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ally expressed in the Assembly's Shorter Catechism, be admitted as articles of faith, and as the basis of union. The door is open for the admission of those ministers, who, with all their minor differences, receive what are called THE DOCTRINES OF GRACE. Now with respect to such minis ters, the objection, above stated, may be satisfactorily answered in two ways. First. There is no difference of opinion among them, which need to prevent brotherly love, or interrupt ministerial fellowship. As this is, in one way or another, granted by all, no pains will be taken to prove it. Secondly. A general association is of all methods the most likely to lessen the difference of opinion among the orthodox clergy, and to terminate forever that spirit of jealousy and variance, which has so long disturbed them. A little knowledge of mankind is sufficient to convince us, that the present state of separation, distance, and reserve, tends to increase, rather than to remove their discord in matters of faith. If their discord is an evil; if an increasing harmony among them is blessing worthy to be sought; let them come together, and see each other's face. With respect to every point in debate, let them fully explain their different terms and apprehensions, and engage in the most open and friendly discussion. Let them strive to communicate and to receive light, to disclose lurking errors, and to confirm the common faith. Let them jointly defend that scheme of truth, and jointly promote that experimental religion, which is precious to them all; and let
them unite in fervent prayer to the Author of light and love! Such means, perseveringly used, have never been in vain. The truth is not covered with a veil which cannot be taken away; nor are the hearts of gospel ministers incapable of being meliorated by light, and warmed with brotherly affection.
3. It is said, that such assemblies of clergymen naturally go into notions of ecclesiastical power, and aspire after an unchristian domination.
Reply. It is acknowledged, that this has been the case in former times. But how much soever the influence of ministerial associations or assemblies has been abused; this is no argument against employing them for wise and benevolent purposes. Suppose a particular clergyman has taken advantage of his superior influence to trample on his brethren, and to infringe the privileges of the churches. Does this prove that ministerial influence is in itself an evil, or that it may not be made subservient to the best purposes? How often has civil authority been abused? Yet who will pretend that this is a reason why it should not be supported? This well illustrates the subject before us, if we carefully remember, that ministerial or Christian influence is, properly, the influence of truth, of wisdom, and of prayer. In this sense, the influence of ministers is as necessary to the welfare of the church, as civil authority is to the interests of civil society. With what propriety can evangelical ministers be suspected of aspiring after ecclesiastical dominion, because they endeavour, by union and
joint consultation, to increase infringe the rights, nor diminish the usefulness of that respectable association. Surely the refusal of the Convention to encourage a general association was not meant to lay any prohibition upon individuals. Particular ministers or associations have liberty to form any ministerial connexion they choose, provided it be not inconsistent with the charitable object of the Convention. If any should attempt to deprive them of this liberty, they would show that spirit of domination, a tendency to which they so hastily suspect, and so resolutely condemn in others.
their knowledge, their piety, and their usefulness, and to advance the good of Christ's kingdom? The ministry in this State, precluded from wealth and power, have no opportunity, and it is believed, no înclination to obtain any influence, but that of truth and goodness. Animated by the spirit of Christianity, and taught by the experience of past ages, they will, we doubt not, seasonably and watchfully guard the proposed general union against every pernicious tendency.
4. It is further urged by way of objection, that a general asso2 ciation in distinction from the general Convention is needless, and, without the approbation of that body, would be dangerous. Jealousies, animosities, and obloquies are apprehended, as the natural
Reply. No objection of this kind can be reasonably urged, unless the general association interfere with the business of the Convention. But the slightest examination will show, that there is no interference. The business of Convention is highly important; but it must be very restricted. So various are the ob jects of attention on that public occasion, and so small is the number of ministers commonly present, that little information can be obtained respecting the state of the churches, and little can be done for the general interests of religion. How can the most ardent friend of Convention be dissatisfied, if ministers, still maintaining their connexion with that body, think it proper to meet at a different time, and for different purposes; purposes, however, which do not
5. Only one more objection will be noted. It has been said, that we ought to know beforehand not only the outlines of the proposed plan, but its particular ends, rules, &c. in order that we may judge whether it is expedient to encourage it.
