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lisbelieves the fundamontn! truths of the gospel, rhien plainly preached, is far more criminal than those who inliabit the dark places of the earth, and in danger of a more fearful doom.But if a minister preaches false doctrine, it is certain that none will profit by his preaching, and that those will receive the most injury from it, wlio most nearly coincide with him in their belief. Who will say, that if the preacher and his hearers do but coincide in their belief, though it be the belief of a lio or of damnable heresy,'- they are all in a fair way to profit, And become wise unto salvation ? ·Though hand join in hand, the wicked' who reject the truth, and embrace fundamental errors, shall not be unpunished.”
I would not call in question your sincerity, when you tell me that you think you did not imbibe your sentiments without due (i. e. diligent, impartial, and prayerful) examination,' or when you assure me, that you would not maintain them through prejudice,' or when you pray, 'may our minds be ever open to conviction, and God forbid that we should ever resist the light of truth.'
That I may have an opportunity to convince you of your error, if you are in one, you request me to argue the points on which we differ, in your hearing, with some man whom you may select.' Brethren, I do not wish for a fairer opportunity to endeavor to convince you, than I have in the pulpit, and in my study, where, on all suitable occasions, I shall ever be happy. to meet you. But it is my settled opinion, that public, colloquial disputes, seldom answer any good purpose. On euch occasions, the minds of men, subject to such passions as we are, cannot be suposed to be in a sufficiently calm, cool, unbiased state, either to vindicate the truth in the best manner, or to see the conclusiveness, and feel the force of arguments used in its defence. I would not, however, suggest that I ain unfriendly to a fair and condid discussion of doctrinal points. Public discussions, through the medium of the press, on controverted points in divinity, have often, I believe, been of essential service to the cause of truth. Much light has been shed on the subject of the efficient cause of evil,' by the disquisitions and reasonings of Dr. Edwards, Dr. West, Dr. Ilopkins, and others; whose writings on this important subject, I would commend to your candid and careful perusal.
Should the proposition for a dispute uot meet my'approvation, you desire me to exchange a few Sabbaths with some
ministers whom you may nominate, to preach to you on the point in question. To this proposition, I would reply, that there is no minister of our denomination in this vicinity, with whom I bare not either exchanged, or offered to exchange. And I am free to exchange with any such minister of good character, who shall propose it, on the usual terms. But I am not willing to admit any preacher into my pulpit, who comes with an avowed and express design to preach against and preach down any doctrine, which appears to me to be plainly taught in the Bible. I am set for the defence of the gospel;' and let it be your prayer and mine, that I may not betray the saered trust.
It is to me, brethren, à painful circumstance, that you differ so materially from me, on several important points of doctrine. • How can two walk together, except they be agreed,' as to all essential things? In order to be so, we must be teachable and candid-must receive with meekness the ingrafted word-muse search the scriptures daily--and pray for light to Him who giveth liberally and upbraideth not. In order to bave a good hope of being saved, we must receive the love of the truth. And let us ever remember, that we shall be judged, at the last day, by the everlasting gospel.'
Your affectionate brother, and humble servant, for Jesus' sake,
EFFECTS OF THE 'NEW MEASURES' AND 'NEW DIVINITY.'
Èxtracts from A Report on the state of Religion within the bounds
of the Synod of Geneva, read and adopted in tne Synod at their meeting in Ithica, Oct. 4, 1832.'
The number of churches and ministers, embraced in this Syns od is thus stated :
"The Synod of Geneva contains nine Presbyteries. It has in its connection 180 ministers and licenciates, and under its care 201 churches. Of its ministers, 52 are pastors, and 61 are stated supplies. Of its churches, 51 have pastors, 88 hare stated supplies, and 60 are vacant. All its churches contain 21, 867 members. Three of its ministers, during the Synodical year, have been removed by death, the Rev. Stalham Clary, of Benton, the Rev. Joseph Bracket of Middlesex, and the Rev. Aaron Putman, of Oswego.—The number of members which have been dismissed and received, has not been reported; nor is it ascertained what number of members the churches have adinitted to their communion."
The Report next adverts to the flourishing state of religion in years past; and then proceeds thus :
“But, according to the facts now before us, these indications of the presence and power of God during the present year, are lamentably few. In several of the Presbyteries there is not now a single revival. In some churches division exists. When religious excitements have existed during the present year, they have quickly subsided : the light was only for a moment. Having taken a step or two forth and onward last year, the churches now seem to hesitate, waver, alınost stand still. Conformity to an ungodly world prevails. The sordid strait-hearted inquiry, "Who will show us any good ?" is heard from the followers of Jesus. But the inquiry, "Men and brethren, what shall we do to be saved ?" has almost ceased. A zeal, not of God's house, but of this world, hath eaten us up."
"Every christian wishes to pause here, and ask what cause or causes can hare operated to produce such a depression of religion the present year, such a discouraging apathy and worldliness, such a departure of the Spirit of God. God has not changed ; why is he not among us in power and mercy; Sinners are yet in their sins; why do they not come 10 Christ; The Holy Ghost is still Almighty ; why are they not convinced of sin, of righteousness, and of jodgment; There is nothing in the nature of a revival to prevent its continuance ; why are not all our churches still rejoicing in the manifestation of God's powa er ; There is positive wrong, positive 'wickedness somewhere."
