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The prolonged battle that has waged over the question of opening the World's Columbian Exposition on the Sabbath, completely embodied the various reasons and excuses that are constantly met with and urged in justification of the desecration of the Lord's Day. The great educational and informing opportunities there to be found were dwelt upon with mock unction and solemn pretence, and the alleged deprivations of the poor workingmen, shut out, as was claimed, from any chance to visit this great school for the people with its gates closed on the Sabbath, were movingly depicted. But when, at last, Congress, responsive to the urgent and importunate appeals of Christian men and women everywhere, made conditional further national aid upon the presentation of a typical American Sabbath in connection with all other exhibits peculiar to our land, nothing more was heard of all this specious reasoning. It became at once a cold calculation in money making; a figuring up as to whether so many Sundays' gate receipts, less the expenses, would equal the aid voted from the nation's treasury. It was a simple sum in arithmetic, a question of profit and loss - only this and nothing more. The welfare of the workingman or anybody else had as little consideration as the command of God. Neither were worth a rush. Had this grave question been left to the decision of the managers of that great exhibition, its gates would have been flung wide open on the Sabbath ; excursion trains would have crowded each other on every line of railway having any connection with Chicago; the country within a circle's radius of two hundred and fifty miles would have been swept well nigh clean of its population upon successive Sundays, attracted by greatly reduced rates of fare and every enticing allurement that the ingenuity of man could devise. The resulting demoralization as to the observance of the Sabbath would have been appalling. And as it was, even in Congress, the decision long hung in doubtful balance. Th« history of this struggle emphasizes anew the importance of arousing the conscience of the church, informing the masses of the people as to the dangers that await them in giving over the Sabba h to secular pursuits, and everywhere holding up before men the commandment of God, desigued only for their good, and insisting that it ought to be obeyed.
III. And this leads us to inquire as to what needs to be lone. Plainly the work of reform must begin in the church, for ther: has been a lamentable and distinct lapse in that quarter. One if its
chief bulwarks is assailed and is in serious danger. It cannot condemn practices in which its own members are largely involved. “ Physician heal thyself” will be the scornful and conclusive reply that will be made to every remonstrance, and that will hopelessly shut the door in the face of every opportunity for otherwise successful appeal. All participation in methods and business that involve a desecration of the Sabbath should be studiously avoided on the part of every Christian man. Sunday travelling, partial or entire, for business purposes, should be strictly discountenanced. Advertising in the Sunday newspaper should cease. Our duties in connection with Sabbath-breaking corporations, and our use of the multiplied daily conveniences of life which are too easily allowed to invade holy time, should be taken into careful consideration with a view to bringing the work of the Lord's Day, whether imposed upon ourselves or upon others, clearly within the limits of necessity or mercy. This should be done with the sincere desire to honor God. Seeking His guidance, we may be sure that we sball not be suffered to go astray. Who can doubt that if the church thus rallied everywhere to the defence of an imperilled Sabbath, her testimony against its prevailing desecration would be listened to with profound respect, and her appeals would no longer fall upon unheeding ears.
Nor should our own observance of the Lord's Day be formal or perfunctory. It should be a glad and cheerful joining in the worship and praise of an infinite Benefactor and Friend. We should throng His courts with a desire to honor Him in the sight of all men, and to be instructed in all that pertains to that kingdom which, begun on earth, reaches on into ages incalculable and eternal. With our citizenship already in another country, even heavenly, we ought with the more consuming desire to seek to grow familiar with its speech, to learn of its laws, to catch its spirit, and to know more of Him whom to know aright is life eternal. They who thus seek shall surely find. They who thus wait upon God shall be blessed of Him, and unto them will He be so revealed that they will be won to His presence with ever increasing profit and delight. The church in such attitude found the problem of the second service,” of which we are of late hearing a good deal, would be no longer so much as mentioned. And the world around, taking knowledge of our steadfastness, our devout joy and our faithful attendance upon the means of grace, would be
attracted to see and to inquire what it is that so fastens our attention, kindles our hope, and enthrals our desire, and witnessing our good confession would themselves be persuaded.
