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ANSWER TO THE QUESTION CON- mote, as actively as ever, the
CERNING GENERAL ASSOCIA- laudable purposes of it, and yet, TION
with a higher cbject in view, join
with others in like circumstanProposed in Panoplist No. 27, page
ces in forming a new body for 118, by INQUIRER.
the express purpose of promoting In the first place let it be con- the design and cnjoying the advai.sidered, that the associations of tages of the GENERAL Associ. Congregational ministers in this ATION. Or, cominon wealth are all perfectly 2. He may obtain a dismisvoluntary. They are notre sion from the association), to stricted to neighbourhoods, coun- which he has belonged, and seek ties, or any other local bounda- admission into another regular ries, but are constituted according association, already formed, to the choice and agreement of which has or will have a connexindividual ministers.
ion with the GENERAL AssoLet it be further remarked, CIATION. Or, that as these voluntary associa- 3. He may relinquish his pres-, tions are formed for particular ent connexion, and unite with furposes, the members are un- others, who are disengaged, in der no obligation, which can hin- constituting a new body, for all der them from joining other so- the common pu poses of miniscieties of clergymen formed for terial associations, as well as for other purposes. Nor indeed are the general object particularly in they under any obligation, which view. can prevent them from asking It is hoped that, in every meaand obtaining an honourable dis- sure which is pursued with ref. mission from one association for erence to the great object of the the sake of belonging to another General Association, ministers, of the same kind, where their in the circumstances abovemenconvenience or their satisfaction tioned, will unite wisdom with can be better consulted. This decision. If they do so, ius has often been done, and has presumed they will not be senever been considered as cen- verely censured, even by ihoses surable or inconsistent with the who have not the same views bonds of a voluntary ministerial respecting the general object. association.
They, who bave not joined Now if Inquirer, or any other any particular association, may clergyman, belongs to an associ- without embarrassment form any ation of ministers, whose views connexion, which they judge ex, on the subject of GENERAL As. pedient. SOCIATION differ from his, he For reasons, which need not may, it is conceived, adopt one be now mentioned, it is deemed or the other of the following very important, that this subject methods, as particular circun should be scusonably attended to, stances shall render most expe. so that the next general meeting, dient.
being in a central part of the 1. He may still continue a state, may comprehend as many member of the association, to particular associations as possiwhich he has belonged, and pro- ble.
As a new and animating argu- Board in March, 1807 ; and by ment in favour of the General them approved and accepted. Association, the following in- On Monday, May 18, that formation is communicated. meeting was held at the Rev.
Mr. Gaffee's meeting house, Ertrace of a naher lately hub. New Broad Street, and was nu
The plan lished in London on the sub- merously attended. ject of the general union of
of was then taken into considera: Congregational ministers and tion, and various sentiments on churches 'throughout England
nrland the subject were advanced by · and Wales."
the brethren. Some objections
to the projected union were ." In the month of May, 1806, brought forward by very respecta number of ministers and mem- able friends, · which seemed to bers of Congregational church- arise chiefly from a misapprees, both of town and country, hension of the design, or from assembled by appointment in the manner in which it had been London, to confer on the subject expressed ; other objections of establishing a general and ex seemed to originate in that laud. plicit union of the whole body of able jealousy, which dissenters that' denomination. It had oc- aughť ever to maintain against curred to many of them, that al
the assumption of unscriptural though the principle of the in- authority in the church of Christ, dependency of every church or the formation of any instituought to be inviolably maintain- tion which might, in its issue. ed ; yet, that by cultivating a
endanger the liberty with which better acquaintance with each
Christ has made us free. These other, by communicating mutual
objections, it is hoped, in the information, and occasional ad- course of discussion, were satvice, and by' an extended co
isfactorily removed, or consideraoperation, the interest of the bly weakened; and the plan, kingdom of Christ in general, which, perhaps, through excess and the prosperity of this class of brevity, had been left someof Christians in particular, mignt what obscure, obtained further be more effectually promoted.
