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Southern District of New-York, ss. E IT REMEMBERED, That on the twenty-sixth day of September, in the forty-sixth year of the Independence of the United States of America, John SAY RE, of the said District, hath deposited in this office the title of a book, the right whereof he claims as proprietor, in the words following, to wit:
“A Review of Doct. Emmons's Theory of God's Agency on Mankind; Addressed to the Congregational Clergy of New-England. Also, a Refutation of the Views entertained by Advocates of that Theory, respecting the Necessity of the Moral Evil existing in the Universe to a display of the Divine Glory.”
• In conformity to the Act of the Congress of the United States, entitled “ An Act for the encouragement of Learning, by securing the Copies of Maps, Charts, and Books, to the authors and proprietors of such copies, during the time therein mentioned " And also to an Act, entitled “an Act, supplementary to an Act, entitled an Act for the encouragement of Learning, by securing the copies of Maps, Charts, and Books, to the authors and proprietors of such copies, during the times therein mentioned, and extending the benefits thereof to the arts of designing, engraving, and etching historical and other prints.” JAMES DILL, Clerk of the Southern Distric, of Nen-York.
The work of the Ministers of the Gospel is not confined to the limits of their parishes: they are appointed, not merely to preach Christ to the people intrusted to their care, but are also “set for the general defence of the Gospel.” They, as individuals, are constituted guardians of the public faith, as well as Pastors of the particular churches and congregations over which they are placed. It devolves on them to “walk about Zion, to tell the towers thereof, mark well her bulwarks, and consider her palaces ;” to extend a watchful eye over her general interests, to detect and arrest the intrusions of error, guard her purity, and defend her liberties. This duty is imposed especially on the Congregational Clergy in their individual capacity. Their churches have not, like the Presbyterian and Episcopal, adopted a common Confession of Faith, as a standard of orthodoxy; nor established a common Judicatory, to which those who depart from the faith once delivered to the saints, are amenable. A large proportion of their churches are entirely independent of the others, and at liberty to embrace any system whatever of doctrine, and adopt any peculiarity of rites, without subjecting them . selves to the interference of any judicatory, or the sacrifice of any immunity. Their representative assemblies have no power to enact authoritative laws respecting the faith, rites, and government of their churches; nor to pronounce authoritative decrees of excommunication, or disfranchisement. They are not invested with executive power. Their voice is only advisory and monitory; and their decisions must be ratified by individual churches, in order to become law.
Thence, the task of correcting abuses and repressing error devolves on the clergy individually, in their private capacity; and the press is the chief medium of accomplishing it. Nor is this the least important duty which their office assigns them. The dignity and influence of religion depend on her purity. Error in doctrine is the worst species of irreligion ; for it attacks religion herself, and endeavours to conquer her dominions by annihilating her truth. The multitude embrace the views of Christianity which are inculcated by their teachers ; and if those views are fraught with error, it soon develops itself in practice. The consciences of men are not often more, they are ordinarily less, rigorous than their creeds.
Erroneous exhibitions of Christianity do more than any thing else to create and strengthen her enemies. Explore the origin of the rancour with which her modern opposers have persecuted her; you will perceive it was excited, in no small degree, by the ridiculous rites, the absurd doctrines, and the intolerance and tyranny with which the folly and impiety of men had disfigured her. Search for the cause of the disrespect and prejudice with which she is viewed by many of the intelligent and influential in our country; you will discover that they have been awakened extensively by the distorted views of her which those individuals have been called to contemplate. Robbed of her dignity and consistency by the admixture of what is contradictory, ridiculous, intolerant, and weak, they have not been inspired with that reverence toward her, her native majesty is adapted to awaken ; nor yielded her the confidence her unsullied truth is fitted to command.
Erroneous exhibitions of the Gospel encourage its enemies in their opposition. Its enemies identify the true Gospel with those pretended exhibitions of it. They regard their whole aversion to it as just, because they are justified in rejecting the errors appended to it; and when they triumph over those errors, flatter themselves that they have gained a victory over the Gospel itself. Had the Gospel never been taught but in its purity, we persuade ourselves, that Christendom had never been the scene of persecution since the primitive ages of the church; the world had never witnessed the war of modern infidelity; nor our country exhibited the deplorable spectacle of so large a portion of those who are first in intelligence, station, and influence, standing in the ranks of the indifferent, the unbelieving, and the contemptuous. The ministers of the cross, therefore, discharge one of their most sacred and momentous duties, when, in the “meekness of wisdom,” they expose and arrest the deviations from truth, to which every age gives birth : and they make their happiest efforts to adorn the walls of Zion with salvation, and her gates with praise, when they labour to bring all into the “unity of the faith, and of the knowledge of the Son of God.”
And the clergy of New-England have not, ordimarily, been negligent to discharge this duty. Her churches have enjoyed a ministry more intelligent, more pious and vigilant, and exerting a more powerful and salutary influence, than those, during the same period, of any other section, not only of our own country, but of the world. Her first ministers possessed more of the apostolic character than modern ages have often seen. The venerable Edwardses, Bellamy, Smalley, Lathrop, the illustrious Dwight, Strong, and several others, would have added strength to any church, and honour to any na