John S. C. (John Stevens Cabot) Abbott.

An address to the Christian public, especially to the ministers and members of the Presbyterian, Reformed Dutch, and Congregational churches, throughout the United States : on the subject of the proposed union between the American Board of Commissioners for Foreign Missions and the United Foreign Mi online

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Online LibraryJohn S. C. (John Stevens Cabot) AbbottAn address to the Christian public, especially to the ministers and members of the Presbyterian, Reformed Dutch, and Congregational churches, throughout the United States : on the subject of the proposed union between the American Board of Commissioners for Foreign Missions and the United Foreign Mi → online text (page 8 of 31)
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American Board, a reason is seen why the average annual increase in the
receipts of the Board was diminished at the rate of some two thousand dol-
lars. For the actual falling off amounted to no more than a diminution to
that extent, in the rate of increase. Supposing this to be one of the princi-
pal causes, it ought then to appear that the rate of increase has been better
sustained in New England, than it has been elsewhere. And this fact is
apparent in the tables.f The increase of donations from New England has
been nearly, if not quite, in the ratio of the increased expenditure.

5. Farther light is thrown on the subject, when we look at the progress of
the home missionary enterprise, during this period. J It has been already
stated, as a result of these investigations, that the foreign missionary enter-
prise, in its larger view, has had but a slow increase during the past sixteen
years, the average annual rate, within the range of our present inquiries, not
having exceeded $35 000. But when we embrace home missions in our
view, we see that the spirit of missions, the benevolent spirit common to both
great branches of the enterprise, has had a somewhat more rapid growth.
The general summary view, in the table entitled " Growth of Foreign and
Home Missions," § shows that in the first period, from 18.36 to 1839, the
receipts of the foreign and home missions were of almost identically the
same amount, the respective sums being $1,204,000, and $1,187,000. But
in the last period, from 1818 to 1851, the receipts for home missions exceeded
those for foreign missions by $385,000. The sums were $1,7U3,000, and
$2,131,000. The increase of the one had been $559,000, while that of the
other was $944,000. An important item of this increase was in the colpor-
tage of the Tract Society, || which has risen rapidly in favor with the com-

* Table .\.iii. p 13.. t Table vi. pp. 8-10. J Tables xxv. and xxvi. p. 17. 5 Table xxvii. p. 18.

11 Table x. p. 12.


munity, the Society having been enabled to expend nearly $450,000 upon it
during the ten years past. It is a curious fact, that the average rec^ipts of
foreign and houie missions, for each period of the sixteen past years is the
same within $3,000.* This fact is accounted for by foreign missions having
gained considerably on home missions in the second period. I-, may be in-
teresting to add, that the whole amount of contributions for foreisj^ii missions,
in sixteen years, was $5 868,000, and for home missions it was 8-^,e?82,000.

G. We see in these Tables how unsatisfactory are the usual comparisons
made between the receipts of Foreign and Home Missionary Societies.
They are compared as if the receipts of each represented the whole action
in tlie case. But foreign missionary societies do not receive all that is con-
tributed by the Christian community for foreign missions ; nor do home mis-
sionary societies receive all that is contributed for home missions. Both are
directly aided through Bible and Tract Societies ; and vvhile all the funds of
home missionary societies go for the support of preachers, it inevitably hap-
pens, for want of more division and subdivision in the work of foreign mis-
sions, that about one-third of the funds of foreign missionary societies are
required for schools, the education of native preachers, and the printing of
works not embraced in the objects of Bible and Tract Societies. In foreign
missions, moreover, what is contributed by native churches toward the
support of missionaries, is usually included in the published accounts of the
foreign missionary societies, and goes to make up their amount. The course
pursued by home missionary societies is deemed a proper one, and is neces-
sarily different. Those generally furnish but a part of the support received
by home missionary pastors, (whose relations correspond to those of ' native
pastors' in foreign missions,) ami what is paid towards their support by the
churches to which they minister, is not reckoned among the receipts of home
missionary societies, and has no place in our Tables. Besides all this, not
only is the work of supplying Bibles and religious books and tracts detached
from home missions, (in their restricted, technical sense,) but also colportage,
Sabbat'i schools, theological schools, and indeed every department of educa-
tion ; not to speak of missions in cities.

