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“How vain then are those, that, assuming a liberty to themselves, would yet tie all men to
At a meeting of the Church of the First Congregational Society in Salem, at the house of the Rev. Mr. Upham, Feb. 18, and by adjournment Feb. 19, 1832, the following proceedings were adopted :
The Committee appointed to correspond with the Tabernacle Church on the subject of Mrs. Baker's application to be recommended to the communion of the First Church, and who were subsequently instructed to consider and reply to the charge of that church respecting the christian character of this church, having reported a full answer thereto, in the form of a letter addressed to the Tabernacle Church, it was thereupon voted, that the same be accepted.
And whereas the Tabernacle Church, in their last communication to this Church, appear to have taken leave of the correspondence on this subject, while they manifest a perfect readiness to receive information and satisfaction that their said charge is unfounded; and whereas the answer now reported is designed to give such information and satisfaction to all the members of that church, and may be useful to others, also, laboring under similar erroneous impressions, which purposes cannot be accomplished without printing the same: therefore voted
That the Committee who reported the answer, be directed and authorized to cause the same to be printed, together with so much of the correspondence and proceedings connected therewith, as they may judge expedient ; and that a copy of the publication be communicated to the Tabernacle Church.
Copy of Record.
Senior Pastor of the First Church in Salem.
The Church of the First Congregational Society in Salem,
to the Tabernacle Church :
We have duly received your reply dated the 17th of January, to our communication addressed to you on the 8th of November last, vindicating this church from your charge against it of having manifested “ an entire disregard to the discipline of your church, by readily admitting to its communion those who have been excommunicated by you.” Our refutation of this charge appeared to us so complete and satisfactory, that we cannot conceal our surprise at the manner in which it has been received by you, and your want of candor in not retracting a charge so clearly proved to be groundless and unjust. But it is not our intention here to go into any examination of your reply, having no disposition to extend this discussion unnecessarily, and finding nothing in the principles or facts stated by you, which materially affects the merits of our defence against this charge.
But the manner in which you allude to and reiterate your other charge, which you now represent as a “charge of a dereliction from the great doctrines of Christianity,” has led us to think it more important than we had supposed, to give to that also a full and thorough consideration. We are the more encouraged to undertake this from your having expressed “the pleasure which you should experience on ascertaining that this, your far weightier charge, is equally unfounded.” We may, therefore, expect your candid attention, and if you will but favor us with that, we have no doubt of being able to afford you such pleasure in the fullest degree, and also to convince you, upon serious reflection, that your charge is no less presumptuous than unwar
rantable, no less inconsistent with your own character as protestant professors, than it is injurious to ours as christian believers.
The hope of thus leading your minds into more enlarged and just views of the rights and duties of christians, in respect to each other; will be our principal motive in going into a far more extended consideration of the subject, than the immediate occasion requires.
Your charge respecting the christian character of this church was originally stated as in the first part of the following vote :
“ Unanimously Voted, That this church cannot grant the request of Mrs. Martha Baker, for the reasons following, viz :
First, Because this church cannot consistently recognise any church as a “sister church,” which, in our judgment, rejects those doctrines that we feel bound to receive as the fundamental doctrines of christianity; and
Secondly, Because this church cannot consent to hold fellowship with any church which manifests an entire disregard to the discipline of this church, and which, by readily admitting to its communion those who have been excommunicated by us, virtually declares the disciplinary acts of this church to be “ null and void.'
You justly regard the charge first alleged here, especially as now represented by you, to be “ far weightier” than the other, for so it certainly is as it respects the responsibility of those who make such a charge ; but to those who think it “ a very small thing to be judged of you, or by man's judgment,” it is, indeed, light. We differ from you no farther than you do from us; and if we are to be judged as rejecting fundamental doctrines, because we adhere to the bible alone, exclusive of all human systems of divinity, you, for coupling such systems with the bible, may be judged as “receiving for doctrines the commandments of men,” and “ making the word of God of none effect, through your unscriptural creeds and confessions. not, therefore, judge one another any more.” If we are conscientious in our opinions, no error in our respective views of christian doctrine can be so great as that of uncharitably judging and condemning each other. The following passage from a dis
66 Let us
course of the amiable and learned Seed, a very orthodox clergyman of the English Church, deserves the serious attention of all those who are liable to fall into this great error.
“ Whether a good man,” says he, “who is a misbeliever in some points, without any faultiness or irregularity of will, will be damned for his erroneous way of thinking, may be a question with some people; but I think it admits of none, that a man will be damned for an uncharitable way of thinking and acting.' And this, you will perceive, is but a comment upon the apostle's declaration, that although he might understand all mysteries, and have all faith, and yet have not charity, he was nothing.
We beg leave, in the first place, to make a few remarks upon certain statements in your Rev. Pastor's letter communicating the vote of your church respecting Mrs. Baker. This vote appears to us to present a rule of proceeding as novel as it is extraordinary ; but your Rev. Pastor states that it “is not regarded as presenting any new view of the principle on which, in relation to other churches, you have long felt it your duty to act.” This representation, we think, must have proceeded from a misrecollection, or inexperience, as to the past history and affairs of church; for so recently as since the settlement of our junior pastor, an instance has occurred of a recommendation from this church to yours, which we have always understood was received with the usual courtesy. And it is deserving of remark, that, in considering Mr. Brown's application to be recommended by you to this church, you do not appear to intimate that there was any question about recommending him, on account of the church to which he wished to become united. On the
On the contrary, the question, at that time, seems never to have been raised. This church certainly, during its existence of more than two hundred years, has known of no such principle, as you now set up, in its intercourse with other churches, either in receiving or granting recommendations of members who wished to transfer their connexion to or from this church. Within our own knowledge, repeated instances of this kind of christian courtesy, both in re
*" Discourses''-_ Vol. 2, p. 81.