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cign Countries ; and that, through will supply means adequate to in. its means, the people which sat increasing exigencies. Nor can any darkness have seen a great light, and inducement be wanting to those who to them which sat in the shadow of remember the words of the Prophet, death, light is sprung up.
peculiarly styled Evangelical :Many tracts are yet unexplored ; “ How beautiful upon the mountains and it may be necessary to retrace are the feet of him that bringeth some which have been already pur- good tidings, that publisheth peace, sued : but whatever the variety or that bringeth good tidings of extent of them may be, your Com- good, that publisheth salvation, that mittee have the fullest reliance, that saith unto Zion,-Thy God reigneth!” the zeal of the friends of religion Isaiah lii. 7.
THE GENERAL ASSOCIATION OF MASSA
CHUSETTS. The General Association of Ministers in this State,' desirous to sat. isfy the frequent inquiries and reasonable claims of the christian public, deem it their duty in this communication, to make a brief, but fair and unreserved statement of the principles of their union ; of the important ends, which it is their aim to accomplish ; of their leading transactions at their meeting the present year ; and of the animating considerations, which excite them to perseverance. Necessary information has in a considerable degree been given in our former reports, and in other communications on the subject. But nothing, it is conceived, has yet been done to supersede the necessity or probable utility of a more particular statement.
This association proceeds on the maxim, which is supported by the uni. form experience of all civilized nations, that mankind are formed for society, und that the social bond contributes immeasurably to the comfort of individuals and the welfare of the world. The social principle, which in all places and among men of all descriptions is so beneficial, operates with the greatest freedom, and yields its most precious fruits in the kingdom of Christ. He is the Prince of peace. Love is the essence of his religion, the fulfilling of his law. In the very nature of the christian religion, a foundation is laid for that, which the efforts of worldly wisdom have never produced, a perfect and happy society. The followers of Christ, acting under the influence of his religion, are all one. The General Association, with increasing concern and Sorrow, have witnessed the divisions and alienations among the servants of one common Lord, the disciples of one common Teacher. They have sympathized with the church in her afflictions, and mourned over her bleeding wounds. It has been their prayer, that the healing, uniting spirit of the gospel may prevail; that all, who love the Lord Jesus Christ, may love one another; and that his kingdom may now appear to be, what in reality it is, a kingdom of righteousness, peace, and joy in the Holy Ghost.
On this pleasing occasion we are constrained to express the joy we feel, in view of the increasing harmony among the ministers and disciples of Christ, both in Europe and America. It is to be considered, as a token for good ; as a sign from heaven, that blessings are intended for the church. In proportion to the prevalence of christian love and unity, the friends of truth are prepared for suitable exertions, and encouraged with a prospect of success. We rejoice, therefore, in every event, which tends to banish strife and division from the christian world, and will readily and earnestly promote every measure, which is calculated to turn the zeal and energy of Christ's faithful ministers from every minor and unessential distinction, and to engage thern in defending and propagating those evangelical principles, which have always been the basis of the church.
In the organization of this body, we are supported by that principle of christian liberty, which all Protestants have so highly valued and surrounded
with so many safeguards. We number it among our best blessings, that this nation is free from civil and ecclesiastical tyranny; that we may worship God according to our own consciences; that we have a right to associate our. selves together for the purpose of mutual advantage, and the general interest of religion; and that we may adopt any rules, and pursue any measures, which will not infringe the rights of others. In the exercise of this christian liberty, the General Association “admit as articles of faith, the doctrines of christianity as they are generally expressed in the Assembly's Shorter Catechism ;" and consider these doctrines, which have been generally embraced by the churches of New England, as the basis of our union.”
Here we deem it proper to repeat a declaration made in our report for the year 1807 ; “ that we wholly disclaim ecclesiastical power or authority over the churches, or the opinions of individuals.”
