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PAGE 082:
CHAPTER III

them from degeneracy, and to promote both their temporal and spiritual welfare. It was, in their estimation, a measure of no little consequence to the best interests of the colony, to settle among them, as soon as possible, pious and faithful ministers of the Gospel, who should instruct them and their children in divine things, and maintain among them all the ordinances which appertain to the service of God. And whether accompanied or not in their emigration by those of their own choice, subsequent circumstances soon rendered it necessary for them to depend altogether for a supply of such men upon the choice of others. In these circumstances, as they had no connexion with any particular Classis in the mother country, they very naturally availed themselves of their connexion with the West India Company, whose influence was likely to obtain for them suitable pastors, or at least to secure them against impositions: and this Company, the greater part of whose Directors resided in Amsterdam, as naturally, whenever applications for clerical supplies were received from the colony, availed itself in attempting a compliance of the advice and assistance of the Classis of that city. This way of relieving the exigencies of the churches here, the best, no doubt, if not the only one practicable at the time, ultimately reduced them to a state of ecclesiastical vassalage, of no

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CHAPTER III

short duration, and fraught with the most serious evils. Uniformly receiving their ministers from the Classis of Amsterdam, these Churches, though not at first formally connected with it, were very easily brought to consider themselves subject to its authority. Gratitude for services rendered by the Classis, independent of any influence on the part of their ministers to this end, would dispose them respectfully to submit to its oversight and controul; and the result was in the lapse of time, that, either from gratitude or ministerial influence, or both combined, together with the necessities of their situation, submission was yielded as a matter of solemn duty. That it was the interest of the ministers to inculcate and endeavour to secure such submission, must be obvious; but it seems strange, that the Classis encouraged it after a number had been sent over, sufficient of themselves with their several congregations to be formed into a Classis. It seems strange, that the Classis of Amsterdam were willing to retain any responsibility in relation to men, whose moral and ministerial conduct they could not inspect, or that they did not take measures, as soon as they were warranted by circumstances, with the Synod of North Holland, to have a Colonial Classis constituted. The formation of such a Classis, subordinate to the Synod, would certainly have relieved them of a great deal of trouble, and might, in reason, have been judged necessary to the peace






        
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