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their presence on the Leeds case, and are determined to bury in oblivion all that is past.... They will be silent both in Leeds and other places, appear very conciliating, and use every means to raise themselves in the estimation of the people.” This writer enumerates many particulars, for the thousandth time, which he affirms, “ it would be an evil to forget.” When our silence was construed into an admission of guilt, and emboldened the enemy to increase his forces and modes of attack, and to proclaim eternal war, I felt that I should sin against God and his church, if I did not take up the gauntlet. I am glad to find that just two or three blows bestowed on these recreant knights, have made them sick of fighting, and ashamed of their swaggering
But it is objected further, that I write in a bad spirit. I will not affect a candour which I do not feel. Though there never was a body of ministers, I believe, vilified as we have been in the magazines and other publications of your party, yet I should have taken no public notice of their falsehoods, had not many precious souls been seduced from our societies, under a persuasion that charges so often repeated, and uncontradicted, must have
something of truth in them. It is for your sakes, and not on account of myself and brethren, personally considered, that I have taken up my pen. Had you stood true to us, as you ought to have done, we might have had a struggle in our feelings whether we should regard our traducers with pity or contempt; but certainly we should have made no appeal to the press. The deep impression of my heart is, that your present condition is extremely perilous, and that it is my duty to recover you, if possible, out of the snare in which you are entangled. In attempting this, I confess I have been rather rough; but not more so, I believe, than the circumstances will justify. The apostle complained, “ There are many unruly and vain talkers and deceivers, whose mouths must be stopped, who subvert whole houses.” And in order to stop their mouths, Titus was exhorted
to "rebuke them sharply, that they might be sound in the faith.”. (Tit. i. 10 – 13.) St. Paul had no notion that using the knife freely and roughly, in relation to turbulent and factious men, was contrary to christianity.
When the points of difference regards doctrines merely, they may be discussed in the spirit of courtesy and good will. But when the question in dispute is that of character, it is impossible to debate it under the prevailing influence of the amiable feelings of our nature. We have been accused from the first as being an imperious and avaricious set of men, whose society every lover of liberty and goodness, of man and God, ought to shun. If these charges can be substantiated,
erve all the reproach we have suffered; but if they cannot, then our accusers cannot be ranked among the saints, and have no right to complain, if the justification of our conduct involve in it the condemnation of theirs. There is no room for the exercise of candour in such a conflict. They cannot view our behaviour with candour, if they represent it correctly; and if they do not, what candour is due to public defamers ?
I shall conclude this letter with an appeal to your consciences. Our plan of government was attacked as anti-scriptural, and yours was lauded as being according to the New Testament. Now I fearlessly refer to the numerous passages produced in my former letters, as quite decisive of the controversy. As to your plan, besides its having no support from the sacred oracles, I am not aware, amidst the almost infinite diversity of forms of ecclesiastical polity which different sects in different ages have adopted, that any prior to the Ranters have set you an example of divesting a minister, wholly devoted to his work, of all authority in the church; and of lodging both the legislative and executive power in the hands of men who six days out of seven are devoted to worldly pursuits. If your leading men be in error in this matter, you cannot be innocent in supporting them in their usurped authority.
As to the causes of separation, though much stress has been laid
consider that an organ had been used at Burley, and other musical instruments at Leeds,
many years, without producing any complaint cr protest; and that your people clung to the organ at Burley, at the time they were so vehemently opposed to the one at Brunswick; it seems impossible to refer the noise they made upon this subject to the voice of conscience. And with regard to the liturgy, how is it possible they should have
any conscientious fears of its introduction into Brunswick, when its use in their chapels in the metropolis had the sanction of their first yearly meeting? I have shown that all the other pretences urged to justify your secession, are as hollow as these ; and I have proved, I hope to your satisfaction, that the only real causes of their dividing from us, were a culpable alienation of affection, an impatience of legal restraint, and a haughty determination to usurp. powers which belonged to others.
And is all this to have your continued sanction and support ?
And what do you think of their charging those as vile slanderers who expressed a suspicion that they intended to make a division? You were not at that time, it seems, prepared to go with them; but needed a little more schooling. What think you of all their boisterous appeals to the British constitution, when, after they had drawn you away from us, they denied you a single extra privilege? Can they otherwise than despise you for becoming their silly tools and can you any longer remain their dupes ?
I also ask you, as in the presence of God, now that you have read my reply to their misrepresentations respecting our salaries, what are your impressions ? Many of you know that their bold and confident assertions upon this subject, contributed more than all other things put together to persuade you to desert us. I have shown, from their own admissions, that their conclusions cannot be correct. And will you still continue to hate and execrate us ? Do you not feel that you
ought to turn the current of your affections to those who have done nothing to forfeit your confidence and esteem ?
I must beg leave to make a little inquiry as to your religious experience. Many of you were converted and brought to a saving knowledge of the truth under our ministry, and in the use of those means of grace which are under our superintendence. While you remained with us, up to the time that your minds were poisoned by the deceit and falsehood of others, you found the ordinances amongst us to be spirit and life
souls. In those days you loved God and your ministers; you were thankful and happy. “Where is then the blessedness ye spake of? for we bear you record, that, if it had been possible, ye would have plucked out your own eyes, and have given them to
Are we therefore become your enemies, because we tell you the truth? They zealously affect you, but not well.” (Gal. iv. 15 — 17.) I have proved both from scripture and reason, that God will not extensively own the labours of wicked ministers; and I defy any man to disprove what I have said upon that point: you must, therefore, either deny your own piety, or our wickedness. Is not the securing of our salvation the main thing we have to mind in religion ? Now, according to your own account, you obtained saving grace in our connexion. What did you want more? Why should you meddle with them that are given to change ? And what state of mind must you have been in, when you could turn your backs on the ministers and people with whom you had found redemption, to engage in a new untried scheme; as though you had everything in religion to find out. I wish to impress it upon your minds that you owe much to those who have been instruments in turning you to God, and that it must be a very strong case indeed which can absolve you from your obligations to them, and justify your separation from them. I am quite sure that you can make out no such case;
it is, therefore, your duty to repent, and to return to us.
But do not misunderstand me. When you left us, some other denominations began to caress you, and invited you to participate in their fellowship; and now I am requesting you to come back to us; and I fear you may suspect that you are very important personages. You were told how wisely and righteously you had acted in leaving us; and what sagacity and independence of mind you would manifest in joining your flatterers. I now ask you to return to us. But why ? Not because I esteem you either the wisest or the best of men; but because I think
you acted foolishly and wickedly in leaving us. I shall neither court nor flatter you. I have given you the reasons why I believe it to be your duty to measure your steps back again to the old connexion ; and if you can come in the spirit of humility, our door is open to you, and we will welcome you in the name of the Lord. I am happy to say that several during the past quarter have rejoined us, and have met with a cordial reception. Upon the same terms I would invite your officers. But in reference to these, a word of explanation may be proper. It is so common a saying as to be almost proverbial in the town, that they all want to be masters. I do not think these contentious spirits worth receiving ; we have had more than enough of them. These men need to be converted; and till they feel this, they are unfit for any religious society. We believe, however, that some leaders and local preachers were more deceived than deceivers ; and if any of these can stoop low enough to confess they have erred, we will, without any doubtful disputations, hold out to them the right hand of fellowship. I remain,
Yours, affectionately and faithfully,
LEEDS, July 8, 1830.