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FROM the report of the Committee of Missions to the General Assembly, it appears, that the missionaries have faithfully, and, there is reason to hope, not unsuccessfully, performed the duties of their appointments; and although some of them have met with discouragements, yet, in general, they were received with cordiality, and heard with decent attention. In a variety of instances, impressions have been made, which it may be presumed, will not be easily effaced; the careless and secure have been alarmed, and the children of Zion have been made joyful in their King. The field upon which missionary labour may be advantageously bestowed is rapidly enlarging; but the Committee have to regret that the number of those who offer themselves to the work does not increase in proportion to the demands for their services; however, although they see not at present the instruments with which the work is to be accomplished, He is faithful who has promised, that all flesh shall see the salvation of God," and means will not be wanting when the set time for the fulfilment of the promise shall arrive.
"June 18th, 1805. At South Granville* I attended a very large and respectable meeting of ministers and people (mostly presbyterians and congregationalists) appointed on account of a special attention to religion in that place.
I believe upwards of twenty regular ministers attended: no other took any active part in the public exercises. The people met on two days for social worship: they assembled in a grove, in the day-time: there were no encampments. On the second day the Lord's supper was administered. Thousands collected from the neighbouring towns. It was judged by many that there were 700 or 800 communi
Bents; and some supposed more tween 40 and 50 new communicants, of that congregation, were that day admitted to the Lord's supper; nineteen adults were baptized; and I was informed, that 70 children of those adults were baptized on the next Lord's dav. I never saw, within the walls of a church, more general attention, solemnity, and order, than were observable throughout the whole of the public performances."
"In the west and southerly parts of Vermont, and in some parts of Washington county, state of New-York, there appears an unusual attention to religion."
The Committee of Missions have received information, that the books and small tracts upon religious and moral subjects, sent by them to various parts for gratuitous distribution, have been received with gratitude, and their good effects are already beginning to appear. Upon this subject the Rev John H. Rice (of Charlotte county, Virginia†) reports, that he has distributed the Testaments and Hymn Books, received as a donation, amongst the blacks in Charlotte county, and that he conceives there is good reason to believe that happy effects have already been produced. Shortly after he received those books, he was applied to by a negro lad for a testament and hymn book, which he gave him. Some time in last March a sabbath was fixed upon for the administration of the sacrament of baptism, and on that day this young negro
The Rev JEDIDIAH CHAPMAN reports, that the general state of the country in the northwestern parts of the state of N. York is progressing to religious order; that a number of congregations are rapidly increasing; churches are organized; there are others in embryo; new towns are settling, which need particular attention, and are continually calling for ministerial labour; there is a large field open for the employment of missionaries, and perhaps as great, if not a greater call for missionary services than at any former period.
Mr TIMOTHY WILLIAMS's route lay through the counties of Ontario, Steuben, and Tioga, in the state of New-York, in the vicinity of the Cayuga, Seneca, and Ontario lakes, and in it he met with many serious persons. He preached 79 times, frequently to attentive audiences; visited the sick; attended and spoke at a funeral; visited two schools; and attended a confeFence. In several places, the people are very desirous to have a settled ministry, and the regular administration of gospel ordinances among them; but in others lamentable carelessness in this respect prevails; in general, however, the prospect is encouraging.
Extract from the missionary journal of the Rev. John Close.
• In Washington county, state of NewYork.
Mr. RICE is appointed a missionary, to spend two months of the present year among the blacks in Charlotte county, and its vicinity.
applied for admission into the church according to custom, Mr. Rice conversed with him on his religious exercises, and received a very satisfactory account of them. As a specimen of his acquaintance with the fundamental doctrines of christianity, Mr. Rice sends the following questions, with the negro's answers to them, almost precisely in his own words.
"2. Why do you wish to be baptized? 4. Because it is my desire and my duty to be in the church of Christ, and to have communion and fellowship with the church of Christ.
2. Have you any other reason? A. It is the command of Christ, and I tant duty. wish to obey the commands of Christ.
2. Who is Jesus Christ?
A. The Son of God, and Saviour of sin.
2. Are you a sinner?
A. Yes, master, a great sinner.
And how do you expect to be saved? 4. My hope is in the Lord Jesus Christ. 2. What do you hate most of any thing in the world?
