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With regard to my return, Dea. Davison expressed a wish that the church might be upon their guard, for his part he did not want to be whipped. Whipping, said he, is not very pleasant for any body. I answered, I am unwilling, Deacon, to have you think that I wish to return, in order to give you a whipping. This is not my object. My object is to labor in a christian way, for a settlement of our difficulties, that we may live and die in peace.
After Dea. Davison, brother De Wolfe offered it as his opinion, that my attempting to withdraw from the church, was only an attempt, and an additional offence, strictly speaking, it was not withdrawing,-I was still in the church, and a subject of discipline as before.
I conceded to his opinion; and wished to understand, if the other members would concede also; asking the plain question, whether they were willing I should return to my place in the church, where I was before my attempt to withdraw; observing that, then if I am chargeable with any offence against the church, as a body, or any individual whatever, I shall be willing to hear and make full satisfaction. And they said they were not willing. After this I asked them what I should do;-signifying that the situation to which I had reduced myself, was unpleasant. Said Mr. Manning, you are sensible, it seems, that you have tied your own hands. I am, said I, and know no way to untie them, but by retracting my wrong, and returning to my place and my duty. And this is what I now wish to do. Mr. Manning thought it would answer no purpose for the church to consent to a partial satisfaction. He said I could make satisfaction for the whole offence before my return, as well as for a part afterwards. I asked if he expected I could make satisfaction for that, as an offence whatever it may be, before I was convinced, it was ap offence? and even before it is brought as an offence?
His reply, as nearly as I can recollect, was a
thought, that I had better save the church from the trouble of bringing an offence. This, according to the best of my recollection, was the substance of our conference in relation to my confession and desire to return.
After this, I then, by way of query, solicited the advice of a council-as you cannot consent to my return, said I, had we not better call in the neighboring ministers, and hear what they can advise? In answer, Dea. Davison observed, we had good council when we did what we have done, also, we should be likely to choose the same again, and have the same advice. He did not therefore, think it worth their while.
Mr. Manning observed, that the church were satisfied with what they had done. He had conversed with most of the members, and did not know of any who were dissatisfied. As therefore, the church were satisfied, he did not think a council expedient. And besides, said he, the church have a duty yet to be done, a duty (as I understand it) which they owed to me-and before they have done this duty, a council would be improper.
As Mr. Manning, therefore, and Deacon Davison were opposed to the idea of calling a council, and as no member said any thing in favor of it, I concluded they all thought proper to decline.
I then told them, as they could not consent to my return; neither to the calling of a council for advice, I could see no way, but to call a council of my own. And then it is uncertain whether I can obtain any relief. And if I cannot, I must make myself content as I am. But no member, as I recollect, made any reply.
At the close of our conference, just as we were about to part, as Rev. Mr. Manning mentioned my exhibition as a principal wrong of which I was guilty, I wished to understand, whether the church would have me consider the mention of the wrong he made, as bringing a charge of complaint against me. Mr. Manning answered, the object of the conference as he
understood it, was to converse freely upon points of difference, and see if there were any prospect of a reconciliation. I replied, that I understood it in a similar manner, and the rest were silent. I also wished to understand whether the church intended to undertake a labor, and call back their wandering brother. Dea. Davison thought that would not be the duty of the church. But Mr. Manning thought, something or other ought to be done. I then desired them, if they should think best to undertake a labor, to undertake it soon. I did not love to be holden in suspense, or if at any time afterwards they could consent to my return, or to the calling of a council, I requested them to signify it; telling them, at the same time, if I should be convinced of any other wrong, than what I have acknowledged, I will save you the trouble of coming to me. I will come to you and make satisfaction.
This is as just a view of our conference as I can give. If the church or any individual can amend, or make it more just, I should be glad to have it done. JOSEPH BROWN
After this conference with the church, Mr. Brown had several others with the leading members in private; which for the sake of brevity, he thinks proper to omit. Especially, as they exhibit nothing more than the same willingness on his part, and the same backwardness on the part of the church, which appeared in the conference before.
The following is the result of the first Council. "At an ecclesiastical council, convened, June 27th, 1821, at Plymouth, by letters missive from the Rev. Joseph Brown, to take into consideration his relation to the church, and report thereon, there were present from the church in Springfield, Rev. Robinson Smiley, Dea. Phinehas Bates and brother John White, Delegate. Claremont, N. H. Rev. Jona. Nye; and Dea. Joel Mathews, Delegate. Putney, Rev. E. D. Andrews, and brother Asa Washburn, Delegate. Charlestown, N. H. brother John Batchelder, Delegate.
Chose Rev. Robinson Smiley, Moderator, Rev. E. D. Andrews, Scribe.
The council was opened with prayer, by the Moderator. Dea. Amos Boynton appeared before the council and expressed his wish, that the council would hear and act upon his case, in connexion with Mr. Brown's.
The request of Betsy Dunlap and Isaiah Boynton, Esq. was withdrawn.
Upon careful and mature investigation it appeared to this council, that Rev. Joseph Brown and Deacon Amos Boynton are members of the church of Christ in Plymouth, under no ecclesiastical censure, subject to its discipline, and entitled to church privileges.
We however, regret to find that there are some serious difficulties existing in the church; and for the settlement of these, we recommend to the aggrieved members and to the church, a mutual council; and we earnestly pray them to exercise that mutual forbearance and condescension, which are so essential to the peace of the church, and the prosperity of religion. Signed by order of the council,
ROBINSON SMILEY, Moderator. Attest, E. D. ANDREWS, Scribe."
Immediately upon this the church undertook their labor, as in the following account.
MR. BROWN'S SECOND CONFERENCE.
At a church meeting, called for the purpose of deal- · ing with the subscriber, as an offender; The following complaints were brought forward by Dea. Clarke, and voted into the church.
1. We are grieved with brother Brown for his manifesting a great degree of coldness and indifference towards the interests of the church, and towards the work of grace which God in distinguishing mercy has wrought among us, and for neglecting our meeting.
2. We are sorry and grieved, that he should vindicate this in others, and go out from the church, and
encourage what is wrong, and criminate them for doing their duty. And we are grieved that he persists in these things.
I was then called upon to answer, and the substance of my answer to article the first, was this; I am sensible that by turns I have been chargeable with great coldness and indifference towards God and his Son Jesus Christ; also, in the duties of obedience and devotion. This I consider as coldness and indifference towards the interests of the church, and the work of grace; and towards every thing spiritually good, this, I am ready to confess, to confess before God, the church, and the world; for them I mourn and pray for deliverance; for this we all mourn, we all pray for deliverance. At our last church meeting Dea. Davison, in his prayer, confessed this body of death; mentioning the very words, "coldness and indifference," and prayed for deliverance; and were I sensible of any thing more, more I could readily confess.
As to that clause in the article which charges me with neglecting your meetings, I think I am innocent. True, I have attended but seldom, and had there been an angel from heaven to preach, I could not have attended much oftener. When it is a little rainy-and if only a little-immediately I must seek a shelter When out on a dewy morning, I find it necessary to exchange my wet stockings for dry ones. Such are my infirmities; and such have they been for years. When, therefore, it is rainy, snowy, or windy-when it is very hot or very cold, I cannot go out; especially in the evening. Now, excepting such days, how few are the days I can attend? Notwithstanding all these circumstances, which make my attendance inconvenient, I have attended now and then, and attended too against other circumstances, which have been very unpleasant and forbidding. I think, therefore, I am innocent of this part of the charge.
Here as I paused a moment, Dea. Clarke in reply thought my confession of coldness and indifference,