MANY were surprised that after the widely published announcement that Archbishop Corrigan (Roman Catholic) would take a prominent part in the recent dedication of the Grant Monument, and that he would pronounce the closing benediction,—he was afterward dropped from the arrangement and took no part. The explanation is now at hand. It appears that two of General Grant's sisters caused the change of program. The Primitive Catholic says:—
"Mrs. Virginia Grant Corbin of Newark, and Mrs. J. Cramer of Orange, N.J., both sisters of General Grant, refused most emphatically to attend the ceremonies, if any Roman Catholic prelate should be called upon to bless the sarcophagus and utter any of his benedictions.
"Then the great men in Washington and New York, the generals and patriots composing the committee on ceremonies, exercised much diplomacy and cunning, animated into activity on account of their cringing fear of offending the popish politicians and their master, but it was all of no avail. Those two American women held out; no compromise was possible with the resolute stand they had taken. The committee was obliged to concede the palm of victory to them and avert a national scandal, consisting of a most flagrant breach of trust, against the memory of the dead soldier, against his family and the nation at large."
During President Cleveland's administration the Roman Catholic Church requested a grant of space on government ground at the United States Military Academy at West Point for the erection of a chapel. The permission was given, and forthwith foundations for a large church building were begun. But the press protested so vehemently against the providing of church sites by the general government that the permission was recalled and the work stopped.
The matter has come before the new administration, and it has decided that the church may be built; and that any other denomination desiring to build there shall also be granted a site; but the assumption is that not many Protestant denominations will accept the offer, since few of them would care to spend the money to build a structure that would compare favorably with the one now being started.
Romanism has for years been laboring to stamp its character and influence upon this government. To this end it has spent money liberally at our national Capitol—for the great Catholic College and other church institutions. This move on West Point is in the same line; for, altho comparatively few of the Cadets are Romanists, they recognize that influence upon them will be influence upon a class that some day will wield a pronounced influence in governmental affairs. They are zealous, too, in forwarding the interests of Catholic young men for admission to West Point. Protestants seem to think that Romanism has changed within the last century. She has changed her tactics, but not her principles; and that because she was losing her hold: she changed so as to take a fresh hold on the people's liberties. She will be a prominent figure in the time of trouble and will have the cooperation of many "Protestants" in efforts to maintain "the present social order." Both Protestants and Romanists have for some time been moving to have the United States declared to be a "Christian nation;" and having at last unitedly succeeded, as represented in the decision of the United States Supreme Court, Romanism will be crafty enough to grasp her full share of the power.
The rector of St. Ignatius' Protestant Episcopal Church, New York City, Rev. Arthur Ritchie, edits a monthly church journal. In a recent issue of this paper appears an editorial of which the following is an extract:—
"As a matter of fact, could anything be more utterly contemptible than the great American sects? We do not refer to respectable religions, like the Presbyterian and the Lutheran, the fruit of the travail of the sixteenth century, but such low, time-serving, ignorant superstitions as the Baptist Church, the Methodist Episcopal Church, and the like. In the East these parvenu folk do not dare to raise their heads, or, if they do, they are laughed at for their pains. But no doubt in the West it is different, and quite possibly there a Baptist Minister or a Methodist minister may consider himself as on an equality with the Church clergyman! Should this be the case, a little 'arrogance' and 'superciliousness' would be very useful and highly commendable. Those who boast that they derive their office from the people should be made to know, if not to feel, that they are removed by an infinite chasm from those who derive their mysterious powers from above and are the vicegerents of heaven.
"Of course, in matters non-ecclesiastical there should be Christian politeness shown to every one according to his position in life; but even in such matters dissenting ministers should be made to feel their inferiority.
This minister and editor is not well posted. We can assure him that some Methodist and Baptist congregations have in recent years come nearer to his conceptions of true Christianity,—i.e., become more arrogant and supercilious, and nearer to the Scriptural description of the Laodicean stage of the Church—rich, increased in goods and having need of nothing; and knowing not that they are poor, blind, miserable and naked.—Rev. 3:16-19.
We much regret that all of the arrogance, etc., is not confined to Episcopalians, Presbyterians and Lutherans: and we trust that the truly meek and humble in every quarter of Babylon will give earnest heed to the Lord's words, "Come out of her my people; that ye be not partakers of her sins and that ye receive not of her [chastisements] plagues."—Rev. 18:4.