With heartfelt pleasure the Assembly bear testimony to the charitable exertions made by some of their churches, for the relief of the poor, and for the maintenance of the holy ministry. They rejoice to find that the ordinances of the gospel arc, i general, attended with punctuality and earnestness. They regret, however, that in some particulars, they are compelled to use the language of reprehension. It is with pain they observe it to be the practice
A. Sinning against God.
2. What do you love to do the best of of too many, in some of their churches, to any thing in the world?
A. To serve God.
attend divine service only on one part of the day, to the neglect or contempt of the remaining part. Against this practice, so injurious to the spiritual interests of thei: people; so entirely inconsistent with the christian character and privileges, they think it no more than their duty solemnl to protest. And they do most affectionately beseech all who are conscious of delinquency in this respect, no longer to withhold from God any portion of that time, which he hath specially consecrated to his own service.
2. Can you serve him well enough? A. No, master, I sin against him every day, but I wish to serve him better.
places destitute of the preaching of the gospel, and the full administration of its ordinances. Such associations have happily prepared the people for the labours of the pious missionary, who thus came upon ground, as it were, already broken up, and profitably scattered the good seed of the
2. Can you serve God of yourself> A. No, master, I can do nothing of my. self, God must help me.
2. You say you wish to go to heaven; why do you wish to go to heaven?
A. Because there I shall serve God as I wish, and never sin against him."
The Assembly have also heard with great satisfaction, that the catechising of children and others, has, in certain parts of our church, been practised with more than ordinary care, and with that desirable success, which may ever be expected to follow a suitable regard to this most impor
Report on the accounts of the general
The Assembly have received an impression of the most pleasing kind from the intelligence that there is, in almost every quarter, a general, and in some parts of our church, an increased attention to the public worship of God: that there exists a spirit of inquiry in regard to religious truth, & a more general conviction that the power of godliness is necessary to stamp value on its form.
Associations for prayer and reading the holy scriptures, have, it appears, been the means frequently blessed by God, to preserve the very existence of religion, in
We live at a time when it becomes 2 duty peculiarly incumbent, to "contend earnestly for the faith once delivered to the saints." It will, however, be remembered, that the sacred cause of truth, can never be promoted by angry controversy, or railing accusation. It is, therefore, recommended to the churches, to vindicate the truth, not only by sound and temperate discussion, but also and especially, by the manifestation of its sanctifying and transforming power over the life and conversation; and by evincing, that, "the like mind is in us which was in Christ Jesus our Lord."
It should ever be recollected that error in doctrine, hath a native tendency to produce immorality in practice; and there fore, that we should not be carried about by every wind of doctrine. Let us prove all things and hold fast that which is good. This caution, it is hoped, will be received
with attention and solemnity, in as much as the church has been of late invaded by errors which strike at the very foundation of our faith and hope, such as the denial of the Godhead, and atonement of the blessed Redeemer, the subjection of holy scripture to the most extravagant impulses of the heart of man. These and other errors of a dangerous nature, have been industriously, and, alas! that the Assembly should be constrained to add, in some portions of our country, too successfully disseminated.
It is believed that in the revivals of late years, many have been added to the church of such as shall be saved Many, who, stedfast in the christian life, seek to adorn the doctrine of God their Saviour in all things. For this, let the Giver of every good, and every perfect gift, be praised. These happy subjects of divine grace are exhorted to "hold fast that which they have received, that no man take their crown," to "be faithful unto death, that they may obtain a crown of life."
But as it hath often occurred, in former periods of the church, so there is reason to believe, it has happened with respect to these effusions of the Spirit's gracious influences. Transformed into an angel of light, the enemy of souls hath endeavoured to mar the glorious display of divine operations, by inciting to the most absurd and extravagant outrages upon christian sobriety and decorum.
The Assembly beseech all their people to bear in mind, that if they allow themselves to abandon the unerring guidance of God's written word, they will inevitably become the prey of ignorance, superstition and fanaticism. "Bodily exercise profiteth little." The mind sown with the seed of the word; the soul renewed by the Holy Spirit; these profit; these entitle a man to the character of being truly religious: and whatsoever has not a tendency to che rish and promote true religion, is inconstant as the wind, and light as the chaff it
The Assembly are happy to add, that their observations on the prosperity of the church, and the favourable position of religious affairs generally, were not meant to be confined to the presbyteries under their care: they comprehend also the state of things within the bounds of the General Association of Connecticut, and among the congregational churches in the state of Vermont, where the interests of Christ's kingdom appear to prosper.
