« AnteriorContinuar »
recount the numerous associa: advocating. But I shall place, tions of Christian ministers, them, as arguments on the oth-, which have taken place in differ- er side. The friends of error ent ages, or the multiplied ad- would not have been so fond of vantages which have resulted forming themselves into socie. from them. What efficacious; ties, had they not known the resistance has ever been made peculiar 'advantages of union. against the rising power of In order to execute their plans Christ's enemies, or what great more readily, and to secure those reformation has ever been set advantages, which they have forward and completed, without deemed necessary to their trisuch a measure as we now rec umph, they have joined them. ommend
selves together in an unnatural Notice might here be taken of league. By acting in union, they the general assembly of Presby- have vastly increased their influterian ministers in the United ence. The enemies of Christian. States; of the general associa- ity have for many years seemed tion in Connecticut ; of the gen. peculiarly sensible of the imporeral convention in Vermont ; tance of combination. The unand of other forms of general common boldness which they union among Episcopalians, Bap- display, and the strength and tists, Moravians, Methodists, success, which they have ob&c. who all secure their respec- tained, are in a great measure tability and perpetuate their exconsequences of their union. istence by similar means. On Though they differ in many recareful inquiry it will appear, spects ; yea, though they have that the Congregational ministers no natural bond of amity ; yet in this Commonwealth are in a they are so wise, as to lay aside state of singular disunion. There their differences, and to combine are, indeed, smaller associations, together for the advantage of which are held in esteem in ev- their cause. Nor is there any ery part. But every argument, way, in which we can effectual. which favours these, may be ly oppose their influence, but by urged in support of a general zealous co-operation. Their association. If it be suitable, union calls for union in us. A that a small number of minis- holy confederacy among ministers in the same circle should ters and Christians would soon meet to deliberate on the great weaken their growing power. concerns of religion ;. why is it If the Congregational clergy in not suitable, that a larger num- this state would form themselves ber, belonging to different cir- into a harmonious body, their cles, shouid meet for the same influence would be sensibly felt. purpose ?
Their adversaries dread the Popish councils, assemblies, light, which would shine forth consistories, &c. which have from an assembly of faithful contributed so much to the ministers convened for consultapropagation of error and the in- tion and prayer. The Christian jury of the true church, are cause has a remarkable superiormentioned as objections against ity over the cause of impiety. such associations, as we are now For. whereas there necessarily No. 11. Vol. II.
exist among the wicked radical How much has Zion already disunion and perpetual interfer- suffered for want of agreement ence ; there is among Chris- among her sons ! Let, then, her: tians a real foundation for the watchmen come together, con most cordial and entire harmo sult for her safety and prosperiný. Remove those wrong af-.I ty, and unite in action and fections, which stand in opposi- prayer, or her desolation draw.. tion to their prevailing disposi. eth nigh. tion, and persuade them to feel How do men recognise the and act as Christians, and they advantages of union in all branchwill show that they are one. As es of business. They join tofar as this union exists, and gether to promote their success takes a proper direction, the in their mercantile, mechanical, church becomes an army with and literary pursuits. In all, the banners, which its enemies can benefits of association are incal-* not subdue.
culable. But no where can union The grand principle, on which be of such eminent advantage, niy reasoning rests, that is, the as in religion. Because no where advantage of well regulated else is there a foundation for union, is recognised in the con such perfect agreement in the stitution of all societies. Why great object of pursuit, and in do men unite themselves togeth- the means of obtaining it. er in the social compact, except My second argument in favour for the manifest advantages of a GENERAL ASSOCIATION ariswhich arise from it? The ne es from the circumstances of the cessity of coalescence is espe- . times. The gospel ministry in cially felt in times of danger. 'this commonwealth is unhappily When the alarm of an ap- in a very broken, dismembered proaching enemy is sounded, state. În many instances those men, how divided soever before, Christian teachers, who are unitimmediately form themselves ed in the love of divine truth, into a body, so that their power, and fervently engaged in the which in a disunited state is cause of the Redeemer, are esnothing, may be increased and tranged from each other in affecrendered invincible by union. tion, and filled with mutual preWhat could men do against a judices. Now let each party potent, bloodthirsty foe, should fatter themselves as they please, they continue in a separate, un this must be recorded to the formed state, and each fight at shame of the ministers of Mashis own door, and according to sachusetts, as long as the gospel his own discretion ? Withont a abides in the land. Their disbetter mode of defence than cord is productive of aggravated this, a whole nation must fall evils. It bars them from the before an inconsiderable host. comfort and advantage of mutual But when, or in what circum- intercourse and confidence. It stances is union more needed, weakens their hands, and conthan among ministers and Chris tracts their usefulness. In their tians at the present day? How present state of separation and great the strength, how alarm- estrangement, what power have ing the success of the ungodly! they to prosecute any measure
for the general interest of people ; their office would be Christ's kingdom, or even for respected, their religion honoureach other's edification ? People ed, and their divine Master adortake notice of their variance, and ed. What a blessed contrast to not only deride them, but be the present state of things would come hardened against religion.* be presented, if a general union Their minds are unsettled res should take place among evanpecting Christianity, by the dis- gelical ministers in this comagreement of those, who are ay monwealth. thorized to teach it.
This argument for a general Now how desirable it is, that association will be still further the scattered fragments of the strengthened, when we attend to Congregational ministry in this the number, skill, and activity of state be collected & joined togeth- Zion's enemies. How are they er in the bonds of Christian love? multiplied, who rise up against Who that has the spirit of Christ, the truth? Was there ever a does not devoutly wish it? What time, when the foes of Christ a serious attempt for union ought were more numerous, or when the present state of the ministry 'they showed more resolution and to excite?
boldness, assumed a greater vaThe state of our churches riety of shapes, or were more will add to the strength of the elated with success? With them argument. When the whole it is a day of exploits. They numbers of professors is compar have had famous leaders, and obatively so small, and even among tained signal victories. They them the spirit of piety is sunk seem inspired with unyielding so low ; "what can be more rea courage and perseverance. If sonable, or promise more exten- unsuccessful in one way, they sive good, than for ministers, still repair to another, and are who have the interest of religion never weary of exertion. When at heart, to meet together in the every other method fails, they name of Christ, and deliber- know how to take adyantage of ate on measures for Zion's wel division among the servants of fare? Is it not plainly necessary, Christ. Animated by so much that something be done to ad appearance of this at the present Fance the cause of holiness, and day, as well as by other circumto avert impending judgments ? stances which fire their zeal, And can it be expected, that God they have taken a most daring will save and prosper the church, posture, and appear resolved, by without employing the wisdom open and by secret means, to and diligence of his servants ? If make one great effort for general they were agreed among them and final triumph. Behold the enselves, and would perform as emy thus coming in like a desolamuch as possible of God's work, ţing flood upon us. Let us throw with unanimity; they would away all prejudice and strife, possess far greater ability to do combine our influence and lift good. Their instructions would up the standard of the Lord have a sacred influence with the against them.
I argue, thirdly, from the gen. • See Baxter's Reformed Pastor. uine spirit of Christianity. This
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, jusopinions, 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 un
ion, have voted, that the doctrines • Reformed Pastor.
of Christianity, 48 they are gener