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argument, addressed to the piety They often met together to en. of Christ's ministers, calls for joy free conversation, to seek a attentive and prayerful conside- more perfect acquaintance with ration. All those Scriptures, each other, to mingle their joys which require ministers to love and their sorrows, and to proone another, to live in peace and mote, as far as possible, each unity, and to seek each other's other's usefulness and comfort. edification and the general inter. If we are governed by the Chris: est of the church, implicitly re- tian spirit, we shall studiously quire attention to all the means, imitate the conduct of the primi, by which their love, edification, tive saints. and unity, as ministers, and the Christianity is the religion of general interest of the church candour and forbearance, Under may be advanced. And if it ap- its benignant influence, gospel
pear, that a general association ministers will compassionate of ministers in this State is one each other's weaknesses; and of those means; who can hesi. will endeavour to correct each tate with respect to duty ? other's errors, to improve each
But this argument may be other's knowledge and grace, considered in a different view. and to walk together as far as they Christianity is the religion of are agreed. love. Love to God, which is the Christianity is the religion of sum of Christian goodness, nat peace. Though it is made the urally excites in his people, es occasion of kindling a fire on the pecially in his ministers, a pious earth ; it must surely be ex. solicitude for his glory and cause. pected to promote peace among Governed by that affection, they its friends. If gospel ministers will frequently and earnestly in- do not perfectly agree in sentiquire, how Christ's church pros, ment; let them lay aside their pers in different parts, what are envyings and jealousies, and the measures and instruments af come together with conciliating his enemies, and in what way hearts, consulting how to manhis friends can best subserve his age their differences so as not to glory and the welfare of his king- injure the Christian cause, nor dom. Such was the practice of discredit the great truths, which the apostles. Their care and la- they all profess to own. It is bour were not confined to one not to be expected, that Chris. place. The general interest of tian ministers will give up their the church constantly occupied opinions any farther than an en: their thoughts. Wherever they lightened understanding and were, they never lost sight of conscience direct. But it is to this object. They sent to the be expected that those who love churches to know their fairh. the peace of Jerusalem, will
They travelled to distant parts, meekly and kindly explain their that they might learn what was sentiments to each other, and the state of the saints, and might endeavour to discover in what, join with them in consultation and how far they can harmonize. and prayer for the success of Although they are in earnest to their common cause. Primitive defend their own peculiar sentiChristians loved one another. ments by fair reasoning ; they
must prefer the whole of Chris- that very consideration may be tianity before a part, and be care urged to show, that their brethful not to hinder the common ren need them. Let them, there canse. Peacemakers reject and fore, come forward, and furnish abhor that conceit of unquiet their supply of gifts for the good spirits, that the interest of relig- of the whole. ion depends wholly on those Before closing this paper, jus: opinions, which distinguish them tice seems to require, that the from others. They weep over principal objections against a the wounds of the church, and GENERAL ASSOCIATION in this long for its healing ; and will, state should be briefly noticed. therefore, most cordially encour- 1. It is asked, What valuable age every pacific measure. The purpose can it answer ? What oba real mother is not willing that ject can be attained sufficiently im. her child should be divided. The portant to justify such a meas. real Christian pastor ardently de, ure? sires the common peace and pros. In reply, I would ask, what perity of the church, and would more valuable purposes can be not have the whole building en mentioned, than those, which dangered rather than that one nail general association is calculated or pin should be driven otherwise to accomplish? What more im. than he chooses.*
portant objects can be sought, Christianity is the religion of than the union, the improvement, humility. They, who possess its and the usefulness of gospel min. spirit, will not entertain undue isters, and the prosperity of the confidence in their own opinions churches ? Who can charge with or goodness. They prefer oth- excess the most vigorous efforts ers before themselves. In diffi- to obtain these objects? In such cult cases, they wish for the ad. a cause, what expense of time vice and assistance of their breth- and labour, what fervency of ren, The servants of Christ prayer can be thought extrava: feel their need of one another. gant ? Young ministers might derive 2. It is said, that the discordspecial advantage from an associ- ant opinions, which prevail among ation with those, who are more the clergy of Massachusetts, pre experienced And few minis clude the possibility of happy un. ters have such inconsiderable tal- ion and useful cooperation ; and, ents, that they may not some, therefore, that it is best they times improve the wisest. They should continue as they are, and who are endued with the most be content to do what good they shining parts, if they are humble, can in their own circles. will not think themselves above Reply. It is by no means exthe need of assistance, but will pected, that the GENERAL ASSOcarnestly desire the counsel and CIATION will embrace the whole friendship of others. If any Congregational clergy in Massaconsider their knowledge and vir- chusetts. It is not to be disguistue so eminent, as to raise them ed that those, who have laid the above the need of their brethren, foundation of the proposed unally expressed in the Assembly's them unite in fervent prayer to Shorter Catechism, be admitted as the Author of light and love articles of faith, and as the basis Such means, perseveringly used, of union. The door is open for have never been in vain. The the admissic: of those minis- truth is not covered with a veil ters, who, with all their minor which cannot be taken away ; differences, receive what are call. nor are the hearts of gospel mined THE DOCTRINES OF Grace. isters incapable of being melioNow with respect to such minis rated by light, and warmed with ters, the objection, above stated, brotherly affection. may be satisfactorily answered in 3. It is said, that such assem. two ways. First. There is no blies of clergymen naturally go difference of opinion among into notions of ecclesiastical power, them, which need to prevent and aspire after an unchristian brotherly love, or interrupt min- domination. isterial fellowship. As this is, Reply. It is acknowledged, in one way or another, granted that this has been the case in by all, no pains will be taken former times. But how much to prove it. Secondly. A gener soever the influence of ministeal association is of all methods rial associations or asseinblies the most likely to lessen the dif- has been abused ; this is no ar. ference of opinion among the gument against employing them orthodox clergy, and to termi- for wise and benevolent purponate forever that spirit of jeal- ses. Suppose a particular cler, ousy and variance, which has so gyman has taken advantage of long disturbed them. A little his superior influence to trample knowledge of mankind is suffi- on his brethren, and to infringe cient to convince us, that the the privileges of the churches. present state of separation, dis- Does this prove that ministerial tance, and reserve, tends to in- influence is in itself an evil, or crease, rather than to remove that it may not be made subsertheir discord in matters of faith. vient to the best purposes? How If their discord is an evil; if often has civil authority been an increasing harmony among abused? Yet who will prelend them is a blessing worthy to be that this is a reason why it sought ; let them come togeth- should not be supported ? This er, and see each other's face. well illustrates the subject before With respect to every point in us, if we carefully remember, debate, let them fully explain that ministerial or Christian in. their different terms and appre. Auence is, properly, the influence hensions, and engage in the of truth, of wisdom, and of prayer. most open and friendly discus- In this sense, the influence of sion. Let them strive to com- ministers is as necessary to the municate and to receive light, to welfare of the church, as civil disclose lurking errors, and to authority is to the interests of confirm the common faith. Let civil society. With what prothein jointly defend that scheme priety can evangelical ministers of truth, and jointly promote be suspected of aspiring after ecthat experimental religion, which clesiastical dominion, because is precious to them all; and let they endeavour, by union and
ion, have voted, that the doctrines • Reformed Pastor.
of Christianity, 48 they are gener
joint consultation, to increase infringe the rights, nor diminish their knowledge, their piety, and the usefulness of that respectable their usefulness, and to advance association. Surely the refusal of the good of Christ's kingdoni ? the Convention to encourage a The ministry in this State, pre- general association was not meant cluded from wealth and power, to lay any prohibition upon indihave no opportunity, and it is be- viduals. Particular ministers or lieved, no inclination to obtain associations have liberty to form any influence, but that of truth any ministerial connexion they and goodness. Animated by the choose, provided it be not inconspirit of Christianity, and taught sistent with the charitable object by the experience of past ages, of the Convention. If any should they will, we doubt notg seasona- attempt to deprive them of this bly and watchfully guard the liberty, they would show that proposed general union against spirit of domination, a tendency every pernicious tendency. to which they so hastily suspect,
4. It is further urged by way and so resolutely condemn in of objection, that a general as80ě others. ciation in distinction from the gen- 5. Only one more objection cral Convention is needless, and, will be noted. It has been said, without the approbation of that that we ought to know beforehand body, would be dangerous. Jeal- not only th: outlines of the propiosousies, animosities, and obloquies ed plan, but its particular ends, are apprehended, as the natural rules, &c. in order that we may consequences.
