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THE PROPOSED AMENDMENT.
The last General Assembly sent down to the Presbyteries for their consideration an amend ment to Paragraph 235 of the Rook oi Church Order. It will, if adopted, give the Session of a church the right to deal with members who fail to attend public worship in what is ;it least an unusual manner. It will authorize the Session to transfer any member from the communicating to the non-communicating church roll, if he lias absented himself from Attendance upon the public worship of God for a year. This is not to bo done until an earnest effort is made to win him back to his duty. But it may then be taken by the Ses sion without the ordinary process of trial. The first question to be asked in such a case is, what will be gained by such change in the law? In the discussions of the question wc have seen very little said as to what the Church would gain by such a course. The only gain that wc can see to the local church is that the membership as reported to the Presbytery will be smaller and composed more entirely of the more active members of the church. This is somewhat in line with the plan of having a non-resident roll. And the only thing gained in either case is that the roll of the church shall appear as small as possible, in order that assessments and apportionments by Presbytery may be made as small as possible. If there is any other reason given for either of these plans for getting members oil' the roll of the church we have not seen it given. What will the Church gain more than this by such a course? We suppose it might be said that those who do not attend upon the services of God's house are not faithful mem bers of the church, and that unfaithful mem bers are an injury to the church. This is true. Hut is this the only evidence of unfaithfulness on the part of church members that brings injury to the church? Are there not other sins which are more injurious because more flagrant, because more noticeable to the world? The man with a bad temper, with a covetous disposition, or who does not contribute to the support of the church is either positively or negatively an injury to the church. Why should he not be dealt with in a similar man ner? Will it help the individual concerned? lie will of course feel that he has been turned out of the church, lie will in all probability feel that he has been badly treated, especially when he sees the shortcomings of others, who are still in full membership in the church. Every one who has tried to win back to the church one who for any cause has drifted away from membership in the church knows how hard it is to succeed in doing so. The church is the mother of its members, or should be so, in its care of them. The sick ones, those who are spiritually sick, need the mother's care in an especial manner. Instead of doing anything to drive them away, ear nest prayer and faithful effort should be put forth to win them back to their full duties and privileges. The purpose of the church, so far as its members is concerned, is to build them up in their Christian life. Important as the public worship of God is, it is not the only means which the church can use for the spirit ual welfare of its members. Probably if other methods were faithfully used, the negligent member might be won back to church attend ance. Framed as the proposed law is, it would seem to be liable to easy abuse. Nothing is said as to what efforts shall be made to bring the member back to his duty before the Ses sion takes final effort. The only practical way that seems to suggest itself for putting the law into operation when a member is found not to have attended church for a year will be to appoint a committee to see him. Thi9 committee makes its report and the Session lias to act upon that alone. The Session as a whole has had no opportunity of hearing the delinquent. lie is put on trial arid judgment is passed without his being even summoned to answer for himself. We have known members who stayed away from church for reasons that would probably not satisfy a Session, and yet which were en tirely sufficient to themselves. Notwithstand ing their neglect of this duty, as important as it is, they gave other evidences of Christian life. If the pastor and the other members of the Session will deal gently, lovingly and consid erately with such eases, most of them will be won back not only to the duty of attending public worship, but to many other duties. We believe that every member of a church, no matter how negligent of his duties towards it. lias interest in the church at some point. Find what that interest is and cultivate it, ? specially by giving him some work to do con nected with the point that he is interested in. There is no better way to increase and broad en his interest. When interest has been awak ened in one particular, it will not be hard to extend it. The man whose interest has really been awakened in anything connected with the church will not long stay away from its services. It is better to deal with such cases in love than through the enforcement of law. THE NEED OF THE HOUR. There is no disguising the fact that the lib erties of the world are imperilled in a most serious manner. The combination of powers arraigned against the forces of Christian civil ization seems on the verge of conquering. It will not do to comfort ourselves with the re flection that right and righteousness will eventually prevail. They undoubtedly will. But what of today. The long centuries have revealed a constant overriding of the right by the forces of wrong. God will eventually bring order out of chaos, peace out of war, and right eousness out of the sinful lives of men and devils. But what of the present? We are living in it. Our homes and our liberties and all things are in the present. The future does not exist as yet for us. IIow can we preserve the blessings of the day? Blessings that have been bought with the precious blood of Christ, and the patient struggle of the people of God upward to a better life. IIow can we stay the forces that are seriously threatening to plunge the world back into the autocratic ideals of the Middle Ages? Which are literally turning back the fingers of the world's clock of progress and using a demoniac skill in creating engines of hideous destruction and suffering ? which is war ? inhumane enough ? equal in hideousness with the cruelties of the Chinese or American Indians? We contend not against flesh and blood, which is bad enough, but against spiritual and wicked forces in high places ? against an ingenuity that is at once as ingenious as Luci fer and ac cruel as the devils in hell. Against these we are arrayed. What do we need ? These forces are the supermen, because they are animated and directed by the evil one, who has more shrewdness than all the sons of light. The Bible never makes light of Satan. We need to tremble before him. And now that he is manifested in human flesh against the sons of light, wo need to fear him all the more. We need a supreme and celestial power. God alone is able to deliver us. He can confound the schemes of our enemy and His. The prom ise of the Bible is that that power is ours How can we use it? The condition of the use of all power is that we put ourselves in rapport with it. There must be an unimpeded connection with the power in its source. There has always been as much electric foi'ce in the world as now, but until men knew how to make a good con ductor for it, it was useless and had as well not have been. There was as much power in steam when Adam walked in the Garden of Eden as now, but the steam-engine had not been invented, and hence the power was latent and useless. There is power in God. We can have it. How? He does not leave us blind to this dis covery. When we repent of our sins and sin cerely strive to walk in His way and do His will for our salvation, we have the assurance that it will be well with us. When the children of Israel walked after other Gods and went into idolatry and refused to obey God, He let the Philistines or the Midianites have dominion over them. When they turned in penitence to Jehovah, He heard their cry and gave them deliverance through a man raised up of God for this very purpose. God is the same and His conditions of salva tion are the same. What have we done? Is it not clear that we as a nation and the so-called Christian nations of Europe have gone away from God? The Sabbath is no longer a delight. The house of worship is no longer filled. The gospel is no longer a joy. Love of money, a root of all evil, chasing of fun, love of pleasure, not to mention grosser sins, permeate the mass and go unrebuked. If there are many individuals who refrain, they are like the voice of one crying in the wilder ness. Ought not the Church of God to sound her voice at this time in calling the whole nation to its knees and to heartfelt repentance toward God ? There is but one need ? it is the supreme one. Why not recognize it and receive the power from on high? A. A. L. Contributed THE GENERAL ASSEMBLY OP 1918. By Rev. S. H. Chester, D. D I would like to associate myself, not official ly but personally, with those who are express ing the opinion that it would be well to omit the meeting of the General Assembly this year. In his article this week Dr. Wells, the retiring .Moderator, suggests an admirable method by which this may be legally done, which I ear nestly hope will be adopted. So far as the Foreign Missions cause is con cerned, there seems to be nothing in the situa tion that will require other than routine hand ling by the General Assembly. We have had a good year financially, and we have every rea son to anticipate a better one the coming year. Our people seem to be learning in the terrible school of war the great lesson of sacrificial giving, and there has never been a time when our churches and our people of means have been as responsive to t,he missionary appeal as they are now. ? The work on the foreign field is progressing wonderfully, and so far as I know there are no difficult problems of administration coming up for solution. 4