The only satisfactory comparison, therefore, to be made in the case, — the
only one not delusive and injurious to both branches of the great cause, — is
a comprehensive one, resembling the one adopted in the construction of
these Tables. Such a comprehensive view presents the two in their intimate
relations — a vast benevolent association of labors, the glory and blessing of
our age.

7. The printed document before us f contains some curious and valuable
facts derived from a series of printed annual reports of the Brookfield
Auxiliary Foreign Missionary Society in Massachusetts. That Auxiliary
contains sixteen churches, each having their own male and female mission-
ary associations, and publishing in their reports, with few exceptions, every
subscriber's name and the amount of every individual subscription. From
these reports, tables have been made out for two periods of four years each, —
■from 183.8 to 1841, and from 1847 to 1850. The most valuable result

* Table xsvii. p. 18. t Tables, pp. £0 21.


thus obtained is perhaps what may be called the law of increase in the matter
of hentvolent subscriptions. The results in the second period were as
follows :

Number of

Number of

Subscriptions. Sub^criLJers.



rnder 10 cents, .... 335

1 to 2 doUurs,

. 151

lu cents,


2 dollars.

. 484

12J cents,

124 to ■^o cents,

25 cents.


2 to 3 dollars



3 dollars.

. 250

. 2,343

3 to 5 dollars.


25 to 5U cents,


5 dollars,

. 233

50 cents.

. 2,1188

5 to 1 dollars

, . . . . 63

50 to 100 cents,


10 dollars,

. 113

1 doUar,

. 1,624

Over 10 dollai

•s, .... 83

The results in the table for the first period, from J 838 to 1841, prepared
ten years ago, will be found to correspond remarkably with those just stated
as belonging to the second period.

The practical rule to be deduced from this is, that when we exhort the
friends of missions to increase their subscriptions, we need not ask them to
double, nor to add any certain percentage ; but simply to give more than they
have done. If the exhortation succeeds, and they are left to their own
instincts and feelings, they will probably double their subscription, if they
have given but twelve and a half, twenty-five or fifty cents, or one dollar, or
five dollars. If they have subscribed two dollars, they may subscribe three,
or go on to five. If ten, the advance will probably be to fifteen ; if fifteen,
to twenty or twenty-five; thence on to seventy-five or one hundred. Then
the rule goes to two hundred, three hundred, five hundred, a thousand. And
when the heart has become so much enlarged, you may expect the advance
will be to fifteen hundred, two thousand, five thousand. All of which, as we
believe, goes to show, that the great body of contributors do by no means
calculate closely as to what they are able to give. A few do, but not the
great body. It is chiefly a matter of feeling, convenience, habit, custom, —
anything but real ability.

8. The facts embodied in this Statistical History, present to our view the
MiGHTT CAUSE OF THE GOSPEL, advancing slowly it is true, but steadily
and surely, from year to year, as if borne forward by invincible laws. Nor
can we help seeing that the two great branches of the enterprise, besides
being most intimately united, do really stimulate and help each other, and
that if either one be urged forward, the other will soon move onward by its
side. Obviously it is time to give our foreign missions a vigorous setting
forward, since they have now fallen somewhat into the rear. This, with
God's blessing, will be easily effected, if the pastors of churches, taking
courage from the law of ben ev dent donations just stated, shall simply urge
their people, now while foreign missions, relieved from embarrassment, are
movintr steadily upon the track, to add somewhat to the little or much they
gave the past year in aid of this blessed cause of our Lord and Saviour
Jesus Christ.


After the reading of this document, it was referred to Henry White,
Esq., Rev, Joseph Steele, Dr. Linsley, Horace Holden, Esq., Rev


Isaac R. Worcester, Rev. Oman Eastman and Rev. Charles H. Reed.
This Committee subsequently presented the subjoined report, which
was adopted by the Board.

In considering this document your committee have looked at its object,
the means by which it has been attempted to attain this object, and the
results which are spread out before the Board in the report. The object, as
defined in the document, is to ascertain why the receipts of the Board have
increased no faster during the last ten or twelve years, and what is the
prospect in future. This object needs only to be stated to make its impor-
tance and practical bearings felt and acknowledged.

