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reclaiming you, and of bringing you back to the path of duty must all be blasted. After confering further upon your case, it was unanimously voted by the church, that they could not commune with a man of your sentiments, nor fellowship you as a christian brother. The church also unanimously voted that you be excommunicated from them. (It is presumed that not one half of the male members of the church were present.) Wee do now, in the name, and by the authority of the Lord Jesus Christ, the great Head of the Church, declare the connection between you and this church to be dissolved, and wee do hereby certify that wee withdraw our fellowship and watch over you. Dear Sir, wee beseach you not to make light of what wee have done, nor treat it in a trifleing way. If we have acted according to the laws of Christ's kingdom, (Don't you know whether you have or not ?) he will approve of what wee have done. It is our desire and prayr, that God would accompany this with a blessing, that it might be for the honour of religion, and the good of the church, and that it might be a means of Teading you to consider of your ways, and afford evidence of repentance, and return to your duty, so that at the great and solemn day of judgement, you may not be disowned of Christ, and bid depart with his open enemies, with whom we are now bound to consider you, and as such conduct towards you, (in the Lord.) Done by order, and behalf of the church. JOHN KENNY,
JONATHAN HALL, Jr. Comeely for the Church of Christ in Newfane.
The above is a true copy, verbatim et literatim, of the original, except the words enclosed by parentheIt never was written by either of the signers, but is probably the masterly production of a certain rare genius, who, I am told, gives out that he can confute me in argument, in two minutes. As this mighty champion will probably soon be ordained and settled in business, in, over, and among the church of
No. 2. Vol. II.
Newfane, he may, if we should both live, and continue as bright as we now are, have an opportunity, not barely of two minutes, but even of two and a half or three minutes to confute me. But I should think the gentleman must already have experienced enough, on this score, to restrain his pretensions somewhere within the bounds of modesty. Why does he not set forth how he confuted me when he tried to prove his doctrine of endless misery by the strength of the Greek aion? Will he be so good as to tell somebody, how he got away, when he had stated to me that aionion,* as applied to the punishment of the wicked, meant endless, and he was asked what it meant in the thirteenth of Matthew, where Christ says, "As therefore the tares are gathered and burned in the fire, so shall it be in the end of this aionos? Or, if the gentleman has forgotten, will he now be so good as to shew, how, if the word aion and its derivatives mean endless duration, the wicked can be punished eternally, and yet not be cast into the furnace of fire till the end of aionos, which he says is eternity, and which is, in fact, the strongest word used in scripture to express the duration of punishment? I am not sure but he will be under the necessity of devoting nearly one half of his two minutes in clearing up this single difficulty. But let this be as it may, I must ask the indulgence of this Rev. gentleman, some fifteen or twenty minutes, to remark on his letter, which comes to me in the name of John Kenney and Jonathan Hall, Jun. as a committee from the church at Newfane, to declare my excommunication, and to make a learned exposition of the causes which led to this measure. The drift of this letter goes to justify the church for excommunicating me for heresy, merely, without charging me with immoral conduct.
If the letter means to plead the immoral tendency
* Here appears to be a mistake. Aionion is not used in the thirteenth chap. of St. Matthew; but the genitive (aionos) of its root aion, is used four times. For an illustration of these terms, see the first volume of this work, page 143. EDITOR.
of my sentiments, it should be remembered that this plea will go against the Bible itself, exclusively; unless it has been, or can be, shown, that those sentiments are not in accordance with the Bible. This has not been shown to me, and indeed it has scarcely been attempted, by the church at Newfane, in their proceedings to excommunicate me. Notwithstanding this, the letter represents the church as waiting, with' much friendly solicitude, to see me become penitent,' reform, and return to my duty. Now herein, it ap pears to me, is a marvellous thing. While the church set forth no reason, which they have to suppose me insincere in my belief, they presume to call a recantation of such belief a return to duty, penitency, and reformation! To turn traitor to my understanding and conscience, and to the cause which I believe to be that of my Lord and Savior, is penitency and reformation, yea, and a return to duty, in the eye of the Newfane church! What enormous wickedness is contained in this idea! What tho the church at Newfane may be ever so well persuaded that I am in an error; what is that to me Unless I can be convinced in my own mind, should I not be a perfidious wretch indeed to renounce my opinion ? Yet this church affect to consider such abandonment of principle, penitency, reformation, and a return to duty, according to their committee's letter. My God, preserve me from such abominable perfidy and baseness! Never was a greater insult offered to virtue and common sense!
