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possibility? There is now no facility for concert of action. If a measure of vital importance to public morals were pending in Congress or a state legislature, and the moral and Christian sentiment of the nation were a substantial unit for or against it, there is no organization through which it could promptly and effectively act. We must expect crises, state and national, when such an organization will be imperatively needed. Indeed, such exigencies are so clearly in sight, that such an organization ought to be near at hand. The enemies of the Christian Sabbath are organizing in several states for the express purpose of breaking down our Sabbath laws. To a united front we need to oppose a united front. If we had local alliances in every community, a few days would suffice to cover a state with documents and bring to bear upon legislatures a pressure which would be irresistible.
Another illustration of the need of a comprehensive organization, which will make possible the co-operation of our Protestant churches, is the attack upon our public school system, the attempt to pervert public funds to the support of sectarian schools. The Alliance has abundant evidence that this is the fixed purpose of Ultramontanism in the United States, a policy which is fraught with imminent danger to our free institutions.
The common school is the principal digestive organ of the body politic. It does more than anything else to assimilate the children of the immigrant. In the common school these children of European peasants are the peers of any. They breathe a new atmosphere of self-respect and independence, and are taught to think. With such a training there is little danger of their being made the minions of a foreign potentate.
The parochial school would build a wall around these children and separate them from Americanizing influences, would make of Irish children Irish men, of German children German men. Our land is broad enough for a thousand million Americans, born in whatever land, but not large enough for these diverse elements among us which refuse to be of us.
If our organization for Christian co-operation proposed for itself no other objects, the defense of cherished and endangered institutions and the prosecution of moral reforms would amply justify its existence. But high as these aims are, they are not the highest. Let us not misunderstand ourselves, or mistake the true hiding of our power. If this movement is to have a profound meaning; if it is to meet the mighty emergency of the times; if it is to do what must be done, penetrate the very heart of the nation with purifying and saving power; if it is to give direction to the new life which is quickening the millions—it mušt lay hold of motives and of might which are higher than human. It is true, the only way to elevate our civilization is to elevate our citizens. The only way to save institutions is to save men. But we shall not save men if we seek them for the sake of our institutions and our civilization. They were made for man, not man for them. And we shall fail of the lower unless we aim at and achieve the higher.
Christ did not die to save our country; his agony was not for institutions. He did not leave the glory which he had with the Father before the world was 'to save magnificent business blocks from the frenzy of a vandal mob. He died for every man. Our government, our civilization, our cherished American institutions, the legacy of the fathers—dear as they are to us—are only a part of the scaffolding of that temple which God is rearing in the earth, built of living stones, fashioned after the similitude of the headstone of the corner. And that shall abide. It was these eternal values which inspired the life and death of the Son of God, and such has been the inspiration of the great movements and the great men that have regenerated society. Divine motives are accompanied with divine power.
When John Knox in travail of soul exclaimed, “Give me Scotland or I die!” it was the salvation of men for which he agonized. It is when men thus enter into fullness of sympathy with the saving God that they are made the mighty instruments of that power which in heaven and earth has been given to the Lord, Christ.
CO-OPERATION IN SMALL CITIES.
OSWEGO, N. Y.
MR. CHAIRMAN, BRETHREN AND FATHERS: So far as there is anything peculiar in this method of Christian labor on the part of the churches, it had its spring from the association of nearly a dozen pastors, somewhat through correspondence, under the leadership of a gentlemar and father whom I delight to name, Rev. S. A. Bronson, an Episcopal clergyman of Ohio, for fifteen years the President of Gambier College, a man filled with the Holy Spirit, now eightyfive years of age, with natural powers almost unabated—a man singularly skillful in methods of organization. Personally, I have felt that I have sometimes received a great deal more credit in this matter than I deserve. These ministers, in sacred association with this man, lamented, through weekly meetings that lasted half a year, over the spectacle of the lack of Christian work in the average community—the masses being unreached; and the question arose to their minds how the difficulty could be remedied. The inefficiency of revivals; the fact that of Christian work the churches do some; that evangelists and revivalists must do some; that some is relegated to other bodies; that lodges and other organizations must do some of it—all this was present to their minds. They saw that the churches were not doing it, or that, when they were doing it here and there, spontaneously, it seemed as though they were working at a disadvantage; that an isolated church was endeavoring to work the whole field, while the whole field did not belong to one church; and it seemed as though no church could do its own work well, unless it was also assisting in doing the work of all the churches in a given community.
