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A RADICAL SUGGESTION.
Few things in this world escape criticism, and the General Assembly of the Presbyterian Church in the United States is no exception. Every meeting of this highest court of the Church is followed by a shower of criticisms, some being made through the Church papers, many more being made privately. Some of these criticisms, many of them meed, are not well founded; but it must be admitted that oftentimes an Assembly does lay itself liable to well founded criticisms. This condition of affairs shows that the As sembly does not command the high esteem of some parts of the Church to which it is cut titled. These criticisms are oftenest made by those who are most familiar with the composi tion and working of the body, having been members of the Assembly themselves at some previous time. The criticisms are usually upon the ground that the Assembly has taken unwise action on some important matter that has been before it. Such actions are not surprising when a few facts arc taken into consideration. Indeed it would be more than human if some mistakes were not made under the circumstances. Here are some of the facts to be considered. Selected as it now is when the Assembly meets it is composed almost entirely of new men, men who have never been to the Assembly or else who have not been for several years. This is especially true of the eldership. Not many ciders are ever members of more than one As sembly. The result is that when they meet, each member feels more or less a stranger to all the others and he is at a decided disadvant age in the consideration of the important mat ters upon which he is called to pass judgment. Many members of the Assembly, and espe cially the elders, have not extensive acquaint ance in the Church at large, and when they go to the Assembly they expect to follow the lead of others to a large extent. It some times oc curs that they are influenced by some aggres sive member, whom they would not follow, if they knew him better. Hut it takes some time to get acquainted. This state of affairs makes it hard for the Assembly to get to work in a really effective way for several days after it meets. It has to get acquainted and get settled down before it :s ready for successfully handling its business. The result is that practieallly the first days are lost. This foices the most important busi ness in many cases to the close of the session, when it often does not get. the consideration that it ought to have, and so some times ill-ad vised actions are taken. Another trouble that grows out of the pres ent plan of electing an entirely new Assembly each year is that when some business is taken up by one Assembly and it is has to be referred to a committee to be reported on at the next meetingg the report has to be made to an entirely new body. Even the members of the committee are not members of the body to which they report. Ordinarily the report of an ad interim committee is sent in in writing and only one member of the committee, if any, is present to advocate the report. The mem bers of the Assembly who discussed the matter the year before are not there to receive the report. The impression made upon them is lost. The Assembly to which the report is made has to take the subject up practically as a new one and has to consider it from the standpoint of the committee, which may not at all reflect the sentiment of the previous As sembly. In this way movements of real value to the Church are lost, because they do not meet with the approval of committees, and the Assembly that has to act on their reports has not had the advantage of the arguments ad vanced by the advocates of the action pro posed. As a result of this condition of affairs it sometimes happens that matters' that have been carefully and fully discussed by one As sembly and then referred to a committee, are passed by with very slight consideration at the next Assembly. There is a general feeling that there ought to be some improvement in these particulars. At the risk of seeming to he somewhat radical, though we do not see that it will affect any principle of our government, we suggest that the Assembly be reorganized so as to make it a continuous body. As it now stands the As sembly is the only court of the Church that goes completely out of existence, when its ses sion closes. There is no provision in our Church law for calling any special meeting of the Assembly. No matter what emergency might arise between the meetings there is no legal way of having a meeting until a full year has passed. This trouble, and largely the others which we have mentioned, can be obviated by so changing our laws as to make the Assembly a continuing body. This can be done by electing its members for three years, one third of the members being elected each year. Some plan can be worked out by which this can easily be done. This will very greatly limit the number of men who will ever be members of the Assem bly. That will be a loss to those who are not fortunate enough to be selected, but it will mean a great strengthening of the body. A Presbytery will not often elect a man for three years, because he has never been to the Assem bly, but will select men who have ability to transact the important business of the Church. As it is now every minister at least feels sure that he will be sent to the Assembly at some time, regardless of what his ability or lack of ability may be. "What the Church needs is that its ablest men shall handle its important business. THE BLESSED ASSURANCES OF AN OLD AGE. Cod has not left us to grope our way through lite in the semi-darkness of this world's twilight. lie has given great, and gra cious promises on which we may rely and by the light of whose grace we may walk safely and happily. The remarkable thing is that these assur ances grow clearer as we get up in years. Such is the recent testimony of one of Cod's faithful ministers, who has passed his three score years and ten. So it is not surprising that Paul should close his Epistle to the Church at Phil ippi with a marvelous recital of them, lie has gotten to the clear sunlit heights of old age with God. He sees with a ken that those of less years and less experience do not have. One of these is the assurance of Jesus' pres ence all the way. "The Lord is at hand," ready to help, ready to cheer. Paid was in strange and unpleasant circumstances; yet ho knew that with him was that, same strange presence that had ever guided His people throughout their wilderness journey. We may all have that experience of the presence of the Lord in our daily life. Then this may mean Paul was looking for the speedy return of that Lord of his life, the pathetic dream that, sustained the early dis < iples, of the coming of our Lord to earth the second time unto salvation. Another gracious assurance is that of an swered prayer. Do not bo worried about the outcome of life. Lot your requests be known to God. lie is the hearer and answerer of His people's prayers. All our wants and weak nesses are to be laid before Ilis gracious sight, with thanksgiving for what lie is doing for us. Do we not need to have that assurance when we think of our seemingly unaswered prayers? Out of this rich experience Paul says, "He does answer our prayers." Again we have a blessed assurance in the fact of God \s guardianship. God's peace, given not as the world gives, but as He only can give, is in our souls. It is the garrison of our life. It is the keep, behind whose barred gates our souls can safely and elamly rest. Our hearts with their subtle affections and loves, their cravings and cryings, our minds, with their dispositions, all arc kept by His power in safety ami peace. This peace comes as the rich gift of God's love to us in Christ Jesus. It is not the result of selfish self contemplation. It is not that deadly calm that comes from the narcotic of so called Christian Science, nor its kinswoman. Spiritualism. It comes to the surrendered soul that finds its peace in God, through the aton ing blood of Jesus Christ. It is not surprising to hear the apostle men tion as one of the gracious assurances of the aged Christian, the constant supply of divine strength. He says in no boastful spirit, "I can do all things through Christ which strength ened me." All that God in His wisdom sees fit to send upon him, or require him to endure. Christian old age is not the hour of weakness. It shines through the weakness of the body. The more the marble wastes, the more the statue grows in the divine likeness and beauty. The power of God is manifested in his weak ness, and that power is all that is needed to do God's will. The sum of it all is in the reference to the supply of material things. "My God is able to supply all your need according to the riches of the glory of His grace." But we may be sure the apostle means far more than the mere ma terial benefits of his life. The deep needs of the soul are sure of a perennial supply from that rich fountain of goodness. The measure is the illimitable goodness of our God, "the riches of the glory of His grace." Tn the bustling activities of even our Chris tian life is it not a good thing to stop and ro*t on these divine assurances and thus really be lii-ve that all things work together for good to those that love God, to the called according io His purpose? Rest in them. A. A. L. Contributed THE GREAT BIG NOW. By Miss Annie E. Wilson. In the small beginnings of what wc call Foreign Missions, which was not so very long ago. it was lorfked upon with dubious eyes. "Couldn't God save the heathen without our help, if He wanted to?" some would say. Or "if it must be done, the preachers to whom no body will listen in this country can be utilized to carry the gospel to them." Such ideas have been completely revolution ized in later days. If there is any one force that is changing the whole face of the earth it is the knowledge of the gospel of the Lord Jesus Christ. Paul is not the only man of whom it has been said, "These that havei turned the world inside down." | Compare the original of our own Saxon race