I observe, in reply, that it does not belong to an individual, who advocates the general object, to enter into all these particulars. And if those, who have already met with a view to a general association, should proceed at once to agree upon an ecclesiastical constitution; it might be thought unseasonable and injudicious, and prevent, instead of facilitating the addition of other associations. As it is designed, that the general association shall embrace the great body of orthodox ministers in Massachusetts; it is best that they should come together for deliberation, and that the particular rules adopted, the measures to be pursued, and the direction given to the whole bu siness should be the result of their united wisdom. The greater the number of discerning,
sus Christ be with the ministers and churches of Massachusetts ! PASTOR.
pious characters collected, the more likely will they be to devise a plan, which will promote the interests of Christianity.
This, then, is the drift and conclusion of the whole. The common practice of men, especially Christians, the present state of the ministry and of the churches, and the genuine spirit of Christianity are considerations, which strongly urge to a general association in this commonwealth. The objections
raised against it will not, we conceive, on candid examination, appear of sufficient force to invalidate the arguments in its favour. The foundation is already laid by a respectable number of associations in the western counties, who have met several times with the general union in view, and are taking prudent measures to facilitate the admission of other associations. The proposition has been respectfully laid before the Convention of Congregational ministers, who, as a Convention, thought it not best to adopt any measures in its favour, though a large part, then present, were friendly to the object. The way is now prepared for the admission of particular associations. There is nothing to debar any, who receive the great doctrines of the reformation. The union will take place on a basis, which includes all the essential articles. of the orthodox faith. The next annual meeting will be at Windsor, on the last Wednesday of June, 1807.
Grace, mercy, and peace from God the Father, and the Lord Je
PIETY OF PRIMITIVE NEW ENG
THE piety of the primitive rulers of New England is worthy of notice, as the piety of The the primitive ministers. following directions, extracted from "Instructions for Maj. Benjamin Church, commander in chief of the Plymouth forces, &c. does honour to the religious characters of the commissioners whose names are undersigned.
"You are to take effectual care that the worship of God be kept up in the army, morning and evening prayer attended as far as may be, and as the emergencies of your affairs will permit, to see that the holy Sabbath be duly sanctified. You are to take care as much as may be, to prevent or punish drunkenness, swearing, cursing, or such other sins, as do provoke the anger of God. You are from time to time to give intelligence to the Governor
and Council of Massachusetts or Commissioners of the Colonies of your proceedings, and the occurrences which may happen, and how it shall please the Lord to deal with you in this present expedition," &c.
THOMAS DANFORTH, Pres,"
Similar directions were given by Governors Phipps, Stough ton, and Dudley.
In a Series of Letters to a Friend.
ON THE DOCTRINE OF THE A- to die, is ascertained by our Saviour's words. "The Son of Man came not to be ministered unto, but to minister, and to give his life a ransom for many." A ransom is what is given and accepted instead of the person ran
(Continued from p. 455. )
The Doctrine illustrated, proved, and somed. This ransom was the defended from Scripture.
THAT Christ died for sinners of mankind is often expressly asserted in the Scriptures. "When we were sinners, Christ died for
life of Christ, his dying in our stead, to save us from that death, to which we were condemned for our own sins. This ransom was given (arr) substituted instead of the many, who are ransomed by his death. This is the exact import of the words in the original Greek, as the great masters of that language agree. Even the most learned Socinians, however reluctantly, have seemed at least to acknowledge this; though they have taken much fruitless pains to evade the plain and obvious consequence.