judge whether it is expedient to Reply. No objection of this
encourage it. kind can be reasonably urged, I observe, in reply, that it does unless the general association in- not belong to an individual, who terfere with the business of the advocates the general object, to Convention. But the slightest enter into all these particulars. examination will show, that there And if those, who have already is no interference. The busi- met with a view to a general asness of Convention is highly im- sociation, should proceed at once portant; but it must be very re- to agree upon an ecclesiastical Stricted. So various are the obe constitution; it might be thought jects of attention on that public unseasonable and injudicious, and occasion, and so small is the prevent, instead of facilitating number of ministers commonly the addition of other associations. present, that little information As it is designed, that the gencan be obtained respecting the eral association shall embrace state of the churches, and little the great body of orthodox mincan be done for the general in- isters in Massachusetts ; it is best terests of religion. How can
that they should come together the most ardent friend of Con- for deliberation, and that the vention be dissatisfied, if minis- particular rules adopted, the ters, still maintaining their con- measures to be pursued, and the nexion with that body, think it direction given to the whole buproper to meet at a different siness should be the result of time, and for different purposes ; their united wisdom. The greatpurposes, however, which do not er the number of discerning, pious characters collected, the sus Christ be with the ministers more likely will they be to de- and churches of Massachusetts ! vise a plan, which will pro
Pastoa. mote the interests of Christianity.
PIETY OF PRIMITIVE NEW EXGThis, then, is the drift and
LAND RULERS. conclusion of the whole. The common practice of men, espe
The piety of the primitive cially Christians, the present rulers of New England is as state of the ministry and of the worthy of notice, as the piety of churches, and the genuine spirit the primitive ministers. The of Christianity are considera following directions, extracted tions, which strongly urge to a
from “ Instructions for Maj. general association in this com- Benjamin Church, commander monwealth. The objections
in chief of the Plymouth forces, raised against it will not, we con- &c. does honour to the religious ceive, on candid examination, ap
characters of the commissioners pear of sufficient force to invali- whose names are undersigned. date the arguments in its favour.
“ You are lo take effectual care The foundation is already laid by that the worship of God be kept a respectable number of associa- up in the army, morning and tions in the western counties, evening prayer attended as far who have met several times with as may be, and as the emergenthe general union in view, and cies of your affairs will permit, to are taking prudent measures to see that the holy Sabbath be duly facilitate the admission of other sanctified. You are to take care associations. The proposition as much as may be, to prevent has been respectfully laid before or punish drunkenness, swearthe Convention of Congregation- ing, cursing, or such other sins, al ministers, who, as a Conven- as do provoke the anger of God. tion, thought it not best to adopt You are from time to time to any measures in its favour, though give intelligence to the Governor a large part, then present, were and Council of Massachusetts or friendly to the object. The way Commissioners of the Colonies is now prepared for the admis- of your proceedings, and the oca sion of particular associations. currences which may happen, There is nothing to debar any, and how it shall please the Lord who receive the great doctrines to deal with you in this present of the reformation. The union expedition," &c. will take place on a basis, which
Thomas DANFORTH, Pres.' includes all the essential articles
Elisha Cooke, of the orthodox faith. The next
Samuel Mason, annual meeting will be at Wind
WILLIAN PITKIN, sor, on the last Wednesday of
Thomas HINKLEY, June, 1807.
John WALLET. Grace, mercy, and peace from
Similar directions were given God the Father, and the Lord Je by Governors Phipps, Stough.
lon, and Dudley.