"The reports of our presbyteries to-day have developed soine of the causes of this state of things. Of the ministers of this Synod, 52 only are pastors, 61 are stated supplies.-It also appears that there is among us, a continual change of ministers, a continual settling and unsettling. These stated instead of pass toral supplies, and this change of place among the ministers of this synod disclose to us a great evil, and great wickedness altaching to the churches, and perhaps to the ministers : these facts show us that there may be in the churches fals professors, who, not doing the work of God, become disturbers of the peace; that there must be persons of unstable and uninstructed minds, having itching ears; restless spirits, loving whatever is new and peeuliar, better than the truth of God which is eternally the same. These facts show, that there are ministers also too indolent, or too uneducated to furnish themselves for the pulpit beyond a six months' or one yaars' stock, who encourage this unstable fluctuating state of things. In consequence of this, the great and glorious doctrines of the Bible are not systematically and fully preached and heard. And some of our cliurch members, especialy the recent converts, being without competent instruction, are unsound in their faith. In some instances the additions sit like au incubus on t!e heart and energies of the church. Here is one eauso of the present lamentable state of things among us."
"The reports of presbyteries develope another cause by ss. hibitiog the fact, that with a few exceptions the spirit of beneroleuce has by no means increased in proportion to the increase of our churches. This failure of a benevolent spirit, deprires us of the divine blessing, without which, all is desolation. God will not water those who neglect to water others.
"Another fact reported is, that religious excitements have rapidly declined as soon as special means were withdrawn, indicating that human instrumentality was made too prominent and too much trusted in to the exclusion of the Spirit and power of God, and the simple exhibition or divine truth. God baring been overlooked has overlooked us. In the effort to bless ourselves, we have lost the blessing of heaven. Attempting in oor pride and confidence to work our own deliverance, the almiglity arm has been withdrawn from us. Having lightly esteemed the influence of the Holy Ghost, we have been left without it to go ou in darkness in our own chosen vay."
"If we would see the Lord God walking among us again in glory and power; if we would be blessed again and refreshed, our ministers must remain in their places, and study, and STUDY, and STUDY! They must preach systematically, and fulls, the whole counsel of God, and feed their people with knowledge and understanding. And the churches must be disciplined, dead branches must be broken off. They must be satisfied to hear from the same man the pure, plain doctrines of the Bible if he be a man of God. We must all use the instrnmentality of Gnd's appointment with vastly more diligence and constancy, But not trusting in these to save sinners, we must, abore all, and more than all, acknowledge God, and the power of his Spirit, as the only agent able to overcome the deep arersion of sinners to all good, and make them obedient and submissive to his will. We must cloth ourselves in sackcloth and ashe's for our great sins, look up to heaven and cry in humble, ferrent, united, prayer, spare thy people, O Lord, and give not ihy heritage to reproach. "A true extrct from the minutes of Synod. "Attest,
"ELIAKIM PHELPS, MODERATOR. Tuo's LOUNSBURY, CLERK."
SHOULD THOSE WHO PROPAGATE ERRORS BE EXPOSED!
It is a maxim with many, Expose and refute errors; but let those who propagate them alone.' The spirit of this maxim, too, is now frequently applied to those who are engaged in religious controversy. The moment any particular men, or eveu elasses of inen, are designated, as inculcating dangerous and subversive errors; we hear the cry reiterated, Personali. ties !'-rile slander;'-'abusive calumny;'—and none are so abusively personal, as those who are loudest and longest, in ut
turing these complaints. It may, therefore, be considered as in question, not merely of expediency, but of moral principle, whether any man who propagates what is deemed subversive of gospel truth, should be designated and pointed out as such, to the Christian public.
We affirm, then, without hesitation, that the maxim, whichi we propose to examine, is both false und dangerous. It cannot be carried out, in its several branches, and legitinate fruits, without proving disastrous to the cause of truth, and destructive to tlie best interests of the church. It is, indeed, impossible fully to detect, expose and refute erroneous sentiments, without detecting, exposing and refuting their founders and propao gators. False doctrines and false systems must be traced to false teachers; and the pursuit must be continued, if we have to go back to the futher of lies himself, whom no one considers it calumny to call by his own proper name.
One great object in exposing and retuting false doctrines, is; to prevent their pernicious influence upon the church, and their fatal effects upon the souls of men. But, if this is of vast importance; then it is of vast importance to describe and point out false teachers, and others, who inculcate error, that people may escape their influence, and aroid their example. We may just as well undertake to prevent the evils of theit, without des iccting and exposing the ihief, that lie may be brought to con: dign puuishment, or that our property may be secured against his depredations'; as undertake to prevent the pernicious effecto of false doctrines, merely by exposing, and demonstrating the absurdity of particular errors, without exposing, and warning people against the influence of false teachers.
If we admit the truth of the maxim, that those who inculcate error, are to be let alone, while we only aim at an exposure and refutation of their sentiments; it will prove too much for even those who are inclined to cnforce its authority. Errors embraced, become sins. On the ground of this maxim, therefore, ministers of the gospel and all other professors of religion should be charged to preach against nothing but sios, but to let sinners entirely alone. Sinners themselves must not even be eshorted to repentance; and to warn others against sitting in the seat of the scornful, or to jesist the influence of their pernicious exnmple, must be construed into inexcusable calumny.
It is no indication of slander or calumny to describe the character of false teachers, or to call them by name, and to warn people against the influence of their doctrines and exainple. If this were slander or calumny; it must be slander or calúmny, to describe the character of Satan, to call him by name, and to wara both saints and sinners to resist the devil, that he may Ace from them.
Nor can it be any serious object against what we here affirm to say, that some, who inculcate error, are good men. We readily admit, tllt many very great and dangerous errors liave been propagated 'y some very pious men, who, in other respects,