Not long since The Evening Post (N.Y.) published an article advocating "A Society for the Decrease of the Ministry." Some of the arguments for fewer ministers were: "the all-pervasive restlessness and discontent" of the ministry, so great that "a prominent officer of a missionary society is reported to have said that in all his visitations of the clergy of a certain State he had failed to discover a single incumbent who did not wish to make a change;" "the underlying anxiety for prospective bread and butter;" the disgraceful "scramble for place," so that "a certain Congregational church in Connecticut, with by no means an inviting future, received not less than two hundred and fifty applications, scattered all the way from Maine to California;" the existence of a "dead line" beyond fifty years of age; and the growing "commercial basis of modern church life."
This question, started in England, is being much discussed here also. The World (N.Y.) has interviewed some of the leading ministers and college professors on the subject, and we subjoin extracts from some of their replies:—
The President of Andover Seminary, Rev. George Harris, D.D., said,—"It is undoubtedly true that the ranks of the ministry are at present overcrowded. The number of unemployed clergymen is increased somewhat by reason of the protracted depression of business. Some of the small churches are not able to pay a living salary, and the missionary societies are obliged to reduce their working forces."
Rev. Dr. George Hodges of Episcopal Theological School, Harvard University, says,—"It is true that every desirable vacant parish is pursued by an eager crowd of parsons, some of them being out of employment, others being discontented with their cures. It is true also that after middle life many ministers find the door of opportunity shut in their faces."
"Rev. Lewis W. Mudge, D.D., Princeton, N.J., says,—"The spirit of unrest so manifest in churches and among ministers is seen also in other professions and in business circles, and is the outcome of financial and social conditions."
Prof. Edward L. Curtis, Yale Theological Seminary, says,—"The complaint that there is an over-supply of ministers might be made of any of the learned [R2169 : page 176] professions as much as of the ministry.
"I do believe, however, that such schools as the Moody School and others of that kind, where only the English branches are taught, have had a tendency to send men into the ministry only partially equipped for the work, and that it has had a tendency to bring about a competition not desirable."
Dr. James O. Murray, Dean of Princeton University, says,—"What the Church wants is a higher intellectual standard. There are too many men in the ministry that could not prosper at anything else and do not succeed here."
Rev. Dr. John Hall said,—"Regarding an over-supply of ministers much may be said that is true, but no more true than of other professions....What we need in the nation is not a reduction in the number of ministers, but an increase of spiritual power, of fidelity to the Master, of the teaching and preaching of the glorious gospel, and of reliance on the guidance of the holy spirit in the hearts of people and pastors."
We agree with Dr. Hall, that there are not too many ministers of the right kind: there are merely too many professional ministers. Every fully consecrated, [R2169 : page 177] humble Christian is a member of the "royal priesthood," commissioned to minister (serve) the truth to all who have ears to hear; to be ambassadors for God; to show forth the praises of him who has called them out of darkness into his marvelous light. Such were the ministers of the primitive Church, and there cannot be too many of these God-ordained ministers of the Sanctuary, who labor not for filthy lucre's sake, but gather fruit unto eternal life and await the Master's—"Well done, good and faithful servant [minister], enter into the joys of thy Lord."
The harvest is great and such laborers are far too few. Pray ye the Lord of the harvest that he will send forth more laborers into his vineyard; and seek and pray that you yourself may be one of them. Of such ministers it is written: "They shall be all taught of God."
The Salvation Army in Great Britain has recently had a "self-denial week," the results of which are announced to be $124,000. This is the second week of the kind within a year. When returns are received from other parts of the world it is expected that the total will be a quarter of a million dollars.
We greatly admire the zeal of the "Army," and recommend that special efforts be made to put "present truth" before them favorably. We wonder whether clearer knowledge of the Lord and his goodness and gracious plan would lead them as it ought to redoubled energy in the service of so gracious a Master, or whether it would cool their ardor and self-denial. The truth is a crucial test of our consecration, true love and devotion to our Lord. He seeketh such as worship and serve him in spirit and in truth—from love, not from fear. Let each reader ask himself, How is it with me?