In prosecuting these inquiries, a statistical history of the benevolent con-
tributions of those religious denominations, with which this Board has some
immediate connection, has been prepared. This work your committee
regard as timely and important. The contributions of these benevolent
societies are sufficiently comprehensive, both in extent of territory and of
time, to be made legitimately the basis of the calculations of the science of
statistics, — that wonderful science of these latter days, which, out of facts
the most uncertain and variable, deduces principles and conclusions the most
certain and unchanging. It is important to be in possession of all the light
which such investigations afford ; and the present position of the Board, as
free fiom debt and yet not advancing in its receipts at the rate at which it
once did, renders the investigation timely.

These inquiries, so important and timely, necessarily involve a comparison
of the receipts of different departments of the great missionary work ; and,
indeed, thinking minds will be unavoidably led by such statistics to such
comparisons. The printed document accompanying the report, does not
profess to have attained entire accuracy, but offers itself as containing sug-
gestions of some of the principles which should guide in such comparisons.
Your committee, in the short time alloted to them, are not prepared to say
that improvements may not be made in the arrangement which the printed
document makes of the various societies, under the two great heads of the
foreign missionary work and home missionary work. That for the purposes
of a true comparison, some such comprehensive classification, as is there
attempted, should be made, seems to the committee obvious. Neither are
the committee, on the other hand, prepared to say that the classification
made is not correct. There are some societies, such as the Education Soci-
ety, in regard to the proper position of which, whether as wholly a home
work, or in part a preparation for foreign work, minds may be expected to
differ ; and in regard to which, if a classification of their receipts is at-
tempted, there would be great difficulty in fiading the proper rule for such a
division. If the results of this attempt should make a further prosecution of
these inquiries desirable, the principles which should guide in such a class-
ification could be carefully reviewed, and more fully stated.

Your committee have been greatly interested in the results of these in-
quiries, as drawn out at length in the report referred to them. It is delightful
and encouraging to find, as a sure conclusion, drawn from unquestionable


data, that the mighty cause of the gospel is advancing steadily and snrely.
Your committee are confident that the two great branches of the gospel
work, at home and abroad, are so intimately blended, that the progress of
the one is sure ia the end to secure also that of the other. Fluctuations in
progress have been experienced, and are to be expected ; yet these fluctua-
tions should not discourage us. The statistics presented show that the great
cause is onward. The contributions to the different American societies,
here brought to view, were about $1,.500,000 more during the four years
ending in 1851, than they were during four years ending in 1831). This is an
increase of about sixty-three per cent, upon the receipts of the former period,
or in twelve years. At this rate of increase the contributions of our
churches to benevolent objects will double in less than twenty years. With
reference to the single period of four years in which there was a decline in
the receipts of this Board, the s!atistics make it very obvious, that there was
not a decline on the whole in the benevolent eiforts of the churches. During
that period the receipts of the x\merican Bible Society, of the American
Tract Society, and of the American Home Missionary Society, increased
greatly ; these three societies together having received in that time about
$271,000 more than during the previous four years. Benevolent contribu-
tions, were then increasing; and it is believed that Christians were not
coming to love the cause of foreign missions less, but, for many reasons,
were coming to feel a deeper interest in various efforts for the good of our
own land.

But while God permits us, for the streuLrthening of our faith, to see at
intervals, as it were, that the movement of his chariot wheels is on*arti, yet
your committee would not forget that such cheering views, vouchsafed for
our refreshuient, are nut to be made indisp-nsable to our efforts, or the
measure of them. We have been led, during this meeting of the Board, to
dwell much on the leading rule and motive for our missionary labors We
are to walk in this work by faith, and not by sight. In the language of the
report under consideration, it is the Lord's work, based on a special com-
mand, a special promise, a special providence. We must labor, therefore,
each in his lot, and with the abilities of which he has made us the

And in connection with this thought, your committee would call attention
to the result of Christian experience alluded to in the report, as throwing
lio-ht upon and modifying the results of our theoretical reasoning ; namely,
that there is no real danger of embarrassment resulting from sending forth
well qualified missionaries, who can show reason in their own personal qual-
ities, providential situations, and rf;ligious expi^-icnce, why they ought to go.
It is safe for them to go ; it is safe to send them. Si ill it remain •< true, as
the report suggests, that the number of sucii missionaries cannot be increased
•without a corresponding increase of funds for their support.

