Congregationalism In Relation To Schools And Benevolent Societies -- By: Charles B. Rice
BSac 50:199 (July 1893) p. 429
Congregationalism In Relation To Schools And Benevolent Societies
Every Christian person has some thought of doing good to his fellow-men, and of helping to set up the kingdom of God in the world. He begins naturally with those nearest to him, in his own home and neighborhood, and does for them what he can. It is an individual work, largely; yet it is not carried on in separation from all social agencies and organizations. He is in a household from the first, and in the midst of the established relations of neighborly life. His Christian feelings and activities run in these channels. He is a Christian child, brother, or father, and a good Christian neighbor. And if he finds any one else with a like purpose trying to do some good, he falls in with him and they work together. These are the first natural and Christian associations of life. Through this sympathetic purpose Christian neighbors join together to make an engagement of fellowship in the public worship of God, and in such matters of helpfulness toward each other and of good-will to other men as may be managed most effectively through an association that is regularly ordered and permanent. This is a church, —a group of neighborly men steadily helping each other and helping other men in the things of the kingdom of God.
No one can draw lines marking off with perfect precision these several departments of individual, household, neighborly, and church activity. Some general divisions can be traced, and beyond that it is not necessary to know where
BSac 50:199 (July 1893) p. 430
all these bounds should be drawn. They often overlap each other, and are blended together. To the clearest sight they are not like the lines of a surveyor’s chart, but rather like the colorings and shadings of a natural landscape. All the fundamental associations of life are in their proper nature supple and vital and free, and not hard and mechanical. A Christian man conducts himself in them by good feeling and good sense both together. He forms habits and follows rules to ends of constant effectiveness and ease. He loves God and his fellow-men, and learns to exercise his love in all ready and practical and sensible ways. He buys coats and shoes for his boys, and speaks with the school children in the street, and talks with the young men as to their plans of life. He sings in meeting if he can, and pays his pew rent cheerfully, and helps form an improvement society, and calls at a neighbor’s house where the old family is changing and the evenings are growing lonely. And he sits by his own fireside what he can, and keeps a kindly temper everywhere. And in most cases he does not mind or know whether he does these things as a deacon, or a father, or a friend, or a common man. He takes his p...
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