explanation and enlargement, After much interesting con- and was cordially adopted by the versation, the meeting unani. meeting.” mously agreed, that such a union
In another paper, published in appeared to them to be highly England about the middle of the desirable ; and that the Board of present year, devout notice is Congregational Ministers in
taken of the remarkable fact that, London, should be requested to at the very time when Congieprepare a plan for that purpose. gational ministers and churches
In consequence of this request, throughout England and Wales the Board iook up the business, are engaged in establishing a and appointed a committee to general union, measures are sketch the outlines of a plan of successfully adopted to promote union. These outlines were a similar objectin Massachusetts. drawn, and presented to the
ON THE GRADUAL AND INSIDIOUS PROGRESS OF SIN.
It is a common saying, that friend reproved her, she pleaded no man becomes very wicked at that these liberties were insig. once. Men are prepared by de- nificant. She began by trifling grees for the last acts of iniqui- with temptation, and now she is ty. Ask the murderer how he the most abandoned of her specame to imbrue his hands in cies. Take, in short, any char. blood. He will tell you, that he acter that is now infamous; his was first light and thoughtless, ' history, if he were to tell it to then loose and extravagant; and you, would be the same. What that, having thus brought himself abandoned sinners are some into difficulties, having also asso- men ; what cheats, what liars, ciated himself with bad company, what blasphemers of God, what he was tempted to some little act despisers of all that is good ! Is of injustice, which he meant, thy servant a dog, said Hazael, perhaps, to repair, and certainly that he should commit this to commit but for once. The thing? Hazael could not believe fraud was resorted to as the his nature to be capable of the means of deliverance from ur- crime which the prophet told gent distress ; but the devil hav- him that he should perpetrate. ing tempted him to perpetrate The sins of some men are so this single act, he was induced dreadful, that we stand astonishto repeat the crime, even though ed at them. We look on these a little less pressed by want ; so persons as beings of another nathat the same act under these ture; as scarcely human. Alas! new circumstances had more the wickedest man that lives is sin in it. At last, murder became only one who has fallen by little necessary to conceal theft, and and little ; he has been, perhaps, seemed only to be a part of the for some time, proceeding in same iniquity.
this downward path. That vile Ask, in like manner, the un- wretch, whom you loathe, was happy woman, who has not only once perhaps in nearly the same forfeited her character, but has condition as you ; he had a conlost all regard to decency, and science which smole him when whose very trade is that of cor- he did evil ; he had a general rupting others, how she arrived regard to God and godliness ; at so great a pitch of wickedness; he had a blushing cheek, and a she will tell you, that it was modest look; a habit of kneel. by slow' degrees. At first ing down in worship, or in seemshe secretly indulged improper ing worship, in the same man, thoughts ; a too free behaviour ner as you. followed, improper conversation Let us explain this point very was permitted, little liberties familiarly. A child, let it be ştere taken ; and if a parent or supposed, is taught to say his
prayers : he is instructed that church in the morning, but not God's eye is upon him ; he is always in the evening, and, after habituated to public as well as a time, in the morning only, and private worship, and his con- not always even then. The science yet is tender. He goes, Sabbath now is employed in perhaps, to school, where some more trilling conversation than older and more hardened boy is formerly. Instead of regularly found to laugh at prayer; and reading the Bible or some religthis schoolfellow sleeps with ious book, he applies himself io him. The child is ashamed to religion only when the humour be seen praying. He says his takes him. The humour takes prayers behind the curtain, or him less and less frequently, perhaps after he is in bed. In. His prayers and his Sabbaths be. stead of taking a regular time ing neglected, the thought of for prayer, he now becomes slack God dwells less and less on his in this duty, and often puts it off mind. Worldly business or till a convenient opportunity. pleasure possesses him. Any Instead of praying to God both thing but God is in his thoughts. in the morning and at night, he He can spend hours without prays only in the morning, or thinking of God. By degrees, only at night ; and instead of whole days