The statements of these statistical tables show us that the foreign mission-
ary work is not advancing as rapidly as it should. It is timely then to urge,
as the report does, that we sliould now give to our foreign missions a vigor-
ous setting forward. And while the curious and interesting statistics of the
Brookfield auxiliary, so minutely detailed in the report, give us some light


as to the manner in which the call upon the churches can best be made,
there can be no doubt that it is highly important and necessary, that all the
members of our churches should now be urged to add to that which they
have heretofore been accustomed to give, that this department of the Lord's
work may not suffer.




AUGUST 5, 1856.




Entered according to Act of Congress, in the year 1856, by

T. R. Marvin,

In the Clerk's Oifice of the District Court of the District of Massachusetts.

Williams College, 1856.

At a meeting of the Alumni, held Wednesday, August 6, the
following Kesolution was passed :

Resolved, That the thanks of the Alumni be given to Prof.
Hopkins, for his Address, and that it, with the Speeches and Pro-
ceedings of the Jubilee Celebration, be published in pamphlet form,
and that a committee of three be appointed to superintend their

Whereupon the following gentlemen were appointed a Committee
for that purpose, viz. :

Chables Demond, Esq. , Boston ;

Hon. Emory Washburn, Cambridge, and

Mr. William T. R. Marvin, Boston.

The above is a true copy of the record.

N. H. GrRirFiN, Secretary.

The Committee are happy to be able to present this
pamphlet at so early a day, for which they are much indebted
to the various speakers, for the promptitude with which
they furnished their addresses, and also to the Rev. Calvin
DuRFEE, for his valuable suggestions and efficient aid.

In editing this memorial, they have taken the liberty of
inserting such introductory and explanatory matter and notes,
as seemed to them necessary to make the whole more intelli-
gible, valuable and complete, as a permanent record of the
proceedings of this most interesting day.

They trust their labors will receive the indulgence and
favorable consideration of their brethren of the Alumni.

Boston, Sept. 10, 1856.


The fact that a prayer meeting was held in 1806,

by Mills, Richards, and a few bthers, under a
haystack m the fields near Williams College, in
which the proposition was made to send the gospel to
the heathen, which resulted in time in the formation
of the American Board of Commissioners for For-
eign Missions, and the general awaking of Amer-
ican Christians to their duty to obey the Saviour's
last command, has long been known and dwelt
upon with interest by the friends of missions, and
with pride by the Alumni of this College.

The precise spot has not, till recently, been
identified, though tradition had fixed it m a grove
which formerly stood at the junction of the Hoo-
sick and Green rivers ; and the writer well remem-
bers the deep interest with which he often visited
that spot, and thought upon the great results which,
in the providence of God, had followed the faith
and self-consecration of those humble young men.
In 1854, Hon. Byram Green, one of " the men
of the haystack," and the only one surviving, was
in Williamstown, and identified the spot. At the
ensuing Commencement in August, 1854, the


Alumni voted to purchase the grounds, and in
pursuance thereof the following Circular, prepared
by President Hopkins, was sent out. We insert
it entire, as it states very clearly and forcibly the
reasons for purchasijig and adorning the grounds.

Dear Sir :

At a meeting of the Society of the Alumni of .this College in
August last, the following Resolution, moved by Hon. D. D. Field,
of New York, was passed :

Resolved, That the grounds north of the West College, where
Mills and his associates used to meet for prayer, and where the first
American Missions w'ere projected, he purchased by the Alumni of
the College, and be called the Mission Park and Grounds.

The above Resolution was introduced in consequence of a state-
ment made by Prof. Hopkins, that the precise spot had been ascer-
tained where the haystack stood, under which the first proposal to
send out Foreign Missionaries from this country was made, and the
first prayer meeting in behalf of such an object was held.

For thirty years, or more, no one on this ground had known the
spot. Inquiry was often made by strangers, and a desire expressed
that it might be designated in some appropriate way ; but the hope
of being able to do this had been nearly abandoned. As illustra-
tino' the state of feeling both among strangers and here, while tradi-
tion was busy, and some supposed the spot known, the following
letter, by an entire stranger, then and afterwards, to all connected
with the College, may be given.

