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PROTESTANT UNION, souls. The rest are now alive, and do honour to their profession, by an exemplary holy life and conversution.”
The above extract is signed by the parish-clerk, six elders, and deacons.
N. B. Here were nine years proof of the grace of God haring changed their hearts, in keeping them unspotted in the world. O! for such glorious gospel-days again in that land, once so highly favoured with gospel-inessengers, and gospelgrace!
I am, Sir, yours, Pimlico.
To the Editor. Wule the concerns of the soul are incomparably more inportant than those of the body, a due attention to the temporal welfare of our fellow-creatures is indispensable to that philanthropy which originates in the love of God our Saviour. I rejoice, therefore, that, among the various plans for the Lord's glory and the benefit of human kind, which the Evangelical Magazine has been instruinental to promote, that of the Protestant Union, for the support of ministers' widows and children, is to be numbered. I rejoice also to learn, that so benevolent an object has succeeded, in one respect, beyond the hopes of its most sanguine friends; so that, within little more than four years from its institution, a prospect arises of increasing the annual support that
be allowed to the widowy of deceased ministers.
The plan of this society may, therefore, be considered no longer as merely an experiment, but so demonstrated to be effectually adapted to the advantage of its members. The firmer its foundation, and the more beneficial its consequences, the more earnestly it is to be wished that a greater number of necessitous, yet respectable persons, night share its happy effects. These are, at present, extremely circumscribed; and I apprehend will becoine still more so, in proportion to the duration of the society, except an essential error in its original regulations can be seasonably corrected.. Having consulted with some of the most active members of the Protestiilit Union on the subject, it appears that such an amendment cannot properly be adopted, without the implied consent of the subscribers at large. I have, therefore, by the recommendation of other friends of the institution, resolved to urge so important a measure upon the general attention, by the channel of your Nagazine, that the members of the society may be prepared for ins discussion at their approaching annual meeting.
The present number of those who are likely to derive benefit from this excellent instituțion, is very smalt, compared with
the multitude who are liable to feel the need of its relief: and even this small number is most probably composed, in a principal measure, of those persons who would be less affected than others by the want of it. These remarks derive confirmation from the comparatively few ministers who have subscribed, that their surviving families might reap the benefits of the institution; and froin the probable proportion of those among them, who possess some property, independent of their salaries as ministers. I venture to ascribe these facts to an error in the original regulations; an error which was foreseen and pointed out, at an early period, by some of the trustees; and which, I apprehend, has now received full demonstration from experience. While ministers were required to pay a sum, from five to three guineas, annually, in order to procure a future and contingent advantage to their families, the trustees were conscious that the usual salaries of Evangelical Ministers, whether in or out of the established church, are inadequate to such a sacrifice. In a note annexed to the rules of the society, it was therefore observed, that “these sums were expected to be raised by collections in the congregations whose ministers became members of the Protestant Union.” Its founders seem to have been led to this expectation, by a charitable supposition, that congregations were animated by disinterested liberality; for it is evident that such collections would produce no manner of benefit to the congregations that raised them, if their minister should remove to another; which so frequently occurs, that it may always be reasonably apprehended. It is also to be considered, that evangelical congregations are seldom very rich. It is often difficult for them to raise the miserable pittance by which their ministers, who have families, are preserved from starving. They might indeed be excited to club their weekly pence, to insure themselves against seeing the widow and children absolutely perish before their doors, at a future period, when it would be out of their power to help them; but it is wholly uncertain, at present, whether their exertions would prevent such a catastrophe. After contributing for ten or twenty years, their minister might remove (for it might in some cases be his duty); and if he should be succeeded by a minister disqualified to become a member of the Protestant Union, all their past sacrifices would be ineffectual. In some cases, they doubtless might raise, among them, lis subscription to the fund, with no great inconvenience to themselves; and I hope, for the honour of the gospel, that such instances are to be found: but I know not a sinzic case, in which a congregation has subscribed for their minister. Erery poor minister, within my own knowledge, who is member of the Protestant Union, has been enabled to become so by external and incidental assistance. If there are exceptions, they deserve to be honourably distivguislied; but I do not see how they are to be
158 made known, for the imitation of others, while the minister only can be acknowledged as the subscriber.
On these grounds, and on more than your limits will admit me to allege, I would earnestly recommend to all the members of the Protestant Union, to enlarge the sphere of its usefulness, by admitting congregations to subscribe, as distinct bodies, upon the terms that the widows and children of those ininisters, whoever they may be, that terminate their labours in a stated connexion with them, shall reap the benefit accruing from their subscriptions. The ministers who remove from such congregations, may be allowed to continue subscribers in their own names, if they are able to do so, and were not individually disqualified previous to the subscription of their congregations. Ministers who are already, or who may hereafter become members of the Protestant Union, if they form a connexion with such congregations, will of course be relieved, for the time they remain in that connexion, from their personal subscriptions. If any congregation, through particular circumstances, should prefer to raise at once a sum that may entitle thein, without farther subscriptions, to the relief of their ministers' family, four times as much as the annuity that would be due to his widow, may be accepted in full of all demands.