He suffered for us in the flesh. He laid down his life for his sheep." This is granted by all, who bear the name of Christians. But some pretend that no more may be meant, than that Christ died for our benefit, as a martyr or witness to the truth of the revelation he made of the will of God; as an example of patience, fortitude, and charity, under cruel and abusive treatment; and that his resurrection might be to us an assuring evidence of his divine mission, and a pledge of the resurrection of the dead. We readily acknowledge that the death of Christ was designed for our benefit in these and other respects. But this does by no means come up to the intended meaning of the sacred writers. The phrase, here used, properly signifies in the original, that Christ died in the room and stead of sinners. This is evidently the meaning of the phrase in Paul's epistle to Philemon; in which he says that he would have retained Onesimus with him "that (ume cov) in thy stead he might minister to me." That this is the sense, in which Christ died for us, that is, as substituted instead of those, who were condemned No. 11. Vol. II, Sss
The words of the apostle are no less determinate. "He gave himself (avriλurgov) a vicarious ransom." The expression is remarkable, and exceedingly emphatical. Christ gave himself, his life, a ransom, a price of redemption. This implies that his death was instead of that of the redeemed. But the expression is strengthened, by its being termed a vicarious or substituted ransom for (væg) instead of all the redeemed. May it not now be taken for proved, that, according to the Scriptures, Christ died in the room of sinners, that by his vicarious sufferings and death he might ransom or redeem them from death, to which as sinners they were liable, and justly con demned.
Farther; the Scriptures teach us that "death is the wages of sin," that is, its deserved and threatened punishment. It was
sin, that brought death into the world. It is sin, that has subjected all mankind to that condemnation, to redeem or ransom them from which, Christ died in their room and stead. No one is liable to receive the wages or punishment of sin, unless it be for sin, as the meritorious cause. Now it is certain that, when Christ died in our stead to som us from death, he received - the wages, or punishment of sin -in our stead. For what is death, the curse of the law, but the punsishment of sin? Christ did die in our stead, that he might ransom .us from death. He was made a curse, or bore the curse of the -law for us, that is, in our stead, that he might redeem us from the acurse of the lawy. It is true, a person may suffer that, which is threatened in a law, as a punishment, and yet not suffer it as a punishment. The cutting off some member of the body is a legal punishment for some crimes. -But, if this be done by a surgeon to stop a gangrene, the patient would not suffer it as a punishment. But Christ, in dying for us not only suffered, what was threatened as the punishment of "sin, but he suffered for sin. The apostle Peter says that Christ suffered for sins, the just for the unjust. Now, if Christ suffered the punishment of sin for sin; if he bore the curse of the law for sin, (indeed how could he otherwise be subject to the curse, and punishment?) how can the conclusion be refused, that he was punished for sin? How can a person's being punished be more accurately and logically expressed, than by saying he suffers what is threatened, as the punishment of sin, for sin?
Those divines who speak of Christ, as having suffered the punishment of sin, have not only "followed one another," but have also followed the apostles, and speak as the oracles of God. And if Christ suffered the punishment of sin for sin, can it be denied, that the sin, for which he suffered punishment, was imran-puted to him? Was any one ever punished for a crime, unless it was imputed to him? But it was not for any sin of his own, that Christ received the wages of sin, and bore the curse of the law. For there was no sin in him. He was tempted, as we are, yet without sin: He did no sin: He did always those things, that pleased God, who was ever well pleased in his beloved Son. It was for our sins that he suffered and died, and bore the punishment due to us. Paul says that he died for our sins according to the Scriptures. He was delivered unto death for our offences. His death was the deserved and threatened punishment of our sins, and he suffered this punishment for our sins. Is not this a clear evidence, that our sins were imputed, and our guilt transferred to him?
Of this we have also, I think, a farther proof in the 53d chapter of Isaiah. The prophet, speaking of Christ, says, "He hath borne our griefs, and carri ed our sorrows. He was wounded for our transgressions, and bruised for our iniquities, the chastisement of our peace was upon him, and by his stripes we are healed." These griefs and sorrows are termed ours, because deserved by us, and due to us, as the wages or punishment of our sins, though they were borne by