On the whole, they commend their beloved people to the grace of God, praying the great Head of the church, to vouch
safe to them yet farther days of refreshing from his presence. Exalted Redeemer,
pour water on the thirsty; floods of water upon the dry ground; thy Spirit on our seed, and thy blessing on our offspring; that they may grow up as grass, and as willows by the water courses." Amen.
We are happy to observe, in almost every part of the christian world, an increasing attention to the interests of Zion. The General Synod of the Associated Reformed Church in North-America have manifested their concern for the church, and their zeal to furnish well qualified pastors and teachers, in the following act for establishing a Theological Seminary, passed at Philadelphia, June 4, 1805.
"WHEREAS the ministry of reconciliation is the great means instituted by the Lord Jesus Christ for perfecting his saints, and edifying his body; and, whereas, he has required in his word that they who are called to this excellent and important work, be furnished with gifts and graces above those of other believers; especially, that they be faithful men; apt to teach; workmen who need not to be ashamed, rightly dividing the word of truth; wise stewards to give the household their portion of meat in due season; able to convince gainsayers, to stop the mouths of unruly and vain talkers; to reprove, to rebuke, to exhort, with all long-suffering and doctrine and authority; and to know how they ought to behave themselves in the house of God, ruling well, and being ensamples to the fock: and, whereas, the aforesaid qualifications, since the miraculous effusions of the divine Spirit have ceased, cannot be obtained in any other way, than by his blessing upon the cultivation of natural talent, sanctified by his grace; which cultivation consists in a good acquaintance with those various branches of literature, which are necessary for understanding, expounding, defending, and applying all the parts of revealed truth: and, whereas, seminaries erected for the special purpose of instructing the rising ministry in things immediately connected with their holy vocation, are the most probable means of attaining the proposed end, have been cherished by the christian church with much affection from the earliest ages; and have been remarkably owned of God, for the preservation of her purity and glory. And, whereas, the Lord has been graciously pleased to incline the hearts of christians, both at home and abroad, to assist the Associate Reformed
That their seminary be forthwith established in the city of New-York, for the sole purpose of preparing for the work of the ministry such young men as, having passed through a previous course of liberal education, shall resolve to consecrate themselves to the service of God in the gospel of his Son.
And the synod further direct, That the course of instruction in said seminary be conducted by a professor in theology; to be chosen by their ballot at all times hereafter, and to hold his office and emoluments until removed by a vote of twothirds of the General Synod: which vote shall not pass till a meeting subsequent to that at which it shall have been proposed; provided, that this shall not be construed to impair the power of the synod, on any charge of gross error or immorality, to suspend a professor from the exercise of bis functions, till judgment be definitively given.
And the synod further direct, That the outline of instruction in the seminary be as follows: viz.
1. The scriptures themselves shall be the great subject of study.
2. The period of study in the seminary shall be four years; and the session shall continue for seven months successively; that is to say, from the first Monday of November till the first Monday of June.
3. These four years shall be divided into two equal parts; and the course of study shall proceed as follows:
Every student shall begin and close the day with exercises of secret devotion; uniting to prayer the reading of a portion of God's word; and using as a help some book of impressive practical religion. In these exercises he is to read the scriptures not as a critic, but as a christian; as a savet sinner, who knows no other way of peace but that which belongs to him in common with the least of God's redeemed; and who lives by faith, for daily counsel, and strength, and consolation, upon that Saviour, whom he is afterwards to preach to others.
Such a portion of every day, (the Lord's day excepted) shall be devoted to the study of the scriptures in the original tongues, and of that literature which facifitates this study, as by a faithful improvement of time, may enable the student, at the expiration of his course, to read the originals with tolerable ease.
The holy scriptures in our common version shall be read in such daily portions, as shall finish the whole during the first period of two years: and to render the reading thereof more profitable, the professor of theology shall direct the student to succinct treatises, on scriptural subjects, as they occur; and shall carefully examine him on these subjects
Having completed this first reading of the scriptures, the student shall commence a second course of the same nature; dividing it in such a manner as to finish it at the expiration of his last year He shall now consult the originals, step by step, as he goes along; and have his course of biblical reading extended under the direc tion of the professor.
With his third year the student shall commence the study of systematic theo. logy: and, as a basis for it, he shall com mit to memory, during the previous two years, the whole text of the confession of faith and larger catechism. He shall read, on each topic, such proper books as may be digested within the time allotted, and may give him an acquaintance with the substance of the system.
