to a bigher rate of giving, and which, by the very fact of its doing so, will powerfully influence and encourage the aid-giving congregations to increase their liberality by giving them the assurance that their enlarged contributions will be chiefly employed in helping those who are the most strenuous in helping themselves. It is under the conviction now expressed that this plan has been prepared, and that I have
used the great liberty of obtruding upon the Assembly this lengthened address regarding it.
May I venture, before sitting down, to speak, most humbly and affectionately, a few words in connexion with this deeply important subject, to my fathers and brethren in the ministry. Hitherto I have been making my appeal, through this Assembly, to the members of the Church. I now make my appeal, beloved brethren and fathers, through our revered and honoured Moderator, to you. In order to the success of the cause I have been pleading, the members of the Church have one duty to discharge, and we have another. If we would entitle ourselves to reap their carnal things, we must be earnest and unwearied in sowing unto them spiritual things. It is “the labourer,” not “the idler," who is worthy of bis hire. It is the true shepherd, who faithfully and lovingly feeds the flock, and not the bireling, who neglects it, who alone has a claim to eat of the milk of the flock. Woe to the shepherds of Israel, who feed themselves, and of whom the Lord has to say, “ The diseased have ye not strengthened, neither have ye healed that which was sick, neither have ye bound up that which was broken, neither bave ye brought again that wbich was driven away, neither have ye sought out that which was lost.” Better, ten thousandfold, that a ministry should be poor, and yet, by its faithfulness," making many rich," than to be rich as to this world, and yet, by its unfaithfulness, “ making many poor.” Would that, like the great apostle, we were “with our people at all seasons, after such a manner,” that, like him, when leaving them, we might be able, each of us, to say, “ Wberefore I take you to record this day that I am pure from the blood of all men.” If this good conscience towards God, as regards our ministry, be not what, at least, we strive and pray to possess, we have no warrant either to expect or to ask even a temporal reward. But if we do this, truly caring for God's people, He will not fail to put it into their bearts to care for us.
In speaking as I have now done, it is very far from my purpose to convey, or to countenance the idea that ministers have no part to perform in the way of directly promoting and working out the scheme before us. Without their personal aid and oversight, it will and can, in many places, make little progress. But what I do especially mean to say to my brethren and to myself is this, that by far the greatest and most lasting impulse we can give to this movement will be that which it indirectly receives from the earnestness and prayerfulness with which we prosecute our pulpit and pastoral labours, and with which we watch for souls as those who must give account. I know, indeed, that this which I have now expressed is the very thought which is deepest in my brethren's minds-deeper far in the minds of many of them than in my own. I have presumed, notwithstanding, to give it utterance, as feeling how much I myself need more vividly and habitually to realise it, and as desiring to give the assurance to our people that, when we venture to press home that great duty of adequately supporting the Christian ministry, which we consider to be binding upon them, we are not 'forgetting that there is a co-relative duty, and one of even greater solemnity, which is equally binding upon us—the duty of taking heed to ourselves, and to all the flock over which the Holy Ghost hath made us overseers, to feed the flock of God which He bath purchased with His own blood.
And now, with a brief word to my esteemed fathers and brethren in the eldership, I shall bring this address to a close. In dealing with such a question as the one now before the Assembly, it needs not to say that the very foremost place does and must belong to you. On such a question you are the natural leaders of the members of the Church. On such a question it is only a certain and limited length to which the ministers can or ought to go. The great Scripture principles bearing on it, they owe it to the great Head of the Church and to you, faithfully and fully to open up and proclaim. As regards, however, the working out of these principles in their practical applications and details, it is to you and your colleagues in the deaconship, at least in all our larger and more important congregations, the Church must chiefly look. The service which, in this department, as in many others, you have already rendered to the Church, it is impossible to over-estimate ; and I confidently anticipate that, if approved and sanctioned by the Assembly, the new effort which it is proposed to make will receive your warm and energetic support. Without this, it must obviously and inevitably fail. If you have no strong sense of the need of such an effort, or no faith in the method of carrying out that effort which the committee have proposed, it were better far to set it at once aside, than thus to go into it without either heart or hope. If we are really to face, as a great duty and necessity-which I honestly and earnestly believe it to be-the work which the proposal on the table places before us, we must do so with our eyes open to the labour and liberality which it will require at our hands. We must keep the broad fact full in view, that if we are to succeed in this noble movement to the whole extent at which it aims, we must contrive to add one-third to the present amount of our contributions. For myself, I mean to do so, and I trust the resolution will be general. At present the income of our fund is about £120,000; and we must raise it to about £160,000. That means that the poor man who gives at present threepence a month to this fund shall henceforth give fourpence; that the man who gives sixpence a month should give eightpence; that the man who gives ninepence should give a shilling; and, ascending to a higher scale of contributions, this proposal means that the man who gives £l a month should henceforth give £1, 6s. 8d. ; that the man who gives £2 should give £2, 138. 4d. ; that the man who gives £6 should give £8; and so on to the highest of the many generous contributions which this fund receives. Of course, there may be found individuals in every congregation who cannot make such an increase as I have now named. But there may also, I trust, be found in every congregation individuals, and these not few, who both can and will go the length of doubling or even trebling their present contributions. In their forward march, the cry of those whom I have described as the natural leaders of the Christian people in such a movement, must be, “Grenadiers, to the front.” The position taken up by the office-bearers will go far to determine the position that will be taken up by the members of the congregations. Above all, and in conclusion—and this I say to ministers, elders, deacons, and members of the Church alike—if we are to enter on this movement, as I earnestly hope we shall, and that with one mind and soul, let us cast ourselves, in carrying it forward, upon Him to whom the silver and the gold belong, and who has the hearts of all men in
His hand, and who has but to touch even the flinty rock and make the waters gush fortb.
