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The Pamphlet Collection of Sir Robert Stout: Volume 20

[introduction]

Your Committee have endeavoured to prosecute the work entrusted to them as far as possible during the past year. That work embraced special services for the conversion of the young, and their dedication to God, evangelistic services for the revival of vital religion in the congregations of our Church, petitions to the Houses of Legislature with the view of securing the cessation of unnecessary traffic on railways and highways on the Lord's Day.

Your Committee are happy to report that the state of religion generally throughout the bounds of our Synod is improved, and matters are in a more healthy condition than for years past. The means of grace are, on the whole, well attended, while in some places spiritual fruits are being gathered, and our Church is exercising an influence for good throughout the laud. Whilst no decided revival, or marked work of God, has taken place, there appears to be a growing interest in spiritual and divine things in several districts in connection with our Church. The corresponding members of this Committee speak hopefully of the spiritual condition of the congregations within the bounds of their respective Presbyteries. One Minister thus writes:—"I have no hesitation in saying that, whilst there is much indifference to spiritual concerns, and a small residuum of our population that are characterised by open ungodliness and profanity, yet there are a considerable number of people that are known by me to be truly godly, in whose houses the incense of praise regularly arises, and that are to a large extent a leaven for good amongst the population."

Evangelistic services have been held during the past year within the bounds of all the Presbyteries of our Church, though not in all the congregations, and in some places with gratifying results. The experience of all the Ministers in whose parishes these meetings have been held is, that the attendance and interest increase when the meetings are continued for five or six evenings in the same place. Your Committee believe that the sermon on Sabbath observance enjoined by last Synod was generally preached by the Ministers, and the day of prayer appointed for the conversion of the young, was observed by all the congregations of our Church. What fruit these services have produced, the great day alone will reveal; but one thing is certain that in connection with the faithful use of God's own appointed means for bringing the young to the Saviour in the morning of their days, the Divine blessing will be given sooner or later. Your Committee are glad to learn that a union prayer meeting has been established in Dunedin by Ministers of various denominations, and is well attended. The week of prayer appointed by the Evangelical Alliance at the beginning of this year was observed in this city and in several other places throughout the Province. The corresponding member of the Dunedin Presbytery called the attention of your Committee to a matter of very great importance to the cause of vital religion in this city. We give the following extract from his communication, which will explain itself:—"Perhaps it should be stated that what is termed the social evil exists here to a large extent, about fifty women habitually and openly seeking a livelihood by vice, besides others following the same course more secretly. Repressive measures have recently been adopted, and a number of them lodged in jail under sentences of about two months. I am informed that the want of some refuge to which those women might betake themselves who desire to return to the paths of virtue, has been keenly felt, but no steps, so far as is known to my informant, have been taken." Your Committee would cherish the hope that the Christian ladies of Dunedin will take an interest in these poor unfortunate women referred to in the above extract, and that soon there will be a refuge established to which those may flee who wish to recover themselves out of the snare of the devil.