Page images
PDF
EPUB

together, a fair opportunity gradually to have recommenced a friendly intercourse, and the cultivation of mutual affection, with your minister and your brethren, even without being constrained to the smallest acknowledgment. But, instead of thus silently examining and dropping a complaint which you could not make good, you appear to have determined you would, one way or other, make an opposition to the minister you sat under. As you could not prove that his thinking differently from what he had done, in his early youth, respecting the duty of the unconverted, was a capital departure from the gospel, you seem eagerly to have embraced a new notion yourself, concerning the duty of believers, viz. That the law of God is not the rule of their conduct: a sentiment which you never was taught in College Lane, but which all the ministers we have ever been acquainted with greatly detested.

While you persisted in shunning a social intercourse with your fellow members, you continued to maintain an intimate connexion with a person excluded from this church for his abusive treatment of our pastor; and who persists, as you must well know, in indulging the most unchristian rancour against him and us. This man's house was first licensed; and a minister, famous for smiting his fellow servants with an envenomed tongue, was invited to come down and preach in it. The licensing of the house sufficiently indicated, that it was not expected he would be received by the

[blocks in formation]

ministers of his own denomination, any more than by ours. Nor can it be doubted, considering who gave him the invitation, but his mind had been previously prejudiced by slanderous insinuations, that we had not the gospel preached in the town, or only in a very imperfect manner. Mr. Ryland was asked indeed for the pulpit; but the Rev. Mr. Edwards avers that you yourself, as well as the person employed to ask it, acknowledged that Mr. Ryland had good reasons for not lending him his pulpit.

Who, indeed, could think otherwise? when this minister came down at the solicitation of one who had been excluded by us, for his virulent opposition to Mr. Ryland's ministry; and he had himself, just before he came down, been writing against Mr. Ryland, senior, in defence of the pernicious notion that the law is not the rule of the believer's conduct. Both the other ministers have, in the strongest manner, declared, in opposition to your false assertion, that they were wholly uninfluenced by Mr. Ryland, in not admitting him into their pulpits, and should never have been willing to have received a man of his spirit and principles.

Nevertheless, you openly appeared as the principal encourager of this stranger; not only attending on his preaching all the Lord's day, to the neglect of the Lord's supper, that day administered among us; but receiving and entertaining him, in such a manner as no other minister was ever enter

tained by you, though the town in general considered him as brought down by way of designed opposition to your own pastor, and, throughout the whole of his visit, shewing yourself as forward as possible in encouraging him: while Mrs. A. openly suggested, that there was room to dread the divine judgments for not admitting him into the pulpit which you allowed Mr. Ryland had good reasons for refusing. Though you afterwards would have pleaded to our officers that you had no hand in inviting him, we cannot be induced, by such an evasion, to suppose your heart was less in the affair than the persons that immediately solicited his coming down.

After his departure, we were informed that meetings of prayer were set up at this excommunicated person's house; which, by your absence from our lectures, we had room to suspect you attended. We were certainly informed that you had desired a person to look out for a place, for the occasional preaching of ministers, whose principles would render them unacceptable at College Lane. It was further rumoured, that you, or your intimate associates, had applied to another preacher to visit this town, who had lately embraced Mr. H.'s notion concerning the divine law. And, finally, you had expressly declared the minister who had already visited you, had come down, because he knew you were starved out, you had no food.

Can any impartial person be surprised that all

these circumstances should excite in us a jealousy, that you had no cordial regard to this church or to it's pastor? Could you expect that the love of filthy lucre would lead any minister, who deserved the name, to connive at your conduct, and suffer you to spread infection, without daring to speak, lest he should lose your subscription? Our pastor declared, that it hurt his conscience to give the solemn pledge of christian love to one who gave such evidence of entire disaffection. And many of us felt the like pain. It seemed to us shameful mockery, to pretend to surround the sacred table as dear brethren, when you were known to speak more reproachfully of the minister than most of the profane would do.

But when we had consulted together on the subject, all we proposed to do, was to send you a mild admonition, observing, that many of us were so aggrieved by your conduct, that they could not be happy in the thought of sitting down with you at the table of the Lord, at the next return of the ordinance, unless you could give them satisfaction that you really felt that affection for us, that esteem for our minister, and that concern for our prosperity as a church, which we think essentially requisite to church-fellowship. At the same time adding, that, if you could with sincerity assure our brethren, who would wait upon you with that letter, that your heart was thus united. with us, &c. we should be glad to walk with you in love as heretofore.

Can you justly call this harshness or persecution? Can you possibly say, we had no room to suspect your attachment to minister or people? Or, has a church no right, after such evidences of disaffection as your conduct had exhibited, to demand of a member some contrary evidence or profession? Surely an house divided against itself cannot stand. And could you think us all such children in understanding, as to be persuaded, it was consistent with cordial affection to us, to plan the purchasing of a preaching-place, for such ministers, as would not allow that we had the gospel, so long as our minister maintained, that believers ought to regard the moral law as their rule of conduct?

The letter which we meant to send you, Mrs. Adams heard, but then went out, and made such a misrepresentation of our design, as prevented your receiving it. You burst into the meeting-house in the utmost passion; and after throwing out abusive inuendos, and telling us you would stand by your slanderous verses to your dying day; you declared you would receive no letter into your house in such a manner, that almost every one understood you to refer to the letter on the table; and then you ran off in the same heat as you came in. And soon after we left the meeting-house, the books and cushions were fetched away from your pew and your father's. Thus you voluntarily rent yourselves away from our connexion.

We, nevertheless, have since sent you an invitation to a calm conference with our officers at the

« PreviousContinue »