pass by without a repraying every morning, he is tection respecting his Maker. hindered by some interruptions, Habits of swearing often grow once, twice, or many times in on a person in the same gradual the week. Thus he falls grad- manner. First he learns to use ually. And now, perhaps, he an improper word, such as, O thinks it sufficient to pay his de- Lord, or O God-Lord bless votions at church ; possibly also me, or Lord help me ; and then he puts up a few words in the he proceeds a little further. He way of prayer when seized by sits much arnong swearing persickness, when frightened by sons, and then his sense of the soine extraordinary calamity, or sin is weakened. He swears at overcome by a more than com- first only when in a great pasmon sin. As his years ad- sion, and afterwards when in a litvance, and as his parents or mas- tle passion; and at last when he is ter exert less influence over him, in no passion). Men fall in this he grows lax in respect to his respect very imperceptibly. Let observation of the Sabbath ; he us notice the unbelief which is rises late on a Sunday, and he is at the same time increasing. A late at church; he is hurried by man who uses the name of God worldly business, and has hardly to swear by it is likely to grow time, as he pretends, to worship hardened in unbelief. Some be. God. The most trifling excuses gin by exercising their wit on are now sufficient to detain him religious things. They joke at from public worship. He is not the particularity of some good sufficiently dressed; he has a man, which they couple with his cold or a little head-ache, and religion ; and having first mockthere is no convenient seat for ed those who are good, for their him. He goes now and then to infirmitics, they proceed to mock at what is not their infirmity; ual. Some begin by borrowing they mock at their very good. what they partly mean to restore, ness. They now grow merry but what they know that they as often as they speak on relig- very possibly may never be able ious subjects ; they joke about to pay, though they do not say passages of scripture ; at length so; and they borrow more and they make a joke of all scrip- more money, though they have ture, and there is no road by less and less chance of returning which men advance more rapid- it. Some begin with taking a ly to a profane, unbelieving spirit very little matter ; it is too litthan this. What we often make tle, as they think, to be noticed the subject of our merriment, by the owner, or by their own we cannot at any time much consciences. Having taken one reverence. It is thus that both trifle they add another; they the holy scriptures, and every take a little of the smaller kind other thing which is sacred, be- of fruit, and from small fruit come the subject of a man's rail- they proceed to larger fruit, and lery during his cups ; and this from fruit to many other little profaneness is perhaps at length things. Having taken a few coupled with indecent and licen- trifles, in order to eat themtious conversation, which is the selves, they take a few more, highest pitch of profaneness. in order to give them away, and
So also in respect to every they soon find that they can obvice which can be named, the tain some favour in return. By steps by which men advance are degrees they take, in order to small. The glutton or drunk. sell; and thus they are perfectard first is a little nice respect- ed in the trade of stealing. ing his meat and drink ; he val. Lying is a sin which also ues the pleasure of a meal too grows on us by degrees. What highly ; his meat must be of the is a lie? Is every false word a best kind ; his liquor strong and lie? Is it a lie to call a thing highly flavoured. He grows greater or less than it is? I anmore and more curious in his swer, that he who uses himself taste. He talks much of his to speak too largely, and to aswine and of bis dishes, and sits sert positively what he knows long at his table ; his meals are but in part, will learn, if he inmore in number than is necessa- dulges this temper, to speak still ry for health; he also takes a more largely, and to pronounce glass of wine between them. He still more positively, till he loses finds that he has more and more his respect for truth. Endeaydesire for this interyening cor- our then to measure every word cial : the habit grows ; the you speak ; be correct, and think stomach is more and more crav- not that this is a small matter.', ing; he becomes first a tippler, A man's general temper is aland then an occasional drunk- so apt to fail in the same gradual ard, and then a thorough drunk- manner. How many have inard.
dulged some little, selfish, peerIn respect also to dishonesty, ish, or fretful humour, and as they a man's fall is commonly grad- have continually thought only for