The essential objects of the General Association are thus stated in our constitution ; viz. “ To promote brotherly intercourse and harmony, and our mutual animation, assistance, and usefulness, as ministers of Christ ; obtain religious information relative to the state of our particular churches, and the general state of the christian church in this country and through the christian world; and to co-operate with other similar institutions in the most eligible measures for building up the cause of truth and holiness." What can be more unexceptionable ; what more consentaneous to the spirit of the gospel, and the practice of primitive christians, than for ministers to meet annually for such purposes ? The cares and labours of the apostles were not restricted to place or country. Their benevolent affection had no limits. The prosperity of the church in every part of the world lay near their hearts. This object they never forgot. In every thing, which related to this object, they felt a lively interest. With hearts expanded by christian affection, they sent to far distant churches to know their faith. They travelled from place to place, that they might learn the state of believers, and be under advantages to promote their good. Influenced by ardent love, the primitive saints often met together in order to enjoy free conversation, te increase their mutual acquaintance, to unite in their devotions, and to mingle their sorrows and joys. If these examples are worthy of our imitation, and these objects, of our pursuit ; we must rejoice in that course of divine providence, which has united us in this General Association. From experience we are now led to conclude that our objects are attainable. The please ures and advantages of our meetings have hitherto equalled, if not exceeded our anticipations. We observe in others, and enjoy in ourselves the happy effects already produced. These effects, it is earnestly expected, will constantly increase, as the Association shall be enlarged ; as its objects shall be more generally understood by the public ; and as our zeal, constancy, and union shall be more conspicuous.
The following account of the transactions of the General Association, at their last meeting, is from the minutes of the Scribe.
" The General Association of Massachusetts Proper met, according to appointment, at the house of the Rev. Samuel Spring, D.D, Newburyport, June 27. 1809.
The Rev. Joseph Lyman, D.D. chosen Moderator, and the Rev. Leonard Woods, Scribe.
Present, the following delegates from the several Associations in the connexion ; viz.
The Rev. Jacob Catlin From the association in the County of The Rev. Samuel Shepard
Berkshire. The Rev. Aaron Bascom Mountain Association. The Rev. Theophilus Packard Northern Association in Hampshire. The Rev. Joseph Lyman D.D.) Central Association in the county of The Rev. Elijah Gridley
The Rev. William F. Rowland and the Rev. Asa M'Farland, Delegates from the General Association in New Hampshire, proposed a connexion with the General Association of Massachusetts Proper.
Voted, that the Rev. Mr. Allen, the Rev. Mr. Worcester, and the Rev. Dr. Perkins be a committee to confer with said Delegates, and report such principles of union, as they shall approve.
Voted, that a Committee be raised to prepare and report proper rules for the regulation of the annual meetings of the General Association.
The Rev. Doctors Spring and Austin, and the Rev. Mr. Catlin chosen, as a Committee.
Particular written details received from Berkshire Association, Worcester South Association, Mountain Association, Central Association in the County of Hampshire.
At 11 o'clock the Association attended public worship. Sermon delivered by Rev. Samuel Austin, D.D.
Afternoon. The Committee, appointed to confer with the Delegates from New Hampshire Association, reported as follows ; viz.
" Whereas the Rev. Asa M'Farland and William F. Rowland, Delegates from the General Association of the State of New Hampshire, have been empowered to propose and establish on their part such à union with the General Association of Massachusetts, as may be judged most expedient
, and for the advancement of evangelical truth; and whereas, from documents exhibited, it appears that the principles, on which that body is constituted, are substantially the same with those of this body; this body contemplating with delight the good which may result to the interests of the Redeemer's kingdom from an extended union of his ministers on evangelical principles ;
Voted, that the proposed connexion meets the cordial approbation of this General Association.
Voted also, that the following rules be adopted for its establishment and regulation ; the same which have been adopted to regulate the connexion between this body and the General Association of Connecticut.*
Voted unanimously, to form a union with the General Association of New Hampshire upon the principles above mentioned.
Accordingly the union was completed ; and the Rev. William F. Rowland and Asa M'Farland were received, as delegates from the General Association of New Hampshire.
Adjourned to Thursday, 8 o'clock A.M.
Thursday, June 28. 8 o'clock, A.M. The meeting was opened with prayer by the Moderator.
