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It must be admitted that we are living in an age of peculiar interest -there is a movement in Divine Providence which seems to indicate that the whole world is approaching the eve of some eventful crisiswhether it be for good or for evil we cannot determine.
It is certain, however, that in the midst of this general agitation and excitement, the Church of God will be more or less affected,-hence it becomes us all to watch with increasing diligence lest the great landmarks of our faith be removed, and the power of practical and vital godliness be impaired.
In the great articles of faith, as set forth in the standards of the Church, let nothing shake your confidence—they have been assailed, they are assailed now, and they will be assailed to the end of time.But this only demonstrates more plainly that they are the truth of God, and opposed to the corrupt nature of man. If they were of the world the world would love them, but because they are not of the world therefore they are hated, and under the guise of truth they are sought to be evaded. Hence so many, who, while they pretend to walk in the good old way, are earnestly exerting an unhallowed influence to undermine and to destroy them. But ye, beloved, be not easily moved with every wind of doctrine and cunning craftiness of man, whereby they lie in wait to deceive. Hold fast things that are good, approve that which is excellent, try the spirits whether they be of God, or whether they be of man.
In matters which appertain to the promotion of vital godliness be forward, be zealous. Yield to none in untiring devotion for the glory of God and the salvation of immortal souls. Essentially connected with vital godliness is the effusion of the Spirit of all grace. Who can doubt that He is the author of every good word and work? Who can doubt the promise of His descent upon the Church and upon the world? Who can doubt that this promise has been fulfilled, is now fulfilling, and will be fulfilled to the end of time ?-not one. We cannot therefore, dear brethren, express in terms too strong our convictions of the necessity or reality of the outpouring of the spirit in revivals of religion. Let not the abuse which may be made, and which we believe is sometimes made, of the application of the term, impair your confidence in the thing. But while we exhort you not to doubt their reality and necessity, while we would unite with you in prayer to God, that re. vivals may be multiplied throughout our whole Church, and throughout
the whole of Christendom, the aspect of the times admonishes us, and admonishes you, to'be watchful.
The blessed work of God in building up his Church and converting souls, is exposed to perversion by the infirmities or the wickedness of man and the malignity of Satan. Even an honest zeal may be misdirected in efforts to promote the sanctifying and saving operations of Divine Grace. Human expedients may be ingrafted upon the appropriate means of God's own appointment. The machinery of men may be more highly valued than the simple truth of the Gospel, fervent prayer, pastoral visitation, and direct personal appeals to the hearts and consciences of sinners. Extravagances may obtain, a spirit may be fostered, and practices may be indulged, which have no other tendency than to break down the purity of Gospel order, and in the end be the occasion of reproach to the work of God's own Spirit. What may be has been, is now.
We witness with pain in some parts of the Christian church, the introduction of females to lead the devotions of a promiscuous assembly, a practice which we believe not only contrary to the word of God, but ruinous to the benign and permanent influence of pious females in the church of Christ. We have seen, and do see the established order of the ministry invaded by a fearful multiplication of lay exhorters, who presume to exercise a prerogative which does not belong to them.We know that a censorious spirit, in too many instances, is indulged against those who do not, and cannot accord with every measure which some have thought proper to introduce (with an honest intention no doubt,) of advancing the interests of piety. Such, unhappily, are reproached as the enemies of revivals, as destitute of all zeal, and even wanting in the experience of true religion.
These are prominent evils which we cannot but deplore ; evils, which if they, once obtain in any portion of the Church, and if not corrected, will exert a blighting, withering influence over God's moral vineyard, the traces of which may be seen for ages to come.
We have spoken to you frankly, and we desire to speak affectionately and in the spirit of love. Let none mistake, either within or without the Church, the design of this testimony against prevailing errors, either of faith, of practice, or of gospel order. . The present is a time which seems especially to demand it. And believing as we do that the Church of God is not only in a militant state, but that she is
still in the wilderness; believing as we do that her enemies will be.come more insidious as she approaches to her millennial state, we would exhort you, dear brethren, with the meekness and gentleness of Christ, to increased vigilance. We would have yoù, after the manner of the apostle, approve things that are excellent, that are lovely, and of good report.