The association of pastors, to which I have already referred, made a computation of how many workers would fit a certain field or territory, and discussed the question whether to organize these
workers first, or to arrange the map of the territory first, and match the workers to the work. This subject was long and carefully studied, and it was thought that, if the territory were divided into districts of one hundred houses each, which might lie right along on one side of the street, and if these districts were subdivided into “ fields" having ten dwellings each, and a field assigned to each worker, the greatest practicable amount of good might be effected. In places where a large Catholic community was known to be, the number of workers could be increased. Then, if for every one hundred church members there could be drawn ten workers who would visit from house to house, with a director chosen from the same one hundred church members, who would efficiently lead them, apportion to them their respective fields, and watch over their reports and instruct and encourage them in their practical work, it was believed that this would be the most efficient and orderly plan of organization. Where there was a fraction of a hundred church members-exceeding fifty, in addition to the full hundreds—then another director and another set of ten workers should be chosen from that fraction.
It was found by experience that in the choice of these ten, it would be well to choose fifteen, because some are "going visiting," and some “don't want to," and some “càn't ”—which is the meanest “cant” ever uttered. [Laughter and applause.] So it was found that if we counted the workers by fifteens, instead of tens, and held a third of them for a reserve force, we should be ready.
These ministers were united; their hearts were together; they had lamented over the matter together. They had decided not to call their church a “field " again. It is not their field; it is their force. The outlying community is their “field.” They concluded that they were the representatives of this force, and had been appointed-called of God—to set them to work—thundering into their ears the admonition to go into the lanes and highways and compel people to come in; to say to every active member of their church that it was his or her duty to go at this work. They had lamented over the fact that often when they had pronounced the benediction and the congregation had gone out, many a pastor had gone down into his own heart, and after meditation had found himself involuntarily saying: “ There, I have preached the gospel to the very people in this community who need it the least, while the people in this community who need it the most I do not preach to; I cannot get at them.”
So these pastors made their arrangements. They chose their supervisors. They brought them together. Some of these men were deacons and some were not. They were all bright men, however, devout men, business-men-men that we felt would persevere. They came together—thirty-two of them, with nine or ten pastors. We had a pretty good meeting. We told these gentlemen what we proposed to do—that we proposed to organize these forces that had been given to us, and put them into the field, and so work them that we would not have to blush for the fact that right in the sound of our church bells were families living, into whose presence the gospel had never been carried.
Some said it was impracticable. Others said, “We tried a canvass here a few years ago and got papers and everything printed, but it fell flat. I do not believe in it.” “Well,” we said, “but this is not a canvass. This is a thing to be perpetuated. This is not a revival.” The terrible thing about a revival is, that it stops. The “boxes” get hot, and the train stops. We thought we would try not to get the boxes hot, but to let the train go right ahead, steadily, but so that it would reach every house.
The supervisors said “Amen,” and went ahead with the work. It was asked what should be done with the Catholics. We said we would do the best we could for them. It is a wonderful population—the Catholic population in Oswego. I never saw any Catholic population so unbigoted, or having priests so unbigoted. It fell to my lot to visit three priests on my side of the river. Two of them “did not know anything about it,” and were apparently serene and unruffled about the condition of things. But one of them said, “If you can find some good-for-nothing Catholics that nothing can be done with, send them to me, and I know that I can point out to you a good many good-for-nothing Presbyterians, and when I find any such I will send them to you." (Laughter.] Ever since that time, when he has met me that priest has said “ Good morning, Father," and I have returned the compliment. But he said to me, “ Our church relations are such that we cannot unite with you.” I said “All right; then I promise you that as an organization, when we have made our first canvass we will not instruct our workers to continue their visits on your families; we will leave you out.