But because I was not found ready, for the sake of their fellowship and watch, (a jealous and popish watch over my opinions) to renounce my firm and sincere belief in God's universal and unchangeable love and mercy, and consequently the universal salvation and happiness of his creatures, without the least justifiable reason whatever, why then, to be sure, the church approves itself for cutting me off from her communion. The excommunication itself is certainly no matter of regret; but to see things come to this
pass, that a sect of professors shall set up that they are the only true church, and infallible in their religious views, and consider it a sin to depart from their creed, is a species of supercilious tyranny, which, I could have hoped, might not disgrace the present enlightened age. Indeed the author of the letter seems not to be utterly insensible of this, and therefore, evidently, labors to exhibit something improper in my conduct before the church, while under examination, seeing there could be no charge but what, in a moral point of view, was palpably frivolous. I had, says he, the presumption to declare, that it was my constant prayer that God would not alter my views, or cause me to see different. Now I might easily show that this accusation is founded entirely in error, (not to say perverseness and falsehood ;) but I am willing to have it just as the writer states. I am willing to have it that I pray, unconditionally, that my views never may be altered, or that I might be caused to see different, in regard to the extent of salvation. I profess to believe in Universal Salvation and happiness, as the result of Christ's mediatorial process. Now what harm is there in praying that my views might never be altered, or that I might never see different? If I should never view any thing but universal happiness, nor see any thing different from this, to endless eternity, what hurt will it do? But, says the writer, if I should not alter in my views, in this respect, all their efforts to do me good, will be in vain. How am I to understand this? If I see that all mankind will finally become holy and happy, then all the pious efforts of the Newfane church, or their committee, or their committee's committee, the Rev. Mr. B., to do me good, will be utterly vain; but if my views can be altered, so that I can see that a considerable part of mankind will be eternally damned and miserable, then they can do me good. This I certainly do not understand. If this church or committee can do good to their enemies, or those that hate and persecute them, (if such there are) as Christ has commanded all his followers to do, I can
not see why they cannot do me good, let me believe and preach, or even practise what I will. But, on the contrary, if by the word good is meant any thing in favor of their creed of eternal woe and misery, I am certain they can do neither me nor any body else any good, let our views be what they may.
To conclude this epistle, which, for distinction's sake, I will call Bates's lamentation, I am besought not to make light of what the church at Newfane has done, &c. In regard to this expression of solicitude, I assure the writer, I will so far attend to it, as to get the proceedings published as soon as I can. That their proceedings may be a means of leading me to consider my ways, as the writer hopes, shall be one object in having those proceedings committed to press ; nor shall or ought it to be a less weighty object to consider the ways of such pretended christian churches, in excommunicating members for their honest opinions, and to hand these things down to posterity, that the termination of papal tyranny and oppression, may be duly marked by the convulsive struggles of dissolution, as well as the signs of her bloody and infatuated origin and progress. The forty and two months of Antichrist's reign are probably nearly, terminated, and, as "they have no rest day nor night, who worship the beast and his image," it is not to be wondered at that their groans become more and more lamentable, as they see their magnificent fabric crumbling into dust. Let the worshippers of this beast and his image duly consider, whether "the great and solemn day of judgement," of which this letter forewarns their devoted friend, is not already at hand, when they shall be rewarded even as they have rewarded others, and it shall be doubled unto them double for all their sins. If they are "bid depart with the open enemies of Christ," let them settle it in, their minds what shall be their portion to be treated as such.
Dummerston, Vt. June 9, 1821.