Suffer us to unite with our cautions, our affectionate exhortations to keep the unity of the spirit in the bond of peace-to employ with increased diligence and zeal the means which God has appointed for your own furtherance in grace and the spiritual growth of Zion. Believing that the blessing is from the Lord, let there be cherished among us more of the spirit of humble, believing, importunate prayer. If-circumstances in the providence of God seem to demand it, let there be the extraordinary use of the ordinary means of grace. You will rejoice with us in the perusal of what the Lord has done for us during the past year.
But his arm is not shortened that it cannot still save, nor his ear heavy that he can not still hear. The windows of heaven can open, and they will open to the voice of prayer, and the blessing may descend, and will descend upon God's own heritage.
And now, dear brethren, the God of peace that brought again from the dead our Lord Jesus, that great Shepherd of the sheep, through the blood of the everlasting covenant, make you perfect in every good work to do his will, working in you that which is well pleasing in his sight, through Jesus Christ, to whom be glory for ever and ever, Amen. All which is respectfully submitted.
JOHN LUDLOW, Chairman.
Resolved, That when the above letter shall be published, the several ministers of the church be, and are hereby directed to read the same, together with the report of the Committee on the State of Religion, from their pulpits.
(See Article 20.)
The Committee on Accounts reported, and their report was adopted, and is as follows:
The Committee on Accounts beg leave to present the following report
That the accounts of the Board of Corporation were not accompanied with any vouchers committed to them, neither does it appear
that the accounts have been audited; or that any committee has ever been appointed for the purpose of auditing their accounts, that therefore, your committee although they presume that all of them are correct, have it not in their power to ascertain and certify the fact that they
Whereupon they recommend the adoption of the following resolution
Resolved, That an auditing committee shall be appointed to audit said accounts annually before they are presented to Synod; and that Messrs. Peter Sharpe, James C. Roosevelt, and John D. Keese, be this committee.
That it appears from the accounts of the Board of Corporation, that there is in the hands of the Trustees of Rutgers College, for educating young men for the ministry, 1. On the Van Benschoten fund,
$18,664 10 and interest due May 1st, 1831,
$1,222 That there has been paid from this fund
the last year,
That for the last year there is a balance of interest unappropriated for the education of indigent students, of $629.
Your committee cannot learn that General Synod have ever had, or have ever asked from the Trustees of Rutgers College a particular statement of the several sums received from time to time, on the Van Benschoten Fund, and what has been the annual income and expenditure of this fund for indigent students. They therefore recommend the adoption of the following resolution
Resolved, That the Trustees of Rutgers College be requested to lay before General Synod, at their next annual meeting, a particular statement of the moneys received and invested on the Van Benschoten Fund, from time to time ; also the amount of the legacy of Rebecca Knox, and the amount of interest received from year to year on each fund, until the making out of said report. And also that they inform General Synod what students have been aided, and the amount appropriated and paid to each individual from year to year, from each of those funds distinctly; and further, that they inform General Synod what ministers, who have been aided from these funds, have refunded the whole or any part of what they have received; and in what manner the moneys so received have been disposed of.
Your Committee also find that the Board of Corporation pay annually $100, for a clerk to said board; the labors of which cannot be any way equal to the gratuitous services of the Secretary of the Missionary or Education Boards. Whereupon,
Resolved, That the Board of Corporation endeavour to avail themselves of the gratuitous services of the Treasurer, or one of the members of their board, who shall also act as their Secretary.
That on that part of the accounts, presented by the stated clerk, as to what is due from the several classes for the minutes of General Synod :
That the delegate of the classis of New Brunswick states, that they have paid for all the minutes they have received, and that they have been charged for one year's Minutes, $14 60, which never came to hand. Resolved, That the account be discharged.