Mr WILSON, Dundee, moved—“That the General Assembly approve of and adopt the resolution regarding the increase and distribution of the Sustentation Fund submitted by the Convener of the Sustentation Fund Committee; and authorise and instruct the Committee to make an earnest appeal on behalf of this movement to all the office-bearers and members of the Church, and to use all suitable and competent means to insure its success. Further, the Assembly instruct the Sustentation Fund Committee to meet and prepare a scheme for the visitation of Presbyteries on its behalf, to be submitted to a future diet of this Assembly, with a view to the Assembly appointing special meetings of Presbyteries to confer with deputies from the Sustentation Fund Committee." Mr Wilson said he would not at present address the Assembly, contenting himself with simply proposing the motion ; but if, in the course of the discussion, objections should be stated or difficulties mentioned, he should avail himself of the right of reply, in order, if possible, to remove such objections and difficulties. He would further move what he was sure would meet with the cordial approval of the Assembly, that Dr Buchanan be requested to print and publish the address he had just delivered. (Cheers.)
Mr FERGUSON, (elder,) Dundee, seconded the motion. He cordially joined in the hope expressed by the rev. doctor in introducing the subject, that this matter be looked at in all its bearings, because it is obviously one of very considerable importance, involving, as it does, changes in the administration of this Fund. Whatever might be the reception which the scheme might meet at the hands of that House, and whatever difference of opinion might be developed in the course of the conversation that was now to ensue, there could be no controversy, at all events, that the scheme was inspired by an earnest and generous wish to apply the proper remedy to a great and clamant evil, the inadequate remuneration of the ministry. As to the existence of that evil, unhappily there is no room for doubt; and he very much feared that among those present there might be some who could speak from painful personal experience. He was not going to depreciate the great results which the history of the Sustentation Fund supplies. To do so would be most ungracious toward our people, and ungrateful toward a higher Power. But great as these results bave been, and far surpassing what has been achieved in former days, still the Church has failed to come up to what it was at first proposed to do, when, twenty-four years ago, she with her own bands burst the links that bound her to the State. (Applause.) It was expected, as a reasonable and practicable arrangement, that we should be able to afford a minimum dividend to each minister of £150. Well, twentyfour years have gone, and we have not even yet reached the promise of that time, and if we look back to the vidimus in the preface to the report, it will be found that the dividend is very little more than it was eleven years ago. So far from getting into the promised land, it almost looks as if we had made up our minds to die in the wilderness. (Applause and laughter.) At any rate, unless we get on a little faster than we have been doing, it is pretty clear that the forty years shall have expired before we touch the frontier of the promised land. (Hear, hear.) We have failed hitherto to realise this £150, which, for a quarter of a century, has been dangling before our eyes; and from whatever cause it may be that we have so failed, it cannot be from want of ability on the part of the people. The sum of £6000 additional revenue would bring up the dividend to £150. As Dr Buchanan has stated, we have somewhere about a quarter of a million of members in this Church, and an additional average contribution of a halfpenny a month, or sixpence a year, would bring us up to the sum required ; so that whatever may be the cause of the deficiency, it would be utterly ridiculous to impute it to want of ability on the part of the people. The causes seem to be not very far to seek. In the first place, something, no doubt, is due to the influence of habit. People have got into the habit of giving so much a week, or so much a month ; and they just go on at that rate, affording another illustration of the saying that
“ Evil is wrought for want of thought,
As well as want of heart." (Hear.) Custom has woven its web around them, and it is not easily rent. Then there is another and deeper seated cause, which, no doubt, must be touched upon with delicacy—though it would be false delicacy to ignore it here—and the evil here at once suggests the very direction in which the remedy is to be sought. It might have been predicted on general grounds that among individuals and congregations some would be found evading their fair share in keeping up the Sustentation Fund. The only way to endeavour to get a remedy for this evil under which the Church labours is to get up some scheme which shall afford a test, according to which congregations shall, to some extent, reap in proportion as they have sown. (Hear, hear.) Now, if any gentleman thinks that the scheme which has been prepared by Dr Buchanan is an invasion of the principle of an equal dividend, he ought to remember, in the first place, that if this scheme is to operate at all, the very first thing it would do would be to raise the equal dividend to £150; then, but not till then, a differential plan, as it may be called in the language of commerce, comes into play. Then, in the second place, the fact of a Sustentation Fund is not exhausted by the idea of an equal dividend—it is no such one-sided affair as that. The principle of a Sustentation Fund embodies two ideas, which are the essential correlatives of each other ; one, no doubt, is, that there shall be an equal dividend, but the other is, that all parties shall bear their fair share in the raising of that dividend. (Hear, hear.) It must be first a willing mind, and then, but not till then, that it shall be acoepted according to what a man hath, and not according to what he bath not. (Hear, hear.) This is no new.fangled idea ; the distinguished man to whose genius we owe the conception, and to whose energy we owe the establishment of the Sustentation Fund, in about the last production from his pen on the Economics of the Free Church of Scotland, in a passage commencing with the words, “ There is a pleasure in giving all needful help to parties who at the same time are doing all they can to help themselves," recognises this idea, and says, “The only way in which the two ends are to be met is, that the richer congregations shall give as much as they might, and the poorer seek as little as they might”-in short, that each class shall come “as nearly up to the dividend as they can." That is just the scheme now proposed, and the great beauty of it is, that it makes the right to the Equal Dividend not what the congregations shall raise in the gross but wbat they shall