If I could foresee any disadvantage, or hazard, liable to arise from such an alteration in the rules of the society, I would fairly state it; but I am not aware of any.
such should occur to others, I beg them seriously to consider whether it is not greatly overbalanced by the following obvious benefits that would result.
1. The plan of the Protestant Union would be rendered consistent with what is evidently its fundamental principle. It depends for its main support, not upon disinterested beneficence, but upon reciprocal advantage. Its members are called upon to make a moderate present sacrifice, in the hope of an adequate future benefit. Yet it calls for support from congregations at present, without affording any security for such a retribution. This inconsistency will be obviated by the proposed alteration. Congregations, like other subscribers, will become interested in its support.
2. It will be established and enlarged in its sphere of usefulness, by increasing (I trust very greatly) the number of stated contributions. Supposing that, exclusive of other denominations, there are 1200 dissenting congregations in Great Britain, and that one half of these should become subscribers, in an equal proportion of the different classes, it would add 2400 guineas to the income of the Society. Every one may diminish or augment this calculation, according to his own judgment. No one, I imagine, will dispute that the additional support would be considerable. 3. It will increase its real usefulness in a still greater propor
tion than its apparent success, because the relief thus administered will be afforded to those persons who are in the most urgent need of it, and not to families that possess independent property, as is probably, in a great measure, the case at present.
4. It will excite many persons to new exertions of beneficence. Supposing the sum above-mentioned to be added to the funds of the society, five-sixths of it, or 2000 guineas, may be fairly considered as clear gain to the cause of liberality, and to the support of ministers of the gospel. The annual subscriptions that congregations would raise, to prevent the future incumbrance, or want, of the families of their ministers, will not, without such a motive, be raised to increase the salaries, greatly as such an augmentation is required by the increase of unavoidable expences.
5. It will tend to promote the harmony, and to establish the union of ministers with their people, by their reciprocal benevolence and interest.
6. It will open a door for many ministers to derive advantages from the Protestant Union, who are otherwise irrevocably excluded from it, merely because they were incapable of becoming members within the limited time after its establishment, or after their own ordinations. This, I apprehend, will be not merely of advantage to them, but to the Protestant Union likewise; as there is, at present, a strong inducement to form similar institutions for their relief.
7. It will afford encouragement to young ministers to qualify themselves as subscribers before the proper term elapses, because they may expect, that when an increase of their families renders it most difficult for them to continue their subscriptions, they will be relieved from that burden by the congregations with which they settle; and because they will then be authorized to renew the subscriptions in their own name, if they should find it necessary to remove.
An English minister happening to be in France, in the year 1683, when Louis XIV. destroyed the religious liberties of the Protestants, gave the following account of a day of humiliation, kept at Charenton :- They met early in the morning, and continued their worship till night, - ministers and people being under the deepest impressions of sorrow and fear. Towards the close of the day, an eminent minister described ta them, in a lively manner, the excellency of that pure and undefiled religion which they had so long enjoyed, and the dreadful loss tiey were likely to sustain. Floods of tears disabled
PRAYER OF THE REV. MR. LAVATER.
155 him from speaking, and the people from hearing. After a considerable pause, he attempted to resume the subject; but was again interrupted by the extreme sorrow which overwhelmed the people. Upon which, he turned his discourse into prayer ; and, with peculiar liberty and fervour, intreated a lenghtening out of their tranquillity; – humbly confessed their sins, and the justice of God in their punishinient;- and then, having laid themselves at his feet, by a solemn act of resignation, proceeded earnestly to pray, That if the Lord saw fit to suffer the carcases of that generation to fall in the wilderness, that he would revive his work in the next, so that it might gloriously appear to their children; - to which the whole congregation gave their assent by a loud Amen.
May we, not hope that these, and a thousand more such prayers, are come up for a memorial before God?--that he has appointed a set time, and will remember them? Doubtless, the pious reader will unite his supplications with theirs, and beg that the Lord will shine upon his desolate sanctuary in France and Belgium.
PRA Y ER
ON HIS BEING CALLED TO THE MINISTRY.
O My Creator and Father! How great is thy goodness towards me! How often and how readily dost thou give me the desires of my heart! All the wishes of my soul begin to be fulfilled, as soon as I pour them into thy parental heart with sincerity and simplicity. I adore thee, O thou dearest, best, and tene derest Father! How unwearied are thy exertions to strengthen my confidence in thee, to unite me to thee, to fill my inmost soul with peace, happiness, and godly simplicity, and to increase my zeal for every good work! O that I were more worthy of thy love, more sanctified, more blameless in all my walk and conversation! Olet that mind be in me which was also in Christ Jesus, thy Son! Behold, now I receive out of thy hand a small place, where I shall have the favour publicly to preach thy gospel; to instruct souls, for whom Jesus Christ, thy Son, died; to warn them against sin as the most destructive evil; and to'exhort them to Christian virtue and real godliness, which has the promise of the life that now is, and of that which is to come.
Thou knowest, Father, how readily I embrace this opporturity of doing good; how my very heart rejoices that I am now