South TVilliamstotvn, April 26, 1852.
Miss S.J. W.,

In making inquiries this afternoon, on my first visit to Wil-
liamstown, in relation to the spot where the haystack stood, so famous
in the history of Missions as the one behind whicli Mills and his asso-
ciates prayed for the divine guidance and blessing while maturing
their plans for preaching the gospel of the kingdom to the heathen
•world — plans which were carried out so successfully — I regretted to
learn that the place was unmarked by tree, shrub, stone, or monument
of any kind.

Having learned Uiat the venj spot was yet known, and that there
had been" among some Ladies— who are, the world over, always ready
to every good worli — some desire manifested to mark the sacred place
before it was entirely forgotten, with some memorial, will you please
take charge of the enclosed dollar, [a gold one,] and apply it in any

way you may deem best suited to effect the object. It is little, but
rain-drops make the shower. If it does no more than purchase a
cedar stake to mark the spot, it will not be in vain ; for long ere that
Avill have time to moulder, wealthy ones will have marked with marble
the place where American Missions had their birth, and from whence
went forth those who were chosen of God to commence the work of
making every heathen heart bow at the blessed name of Jesus.

You will pardon the liberty a stranger takes in addressing you, and
kindly excuse the trouble he gives, and believe me.

Respectfully and truly yours,

W. R. D.

This dollar is now in the hands of the Committee for the purchase
of the grounds. It remained as buried seed, and might have con-
tinued to do so ; but last summer the Hon. Byram Green, of Sodus,
N. Y. , in passing through this place spent a night with his friends,
and it was ascertained that he was present at that first prayer meet-
ing, and could point out the spot. This he did, sticking a stake
with his own hand. He then gave a full account of the circum-
stances attending the meeting, and has since stated them in the
following letter :

Sodiis, August 22, 1854.
Prof. Albert Hopkins,

Dear Sir, — Your letter of the 11th of July has been received.
You request a statement of the facts in relation to a prayer meeting,
which was held under a haystack, by some of the students of Williams
College, in July or August, 1806. That prayer meeting becomes inter-
esting to the Christian community, because it was then and there first
proposed to send the gospel to the Pagans of Asia, and to the disciples
of Mohammed. The stack of hay stood northerly from the West
College, near a maple grove, in a field that was then called Sloan's
meadow. 1

Samuel J. Mills, James Richards, Francis L. Robbins,* Harvey
Loomis and Byram Green were present. The afternoon was oppress-
ively warm, which probably detained all those from the East College ;
that usually attended, and some from the West. We first went to the '
grove, expecting to hold our prayer meeting there, but a dark cloud

* There was anotlier Robbins, at that time in College, Robert Chauncey
Robbins, a classmate of Mills and Richards, of whom Rev. Justin Edwards,
D. D., of the Class of 1810, spake, in an Address delivered in New York,
February 11, 1835, as follows : "Robbins is a name not often mentioned
among missionaries ; but in heart and soul, he was a great missionary, by
whose mighty instrumentality, and that of others, was prayed into existence
the whole system of American Missions. His bones slumber in a southern
clime, and his spirit, we trust, mingles sweetly with that rapidly increasing
band of perfect missionaries, before the throne of God." Rev. Robert
Chauncey Robbins, died in 1825, aged 35.

was rising in the west, and it soon began to thunder and lighten, and
we left the grove and went under the haystack to protect us from the
approaching storm, which was soon realized.

The subject of conversation under the stack, before and during
the shower, was the moral darkness of Asia. Mills proposed to send
the gospel to that dark and heathen land ; and said that we could
do it if we would. We were all agreed and delighted Vith the idea
except Loomis,* who contended that it was premature ; that if mis-
sionaries should be sent to Asia they would be murdered ; that Chris-
tian armies must subdue the country before the gospel could be sent
to the Turks and Arabs. In reply to Loomis it was said, that God
was always willing to have his gospel spread throughout the world ;
that if the Christian public was willing and active, the work would be

Online LibraryJohn S. C. (John Stevens Cabot) AbbottAn address to the Christian public, especially to the ministers and members of the Presbyterian, Reformed Dutch, and Congregational churches, throughout the United States : on the subject of the proposed union between the American Board of Commissioners for Foreign Missions and the United Foreign Mi → online text (page 8 of 31)