John Ireland.

A second solemn appeal to the church : containing remarks and strictures on the late violent proceedings of a pretended ecclesiastical court against the author online

. (page 22 of 51)
Online LibraryJohn IrelandA second solemn appeal to the church : containing remarks and strictures on the late violent proceedings of a pretended ecclesiastical court against the author → online text (page 22 of 51)
Font size
QR-code for this ebook

and does not crush or destroy a church even when its disorders are
not at once healed by the means which it provides. Although it may
put a church out of communion, it still hopes for its return. Such was
the case in Salem itself in 1733. At that time the second church in


Boston called the first church in Salem to account, and the sentence
of " non-communion" by about twenty churches was declared against
it. After several years the church in Salem penitently acknowledged
its errors, and the sentence of non-communion was taken off. (Wis-
ner's Hist. Ser. p. 105.)

The political philosophy of Burke, so much admired and applauded,
was applied to the reformation of abuses ; that of the French philoso-
phers of his day was — instantaneous demolition, and organizing the
state anew. The consequences of their work soon proved the wisdom
of Burke, and the folly of the philosophers. The council does not
perceive the wisdom of the experiment made in this case. Demoli-
tion, disbanding, dissolving — no such remedies are provided in our
polity for healing disorders in churches. Such a course impeaches
the wisdom of our fathers, which provided other remedies, and dis-
regards their practice and the usages of the churches, and tends to
bring our whole system into disrepute.

The council cannot but observe that the vote, by which it was
attempted to dissolve the church, seems to have been a very rash and
improvident act, besides being wholly ineffectual. When matters of
great importance are to be settled in the church, care should be taken
that all the male members be notified, and time for consideration,
prayer and conference, personally and collectively, should be taken,
and at last something more than hare majorities should be sought and
obtained.* In this case, no written notice was regularly given that
a meeting would be held for the purpose, although it was a question
of the greatest possible importance. Moreover, although it was
debated at some of the usual meetings for business, it is doubtful
whether all of the members knew that the matter was before the
church ; not above two or three more than half of the male members
were present, and the final vote was but seventeen in favor of the
measure, and ten were opposed to it. It is not our usage to pass acts
of less importance than this without a greater unanimity.

This fact and the subsequent results show the wisdom of not for-
getting or disregarding the fifteenth and sixteenth chapters of the

After the vote to dissolve the church was passed, at a subsequent
regular meeting it was agreed to convoke a council to advise as to
whether or not they contuiued to be a church, and that council con-
vened and advised that the Howard Street Church was not dissolved.
These papers and proceedings are annexed and marked.f

This council is not advised of any reasons or facts which show thajt
the advice of this council does not stand good, nor why it should not
be respected by the Orthodox community. It has been objected that

* Punch. Cong. 170. t No. 13.


the council was ex parte. We do not think it was so in the usual
sense of that term. A church, feeling the need of advice and light,
may well send for the advice of neighbor churches, without calling it
ex parte. Such, also, is the case of a council to advise as to an
ordination, or the gathering of a new church. There must be an
adverse party ^ not offered a mutual council, in order so to characterize
an ecclesiastical council. In this case, the majority had probably
taken their letters and joined other churches, and so could have no
more interest in the question than other members of the churches
to which they belonged ; or, not having used such letters, they were
still members of the Howard Street Church, and so must be considered
as joining in the call, and also as having a right to be heard before
;the council when convened. Further, having seceded^ and not con-
itinuing to worship with the church, they had voluntarily abandoned
rail right to its property, whether it continued, ecclesiastically, to be
;a church or not.

It appeared also, that, having been so advised that they were a
church, they continued their worship and called a pastor, and convoked
a council of Orthodox churches, to advise, as to his installation, and
that the council assembled and advised that' it should take place, and
proceeded to install him as pastor of the Howard Street Church.*
Thus was he settled as pastor of the Howard Street Church, and
continues to be such upon a stipulated salary, preaching and admin-
istering the ordinances. Here is certainly jomna/aci'g evidence that
this church is entitled to the fellowship of all our churches, and the
proceedings of the first council are necessarily recognized as valid,
ratified and confirmed. What more have any to seek among our
■churches to entitle them to communion, than the proceedings of these
councils afford in favor of tliis church ?

If any of the churches were " otherwise minded," our Platform
prescribes the manner in which they should proceed against heretical
and disorderly churches, and all our writers agree that it is the only
way provided in such cases, in the Congregational system. f But no
such steps have been taken with this church, and until they shall be,
this council sees not why its standing should be called in question.

In view, then, of all that has been said, it is the opinion of this
council, that the vote of a majority cannot dissolve a church against
the consent of a minority ; and it appearing that the Howard Street
Church has not been otherwise dissolved, and that the minority claim
membership there, and have acted and still act as that church, and
sustain its meetings, the ordinances, and the ministry, this council
advise that that church has not been dissolved, but still exists on its
orginal foundation.

