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June 14, 1820. At a church meeting, warned for that purpose, the shurch took into consideration the case of brother Isaiah Boynton. There were present, Rev. Mr. Chapin, Rev. Mr. Read, and Mr. Marning. The meeting was opened by prayer.
Chose Rev. Mr. Chapin, Moderator.
And after hearing the complaint against Mr. Boynton for supporting the Universal doctrine in the use of the Meeting-house; and for coldness and indifference towards the work of grace, which he acknowledged were true, the church were called on to show their minds, whether the charges were supported.-Voted that they were.-And after almost Ave hours deliberation, the vote was taken in these words ; viz. Shall we withdraw our fellowship from brother Isaiah Boynton ?--Voted in the affirmative, and the meeting was closed by prayer, by Rev. Mr Chapin.
A true copy of the record.
August 2, 1821. At a church meeting adjourned for that purpose Mr. Brown appeared to attend to difficulties, existing between him and the church; and as the church could not obtain satisfaction, he thinking them wrong and himself to be right, after due deliberation, the church voted unanimously, That if no member of the church, iucluding Mr. Brown, manifest any dissatisfaction, or disposition to call a church meeting further on the subject, within the term of eight weeks, that we withdraw our fellowship from Mr. Joseph Brown; having pursued the directions pointed out in the gospel of Christ. At the expiration of eight weeks, Mr. Brown having manifested dissatisfaction, the church were called together, Sept. 27, and finding things as they were, manifested their satisfaction of the above vote, and withdrew fellowship from Mr. Joseph Brown, Attest,
RESULT OF THE LAST COUNCIL. At an ecclesiastical Council, convened by letters nissive from the Rev. Joseph Brown, at the Meeting-house in Plymouth, Oct. 31, in the year of our Lord, one thousand eight hundred and twentyone; were present, Pastors and Delegates as follows: From the church in Westminster, F. P. Rev. Sylvester Sage. Westminster, W. P. Rev. Timothy Field, Dea. Elijah Ranny, Jr. Delegate. Springfield, Rev. Robinson Smiley, Dea. Joseph Selden, Delegate. Claremont, N.H. Rev. Jonathan Nye, Br. Barnabas Ellis, Delegate. Charlestown, N. H. Rev. J. Crosby. Putney, Rev. E. D. Andrews, Br. Asa Washburn, Dele. gate. Reading, Br. John Emerson, Delegate.
Rev. Sylvester Sage was chosen Moderator; and Rev. E. D. Andrews, Scribe. The Council was opened with prayer, by the Moderator. Mr. Brown read before the Council, and laid upon their table, several documents, showing the transactions of the church lation to himself; and, also, the defence that he made in behalf of Esq. Boynton, which was the ground of Mr. Brown's exclusion from the church. Mr. Manning, and the members of the church were called upon to testify, respecting the several subjects which came before the Council , with which request they cheerfully complied. The Council, after a patient examination of the whole case before them,
Voted, As their unanimous opinion, that the charges which were alledged against Mr. Brown, were not sufficient to justify the church in excominunicat
The Council are of opinion, that in every case of difficulty, an offending member, who requests a mu. tual council, hath a right to one aocording to the established usages of the Congregational churches in New-England.
The Council are also of opinion, that a local church have not a right to excommunicate a minister of the gospel, who requests a council, without allowing him the privilege of being tried by a council, or his peers.
The members of the Council, however, claim no right to compel the church of Plymouth to reverse or alter their proceedings against Mr. Brown. But they do not judge that he hath been guilty of any thing, which ought to deprive him of fellowship and communion in the churches, or that ought to affect his rights as a minister of the Gospel.
Voted, That the above be accepted as a correct, statement of the doings of the Council.
Signed by order of Council.
SILVESTER SAGE, Moderator, Attest, E. D. ANDREW S, Scribe.
After all, the defendants, or rather one of them, can hardly forbear to notice the extraordinary record, which the church has made of the charges they brought against him.
The first charge, as they brought it when the labor begun, is this ; he signed his name a Restorationer for the improvement of the Meetinghouse.
The second, He has manifested great coldness and indifference towards the recent reformation in this place by absenting himself from our religious meetings.
“Record.--After hearing the complaints of supporting Universal doctrine in the use of the Meetinghouse, and coldness and indifference towards the recent reformation, which he acknowledged were true; the church was called on,” &c.
In regard to the first, how could the church, or rather the leaders of the church, record his supporting Universal or Restoration doctrine as the ground of their complaint, when at the very time and in open meeting, they declared this doctrine was not their complaint; but his immoral conduct-his signing under the Restoration head, which they considered an open profession of his religious sentiments, and defined immoral conduct?
Further.—Signing under this head for the improvement of the Meeting-house, he acknowledged was true, but denied that it was to support Universal doctrine. Altho he had a right, by a fair agreement; yet, lest he should offend his brethren, he gave up this right, and with them hired Congregational preaching. This he said in his defence, and thus denied openly and audibly before the whole assembly, that he had supported Universal doctrine, yet the church, or rather the leaders of the church have left out of their record, that part of the charge which he acknowledged ; and that which he denied, they have brought in, and declared that he owned it to be true!
So also, in the second charge. He acknowledged that, generally, he had been absent from public worship; but denied that it was out of coldness toward the reformation; saying, his family was sick, and required his attendance at home. Yet that part of the charge which he acknowledged, they have left out; and that which he denied, they have actually brought in, and declared that he owned it to be true.
I am greatly stumbled. Were they ashamed of their charges ?. And did they do this, to hide their shame from generations to come? I was about to say yes--but I hesitate. Would a minister of the gospel and his deacons, bring a downright falsehood into the records of their church, to make the generations to come believe a lie: To make them believe that their offending brother owned to be true, what he actually denied as false ? I am greatly stumbled. The Lord be merciful to us all.
ON THE DIVINE PRESCIENCE AND DECR EE.
(Concluded.) (We owe an apology to our new subscribers for continuing a
piece, the beginning of which they bare had no opportunity
to peruse. We have only to add, that we were unable to finish this article in a former number, as was calculated, unless we excluded what appeared to us indispensable.]
The above arguments are designed to prove no more than the possibility of the doctrine of man's free agency, and its consistency with God's knowledge of all events, future as well as past. The truth of the doctrine we attempt to prove from man's acknowledged moral and accountable state. It seems it must be true that man's actions are fixed and unavoidable, or they are not. If they are fixed, why does God require us to refrain from wickedness ? He knows that on such a plan, it is not possible for us to avoid any sin we commit; nor is it, in any sense, to our praise, that any of our actions are virtuous. We all feel that we have freedom to a certain extent in our actions, which if we have not, would argue that God has given us a deceptive or imaginary principle. Besides, how have men found out a system, that is contrary to universal experience ? Has God opened to some men the arcanum of heaven, and taught them, contrary to every principle of moral law and human experience, that the sinner must transgress, by a law of unavoidable neces. sity ? It would appear, those who would extend their knowledge of the divine decrees thus far, ought to give evidence of divine inspiration, or make their subject manifest from the plain testimony of the inspired writers.
Respecting prophecy, we are aware, something may be urged against the doctrine of free agency. But on this ground, we do not expect to meet insuperable difficulties. If it be said, those actions of men, which God inspired his prophets to foretel, were unavoidable by them, we reply, this is assuming the point, which we would disprove. - It is sufficient to say, God foresaw, or if a better word, saw the actions, and caused them to be pronounced accordingly. This is all the position proves. It might embrace more, but does not prove it.
A man may guess some future actions of his fellow