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The Presbyterian of the South : [combining the] Southwestern Presbyterian, Central Presbyterian, Southern Presbyterian. [volume] (Atlanta, Ga.) 1909-1931, April 17, 1918, Image 2

Image and text provided by Library of Virginia; Richmond, VA

Persistent link: https://chroniclingamerica.loc.gov/lccn/10021978/1918-04-17/ed-1/seq-2/

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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
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
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
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
It is better to deal with such cases in love
than through the enforcement of law.
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
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
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
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
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.
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

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