Extract from a Circular Letter of the Baptist Georgia Association, in America, for 1808.
"THE church in conference assembled, The deacon arose and said, It is time, brethren, to make up something for the support of our minister, (offering a subscription) whereupon, A said, he thought it to be a matter of mere charity, and (as charity begins at home) he was bound to provide for his own; at any rate, be thought the minister to be as well off as he and many of his brethren were, and, therefore, considered himself under no obligation. B replied, that it could not be a matter of charity at all, since the laws of nature and of God enjoined it; and their own call of the brother, made it a matter of moral obligation. C alleged, that he had subscribed liberally to a useful institution, and must be excused in that case. D said, he had assisted freely in building the meeting house, and must have time to recover it. E rejoined, he had been building houses, or mills, and had no money left for any purpose. F said, he had a son lately married, and it had called for all lhe could raise. G stated, that he had made several contracts, and feared that he should not be able to meet them, &c. H arose, and said he was very much astonished at the pleas urged; as if liberalities to other institutions, aiding to build meeting houses, erecting costly houses, making sumptuous marriages, or contracts to amass wealth, could exonerate from a positive duty. I >I remarked, he had made a short crop, and had nothing to spare; to which agreed J,K, L, and M, N said, he was poor, and though willing, was unable to do any thing, with whomO, P, and Q agreed. R stated, that short crops, and poverty, might excuse from doing much, but could be no just plea for doing nothing; since it is required according to what he has, and not according to what he has not. S said, he never subscribed to any paper. To whom T said, 'Yes, brother, I am for none of this obligation, if I get any thing to spare, I will give it, and be done with it.' V, W, X, and Y, alleged, that they thought it rather dangerous to give liberally, lest they should make their minister proud, and so hinder his usefulness, &c.
Z, rising soberly, said, he had attended to what had been said on the subject, and was grieved in spirit to hear so many objections to the discharge of a reasonable and just duty: he feared that a spirit of pride and covetousness, had disposed them to serve themselves of the good things of God, without returning him one thankful offering: he wondered how Christians could expect the continuance of the blessings of life, who are more abusive of, and unthankful for them, than heathens who never use any of a new crop, till they have offered the first fruits to the Giver of all good. To the brethren, who are so afraid of spoiling the minister by liberalities, he said, 'Are not your sons and daughters as lovely, and their souls as precious in your sight as your minister? If so, why do you not govern them by the same rule; and when the sons request superfines to wear, high-prized gaily horses, and fifty or sixty dollar saddles to ride, and the daughters lutestring dresses with trails from three to five feet in length, fine bonnets and feathers, and other costly equipage of dress, Why do you not say, "No my lovely children these will make you proud and ruin you." No, your families can be, and appear in all the fashionable elegance of dress, and your boards loaded with all the luxuries of life, without adverting to the evil consequences of such conduct. I would,' said he, 'that brethren would be consistent. Dear brethren, the spirit and result of the above are often seen in the face of your subscription papers. Thus we see annexed to some names, ten dollars; to others five, others one, and others nothing; some giving, and others withholding more than is meet; by which it much oftener happens that the preacher is like the colt tied where two ways meet, than likely to be exalted by the abundance of your liberality. And, indeed, if any of you think the standing and usefulness of your minister depend on his poverty, we would advise you to be liberal to him, that he may be proven, and stand in his true light; and, especially, we recommend this measure, as thereby you will have done your duty, and relieved a poor minister of God on the one hand, or have detected a hypocrite, freed the church of a pest, and the world of an impostor, on the other. The faithful servant of Christ, instead of being haughty, would be humbled by the abounding of your liberality. How relieved and comforted would the poor minister be, if his brethren were to say to him, as a late meek old minister, said to a young one on his commencing the ministry." "Go on, my brother, in the cause of your Master, and be not anxious about the family, for they shall never suffer as long as I live." But we speak not with respect to want, or that we desire a gift, but, that you may have fruit, which may abound to your account, to praise, and honour, at the coming of Christ, the chief Shepherd. - Philippians iv. 11-17.
[From The Baptist Magazine, 1815, pp. 507-508.]
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