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Agent without being constantly, sometimes embarrassingly, impressed with the fruitfulness of modern authorship. From a dozen to twenty book manuscripts are now offered and declined for every one that a publisher, acting with good judgment, can afford to accept. This fruitfulness of authorship must, we think, be hailed as an auspicious sign of the times, and yet it means an overstocked market; it means that many intrinsically good manuscripts will never reach the form of the printed book, and that many others which arrive at this estate will be doomed to only a limited sale in a competitive and struggling market.

APPLICATIONS FOR PLACE.—One of the most constant and trying experiences of a Publishing Agent arises from the necessity of dealing with applicants for position. The impression seems to be widespread that almost any deserving Methodist, young or old, out of work, ought, especially with the aid of pastoral inflnence, to be able to secure employment in the Book Concern. It invariably happens that nine out of ten of these applicants have no training which fits them for any work which the Concern needs; but appeals sometimes most pathetic, and in great numbers, for place come from all sources. To a man of ordinary sensitiveness the necessity of denying, even in the most kindly and sympathetic manner, this constant line of applicants is anything but an exhilarating duty.

AGENCIES.—Since the beginning the traveling preachers have been the recognized agents for getting the publications of the Book Concern to the people. In many ways this has been, and still is, a very efficient system. With the growth of the Church, however, there can be no doubt that the efficiency of this system is relatively declining. Our pastors, especially in the populous centers, are preoccupied men, and it easily comes to pass with many of them that they either almost entirely neglect, or give but indifferent personal attention to, the important matter of introducing the periodicals and publications of the Book Concern into the homes of their people. That this neglect, however caused, is a prime mistake in policy for any Methodist pastor we can have no doubt. It must also be said that a goodly number of the most hard worked of our pastors are too sagacious to make this mistake. We believe that no busy pastor can secure reinforcement for his own work more helpful than will be sure to come from his observance of Wesley's injunction, “To take care that every society” which he serves “be supplied with our Church literature.” The people who read our weekly Church papers, and whose library shelves are stored with the best Methodist books, unquestionably prove the most intelligent, loyal, and valuable church workers. It is the business of a Methodist pastor to be the builder of Methodism in his parish, and he can succeed in a large healthy way in this work only as lie secures the most intelligent cooperation of his people. There are few more vital needs to our denomination as a whole to-day than that its wide lay ranks shall become thoronghly and distinctly intelligent concerning the genius, the work, and the life of Methodism itself. Any pastor, however large he may be in himself, or however busy, who neglects the appointed agencies for this kind of intelligence, whatever else he may do, is neither doing the best service for himself, for his individual parish, nor for his denomination.

But we are forced to acknowledge the widest practical difference between pastors in this vital service for their people. The books of the Concern show that the presence of some preachers in a community is a guarantee that this coinmunity will be well supplied with Methodist literature, while other men, in this respect, leave a tract of barrenness all along the line of their pastoral charges.

The whole question of intermediary agencies through which the literature of our great publishing houses shall most efficiently be carried to the homes of the people is not only exceedingly important, but very sensitive. It is the opinion of most careful observers that the present system needs decided revision. It is a large question, and one which should undoubtedly command most careful consideration from the Committee on the Book Concern at the next General Conference.

REAL PURPOSE OF THE BOOK CONCERN.—The undoubted fundamental purpose of our fathers in founding the Book Concern was to create an agency through which could be provided a literature suitable in quality and price to the needs of the Methodist people. We are among those who believe that this purpose should never be diverted and never lost sight of. We are by no means unaware of the large incidental demands that have been made, both in real usage and in platform appeals, upon the Book Concern. For a long period the salaries of the Bishops were paid from its treasury. It seems a fixed usage that the expenses of commissions authorized by the General Conference shall also be paid from the same source. There have been times when the Church has not raised a sufficient sum to pay the expenses of a General Conference. The deficit has been borrowed from the Book Concern, and it is not in our present knowledge that these sums thus borrowed have always been returned.

Latterly, especially, there has been from some sources an immense demand for the payment of large dividends to the Annual Conferences. This demand has been so pushed as to make it appear that in the minds of some, at least, the very chief function for which the Book Concern exists is to pay these dividends.