The professor shall also lecture upon the primary topics of the sy stem, following the general order of the confession of faith. That his students may enjoy the benefit of his whole course of lectures, he must not fail to complete it within two years. And, on the other hand, that this time may be sufficient, his lectures are to be concise and dense, accomodated to the principle, that his work is not so much to furnish his pupils with thoughts, as to set them upon a proper train of thinking for themselves.
In the fourth year of the course, the professor shall also deliver critical lectures; which are to embrace, not merely the philology of the context, but also its connexion, scope, and argument. No authority is to be admitted in these lectures but that of the originals; the student shall have them before him, and turn to the parallel texts cited by the professor. These texts are to be few, and well selected.
Every student shall prepare in his third year, two of those discourses commonly called lectures, and two popular sermons; and in his fourth year, three of each; neither to exceed half an hour when deliberately spoken. All the scriptural proofs cited by a student in any exercise of his fourth year, must be referable to the originals.
Hours of study must be so distributed as to leave a suitable portion to miscellaneous reading; such as history, morality,
Resolved, That every minister be enjoined to pursue, in so far as it shall be applicable to his circumstances and consistent with his engagements, a course of biblical reading similar to that which is recommended in the report on the plan for the seminary, to which they are referred. Resolved, That every presbytery be, and they hereby are directed, to devote a suitable portion of time, at least once in six months, to the investigation of portions of the original scriptures, previously selected for the purpose: that at least one of their number, taken in rotation, shall, at such meeting, deliver a critical dissertation upon some scriptural subject to be previously assigned him; and that they keep a regular journal of their literary transactions, and preserve the dissertations among their papers."
The superintendants of the seminary are, the Rev. Messrs. ROBERT ANNAN; JOHN M'JIMSEY; ALEXANDER PROUDFIT; JAMES GRAY, D. D.; and JAMES LAURIE.
A letter addressed to the members of the Associate Reformed Church, relative to a theological seminary, follows the foregoing act. This letter, which is a fine specimen of christian eloquence, concludes s follows.
"If we use not flattering words, brehren, it is because we are deeply serious; and because we are well assured, that if your seminary perish, there is no human expedient to save your churches from desolation. Here, then, is an object, which, entering into the essence of your ocial stability, prefers a claim upon your surse, which you cannot innocently resist. n vain do you "pray that Satan's king.
dom may be destroyed, and the kingdom of grace advanced," if you will give nothing toward the means to which the Lord has directed for that end. We repeat it a little from each of you is enough. Who will grudge a few miserable shillings once a twelvemonth, in an affair of such magnitude? Who will be the poorer at the year's end? or venture to insinuate that the Son of God, whose is "the earth and the fulness thereof," will remain in his debt for such a donation? The duty is plain, the promise pointed. "Honour the Lord with thy substance, and with the first fruits of all thine increase; so shall thy barns be filled with plenty, and thy presses shall burst out with new wine." Do not act, brethren, as if the word of God were unworthy of your trust. Let it never be forgotten that he will have a share of our property; and if we defraud him of our free-will offering; of the "first fruits of all our increase," he will wrest from our hands that abused wealth for which we do not make him an acknowledgment in kind. Many a delinquency of this sort has been punished with a bad debt or a bad crop; and no man ever gains by the commutation. The winds of heaven, the devouring insect, or a famishing drought often takes away more at a blow, than would be demanded for sacred uses in twenty years. Come, then, brethren, and let us join our tribute to the temple of God. Follow up with your public spirit the token for good, which we already see. Gladden the hearts of those noble youth who are very jealous for the Lord God of hosts; and who look to you as patrons and benefactors. As the Lord hath prospered you, is the rule. Let the rich man rise up with his gold; and let not the widow blush for her mite. The Lord will see, and will graciously reward: for "he loveth a cheerful giver." It is, moreover, a statute of his kingdom, that "he which soweth sparingly, shall reap also sparingly; and he which soweth bountifully, shall reap also bountifully." Do you believe his truth? Let the proof appear in your next, and the succeeding, annual returns. Not one of you will repent as having done too much, when he comes to the bed of death, and contrasts things carnal and temporal, with things spiritual and eternal. Refresh our bowels, brethren. And may the Lord himself "open the windows of heaven, and pour you out a blessing till there be no room to receive it!"
By order of the general synod,
J. M. MASON, A. PROUDFIT.