The delegates from the Association in Berkshire presented a request that the article in the original votes of the General Association respecting the basis of our union might be altered. Whereupon,
Voted, that it be proposed to the several Associations connected in this General Association, that the sentence in the articles originally adopted by this body, which now stands as follows; viz. “That the above doctrines be considered as the basis of the communion of our churches ;” be so altered as to read as follows; viz. That the above doctrines, understood by us to be distinctively those, which from the beginning have been generally embraced by the churches of New England as the doctrines of the gospel, be considered as the basis of our union.
Voted, to choose a Committee"to take minutes of the narratives of the delegates respecting the state of religion within the limits of the General Association and its connexions, and to prepare a report.
Narratives from all the associations represented in this body were then given.
Chose by ballot, the Rev. Leonard Woods and the Rev. Dr. Spring, as delegates to the General Association of Connecticut the next year; and the Rev. Thomas Snell, and Rev. Jonathan Allen as delegates to the General As. sociation of New Hampshire at their next meeting.
* See those rules above p. 143.
Voted, that the next meeting of this General Association be at the house of the Rev. Jonathan Allen in Bradford, the last Wednesday in June, 1810.
Voted that the Berkshire Association be requested to appoint the preacher for the next meeting.
The Committee, appointed to prepare rules to regulate the annual meetings of this Association, reported the following ; viz.
1. That the minister of the place where the Association may convene, shall, when the time of meeting has arrived, call the Association to the choice of a Moderator by ballot.
2. That it shall be the duty of the Moderator, next, to call the Association to the choice of a Scribe, and if necessary, an assistant Scribe, by ballot.
3. That the certificates of the delegates be then laid upon the table, and read by the Secretary or Scribe.
4. That it shall be the duty of the Moderator to open the meeting of the General Association, and to introduce the session of each day by prayer.
5. That, at each meeting of the Association, a committee of arrangements, consisting of three, be appointed by nomination, to prepare the business of the session ; and that no business be jntroduced during the session, but through the hands and by the approbation of this committee.
6. Every motion, if requested by the Moderator, shall be reduced to wri. hing.
7. That no member of the Association be allowed to speak more than twice to the merits of the question, unless he obtain leave of the Association.
8. That the Moderator be not permitted to speak to the merits of the question, but by leaving the chair, and placing the Secretary or Scribe in it, to moderate while he speaks.
9. That every speaker shall address himself to the chair, and be subject to no needless interruption while speaking.
10. That at the beginning of each session the names of the members shall be called by the Secretary or Scribe, at the precise time, to which the Asso. ciation shall have been adjourned ; and that such members, as shall not be present in season, may be called upon by the Moderator to account for their tardiness.
11. That, when it shall be judged convenient, the sessions of the Associa. tion may be held in public.
12. That, at each meeting, delegates be chosen by ballot, to attend the General Associations of Connecticut and New Hampshire.
13. That no member shall leave the Association during the session but by leave of the Moderator.
Voted unanimously, to adopt the above mentioned rules.
The Committee for taking minutes of the narratives made the following report ; viz.
“With peculiar emotions of gratitude to the great Head of the church, the General Association of Massachusetts have listened to the information, which has been given by the members, of the state of religion more particularly within their limits. The Lord reigneth, let the earth rejoice. The church lives, and will live and flourish. The gates of hell shall never prevail against it. Although in some places the ways of Zion mourn, because so few come to her solemn feasts; the Association are happy in being able to state, that the order, harmony, and peace of the churches within their limits are generally continued, and that an increasing attention to public worship and other means of religion is apparent. In some towns in the course of the past year, God has been pleased to pour out his Spirit for the conviction and conversion of sinners, and the edification and comfort of his children. The places, in which divine power and grace have been more particularly manifested in revivals of religion, are Tyringham, West Stockbridge, New Marlborough, Great Barrington, Stockbridge, and Hindsdale in the county of Berkshire. m Worthington, Cummington, Plainfield, Goshen, Chester, Blanford, and
VOL. II. Nero Series.