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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, conmost cordial and entire harmo- sult for her safety and prosperi. ny. Remove those wrong af- 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 incalnot subdue.
culable. But no where can union The grand principle, on which be of such eminent advantage, my 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. In 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 Hatter 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 ? Without 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 ador take 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 au 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 number 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 pever 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 advantage 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 yance the cayse 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 en. selves, 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 oîten 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 Chrisest 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 thc urally excites in his people, es occasion of kindling a fire on the pecially in his ministers, a pious earth; it must surely be exsolicitude 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 of 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 Chrisplace, The general interest of tian ministers will give up their the church constantly occupied opinions any farther than an entheir 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 faith, 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 senti. Christians 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, therecause. 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. l. It is asked, What valuable age every pacific measure. The purpose can it answer? What obo real mother is not willing that ject can be attained sufficiently imher child should be divided. The portant to justify such a measreal 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 a dangered rather than that one nail general association is calculated or pin should be driven otherwise to accomplish? What more imthan 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 minspirit, 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 ado 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 extravafeel 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, preexperienced. And few minis- clude the possibility of happy unters 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 ASSOearnestly 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, as they are gener. ally 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 admission 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 assemblies 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 purpopate forever that spirit of jeal- ses. Suppose a particular clerousy and variance, which bas 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 çient 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 subser. their 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 pretend them is a blessing worthy to be tbat this is a reason why it sought ; let them come togeth- should not be supported ? This cr, 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 intheir different terms and appre. fuence 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 failh. Let civil society. With what prothem 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