Thus aflame with love to God, and joyfully obedient to His commands, the church could go forth to vindicate anew the sacredness of His Sabbath, now so widely trampled under foot, and to lift up before men everywhere the admonition sounded forth amid the thunderings and lightnings of Sinai --"REMEMBER the Sabbath day to keep it holy!” And then, turning to the “ exceeding great and precious promises,” which are held out to encourage men in ways of obedience, the church could proclaim in the hearing of this nation — so wonderfully born, so providentially guided, so graciously preserved - the words of Divine appeal, uttered long ago, and yet having a pertinence and a persuasiveness as if they were but of yesterday:
“If thou turn away thy foot from the sabbath, from doing thy pleasure on my holy day; and call the sabbath a delight, the holy of the Lord, honourable ; and shalt honour him, not doing thine own ways, nor finding thine own pleasure, nor speaking thine own words :
" Then shalt thou delight thyself in the Lord ; and will cause thee to ride upon the high places of the earth, and feed thee with the heritage of Jacob thy father : for the mouth of the Lord hath spoken it.”
Surely, for such a consummation for the church of God, and for our beloved land, we ought unceasingly to labor and devoutly to pray!
H. E. BAKER,
REPORT OF THE COMMITTEE ON THE RELATION OF OUR BENEVOLENT SOCIETIES TO EACH OTHER.1
THE undersigned committee was appointed by the last National Council under the following resolution :
“Resolved, That a committee of nine, to be composed of men known to be in active sympathy with our various benevolent 80cieties, but not identified with the administration of any of them, be appointed to consider the relations of our benevolent societies
to each other, and to see whether there cannot be some re-adjustment of the work of the societies in the home field so as to bring about more unity and economy of labor, and to use their best endeavors in coöperation with the officers of these societies, to secure this re-adjustment as speedily as possible, if, after careful consideration of the whole question, it shall seem better to do so.”
After careful consideration of the whole subject we respectfully offer the following report:
I. We recognize the reasonableness and timeliness of the above resolution. The re-adjustment of the work of our benevolent societies in the home field seems theoretically desirable. Ideal unity of system, and harmony, economy and efficiency must always be important objective points in carrying on the work of the kingdom of God. We are profoundly impressed with the essential need of harmony and sympathy between Christian societies working in the same field. We also distinctly recognize not only the natural liability to, but the actual fact of some friction between some of our societies, both in the West and South.
The question of economy in maintaining seven societies, as compared with that of only two or three, may also be an open question. The question of the best way to promote the highest efficiency in all departments of our work, as, for example, in the college department of the American College and Education Society, or the work of the American Missionary Association among the Indians, is one which must often be discussed and re-adjusted by Christian men.
II. To meet difficulties along these lines, various expedients have been suggested. Some have proposed the consolidation of some of our societies, so as to reduce the number of agencies and thus promote both harmony and economy by having only one society in each field. Others have suggested the separation of church and school work, giving all the former to one society and the latter to another. Others still suggest the appointment of standing committee of reference with whom all the societies could communicate, and whose duty it should be to arbitrate between societies when questions of difficulty arose.
III. With all these considerations before them, your committee have tried to obtain light from every quarter. They have solicited and obtained the full official views of all the societies concerned, not only as to their relation to each other, but also on the general question of expediency and efficiency in the entire work. Having thus looked over the whole field, we are prepared to offer the following facts and recommendations.
We are impressed with the significance of the fact that our benevolent societies for home work have come to their present status through a natural process of life in the development of the mission of our churches as related to our national history. They have not been arbitrarily appointed by ecclesiastical authority, but have sprung into being in obedience to great spiritual and social forces. They have stepped one by one upon the providential field when called of God, and have fought and wrought along lines indicated by the exigent needs of the republic and the kingdom of Christ. Each has had its own memorable and beneficent history. In connection with the work and the modes of each, have grown up personal affiliations and heroic traditions, a most valuable esprit de corps and an attached and powerful constituency. These societies are like army corps, which are in danger of a loss of morale if the old leaders and standards should be taken away. Inseparable from this origin and history there has resulted independence in the councils of these societies and specialization of their methods. Here, as elsewhere, increasing complexity and differentiation of functions is a law of life.
It is necessary, therefore, to remember in making changes that we are dealing with organisms, not machines, and that each of these societies has as a part of its life an historic consciousness and in some degree a separate constituency. With this view of the case before us, we still believe that changes will be demanded and must come in the future that will systematize and unify our benevolent work ; but it is our conviction that they must come gradually, as the result of natural development. It is with the purpose of leading up to this, and giving opportunity for it, that we make the recommendations with which this report closes. It is but just to say that considerable favor was shown in your committee toward the suggestion of a speedy change in the administration of the College and Education Society, looking to a consolidation of that organization with the New West Education Com. mission. The reasons for this feeling, lie (1) in the fact that the work of the two societies is similar in kind; (2) the observed ratio of expense of administration to the amount administereil by these two organizations makes it probable that consolidation would be