Our position here must not for one moment be misunderstood. We give place to none in the esteem, veneration, and affection in which we hold the superannuated preachers of Methodism. Many of these men have records which enroll them among God's elect heroes; nearly all of them are noble and deserving. To leave the temporal needs of these men, in the period of their age and feebleness, unsupplied would be worthy of a deep and dark reproach against the Church which they have so faithfully served. The Church can show loyalty to its divine Master no more impressively than by taking royal care of these heroes of service.

But, with all this, we cannot escape the conviction that it is most unideal that the Church, in order to aid itself in the discharge of this great duty, should resort to the expedient of laying its literature under tribute. In our thought the function of a Church literature is essentially holy, and it should be permitted to go forth upon its sacred mission weighted with no embargoes. Sacred as is the cause of caring for the superannuated preachers, the literature of the Church ought not to be taxed even for this purpose. The Church, through other channels, and by generous devisings, ought to take care of these

men. In the meantime she ought to be most alertly and inspirationally alive to her obligations for the religious literary training of the millions already within the fold, and of the millions more who, in the near decades, ought to be directed by her life.

We may not forget that this Church is about to step over the exalted threshold of the twentieth century. This century will be ablaze with the brightest lights of thought, of invention, of material progress. It will be a century in which no Church, whatever its past record, can hope to hold a commanding and progressive place save as, among other achievements, it is itself the creator of a great and educative Christian literature for its own people. A Church that would be indifferent to this mission is a Church that the twentieth century will snuff out of life.

Moreover, this is to be a century of stupendous competitions, a century in which Christian literature ought to be left free to carry its very best messages along lines of least resistance—this includes lowest possible cost-straight to the homes and hearts of the people. In this century the publishing honses of Methodism ought to be a mightier factor in our denominational life than ever before. There will be demanded of these houses a better product than any hitherto produced. We must produce a literature which shall be fully the equal of the best that may come from the purest heart and the clearest brain of the world.

In our twentieth century Church the Book Concern should have a mission little less sacred in our thought than was that of the ark of God in the camp of ancient Israel. We close by expressing the reverent conviction that even a General Conference onght to be most studiously careful as to how it reaches forth its hand to touch this ark.

GeorgePmains

ART. IV.-TAPPING ON THE WHEELS.

The Roman Catholic Church of to-day makes one think of a great train amid the mountains, stopping a while to allow the train men to go around and to tap on the wheels to see that all is well before the perilous descent is made to the plain below. There is a consciousness of danger among the leaders of the Church, and they are acknowledging it with unwonted frankness. Never before did the Roman writers and thinkers speak out as they do to-day. They are beginning to realize that the Church is out of harmony with the age. Something must be done, or their hope of the leadership of Christendom and of final universal dominion must be forever abandoned. The change which they wish must come soon, or the nations yet in Roman vassalage will forswear their allegiance and demand new constitutions which will guarantee to the people religious liberty.

Here is a quotation from the Civita Catolica, the organ of the Jesuits of the city of Rome:

Wealth and power no longer belong to the Catholic nations; they have become the appanage of peoples who have separated from the Roman Church. Spain and Italy, France, and a large part of Austria, if compared with Germany, England, and the United States, are feebler in the military department, more troubled in their politics, more menaced in social affairs, and more embarrassed in finance. The papacy has had nothing to do with the conquest of one half the globe, of Asia and Africa; that has fallen to the arms of the heirs of Plotinus, of Luther, of Henry VIII. All the vast colonial possessions of Spain are passing into the hands of the republic of Washington; France yields the sovereignty of the Nile to Great Britain; Italy, conquered in Abyssinja, maintains with difficulty her maritime influence by following in the wake of England. Here have we, in fact, all the Catholic countries reduced to submit to heretic powers, and to follow in their traces like so many satellites. The latter speak and act, and the former ate silent or murmur impotently. This is how affairs stand at the end of the nineteenth century, and it is impossible to deny the evidence of it. Politically speaking, Catholicism is in decadence.

Plotinus was one of the founders of the Neoplatonic school, and Neoplatonism was an effort of paganism to counteract and prevent the spread of Christianity. Some speak of

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