* No. 15. t Plat. ch. 15. Punch. Cong. 185, 186.


They also advise that Mr. Goss renew his application to the
Tabernacle Church for a letter of dismission, and recommendation
to the Howard Street Church, and if his request be refused, that
he offer himself for membership to the Howard Street Church, and
that the Howard Street Church be advised to receive him.

In conclusion, so far is this council from yielding to the reasons
assigned by the Tabernacle Church for denying the request of
brother Goss, founded on the objectionable standing of the Howard
Street Church, that it considers this church, if notprimus inter pares,
as an ancient church, yet, at least, an equal, entitled to the sympathies
and the affections, the help and the encouragement of all the Orthodox
churches in this community. And more especially should they have
our sympathies and our prayers, if not our thanks, for the stand which
they took in favor of the holy covenant, — ^not consenting to break, but
contrariwise inflexibly determined to keep it, " to hold it fast and not
let it go," thus setting an example of integrity and fidelity in the midst
of trials, " perils of brethren," and formidable opposition without and
within, holding up, as a standard, the ancient covenant of our fathers,
and calling upon all the churches to look at it as the great charter of
all the churches of our order throughout the Christian world. Why
should an Orthodox church be crushed ? Who among us all would
put our hand to such a work ? Why should this church be crushed ?
It is admitted by all, that a church, and the worship and ordinances,
ought to be sustained in Howard street. What possible interest or
valid reason can there be that it should not stand on its ancient
foundation, and preserve and show forth its ancient name and its
ancient covenant ? Do any covet its name ? We are not so advised.
Do any covet its property ? We know not ; we suppose it is not rich
in this world's goods, but hope it is " rich in faith," and if it is a
trustee for its poor, we hope " they will not be sent empty away."

It seems to the council that all the churches must feel interested
to keep this church in their community, and that scarcely a greater
cloud of grief could come over them than would come by the ex-
tinction of this light. The beloved disciple said, "I have no greater
joy than to hear that my children walk in the truth." We hope
that this spirit is in all our churches, and that as the extinction of
this church would be mourned as the annihilation of long-cherished
hopes, so its confirmation and its walk in the order of the gospel and
the communion of the churches, will be hailed as the highest consum-
mation of Christian joy.

Reuben Emerson, Moderator.

A. L. Stone, Scribe.



No. 1. Vote of Refusal.

2. Preamble and Resolutions of the Tabernacle Church.

3. Report of the Committee.

4. Letter of Mr. Carlton.

5. Letter of Mr. Goss to the Church.

6. Certificate of Mr. Humphrey Cook.

7. Request of Mr. Goss for a Mutual Council

8. Action of the Tabernacle Church declining a Mutual Council

9. Action of the Essex South Conference of Churches.

10. Result of the Council advising to the Dissolution.

11. Vote of the Majority to dissolve.

12. Vote of the Church upon the Pastor's Request for a Mutual Council.

13. Proceedings of the Church subsequent to the Vote to dissolve.

14. Proceedings of the Council to vyhich the Question of Actual Disso-

lution was submitted.

15. Churches composing the Installing Council.

16. Letter of Dr. Osgood.

No. 1.

Salem, Aug. 25, 1849,
To Mr. E. Gosa.

At a meeting of the Tabernacle Church last evening your request was
presented, and after some discussion in a kindly manner, the following
vote was passed —

" Viz. — that in view of the circumstances in the case the request be not

Humphrey Cook, Church Clerk


No. 2.



At a meeting of the Tabernacle Church, Friday evening, Sept. 28,
1849, the following preamble and resolutions were passed, viz. :

Whereas a member of this Church has requested to "be dismissed and
recommended to the Howard Street Church," and whereas while the Howard
Street Church was under the pastoral care of the Rev. Joel Mann, a Mutual
Council, called to consider the difficulties existing in said Church, advised
that the Church should be dissolved ; —

And whereas, agreeably to the advice of the said Mutual Council, and
after mature consideration of all the circumstances of the case, a vote was
passed by a majority of the Church, to dissolve the Church, provision being
made, however, for a regular transfer of membership to sister churches ; — and

Whereas, this Church has recognized the validity of the aforesaid vote,
by receiving members, agreeably to the aforesaid provisions for a transfer
of membership to sister churches ; — and whereas, notwithstanding the result
of an Ex-parte Council, called by the minority of the said Howard Street
Church, — the Esses South Conference of Churches decided that the dele-
gates of the said minority were not entitled to a seat in the Conference, in
virtue of their claim to be considered the delegates of the Howard Street
Church as known and recognized, previous to the vote, by which the said
Church was declared to be dissolved ; —

Therefore, Resolved, 1st, That as at present informed in relation to the
whole subject, we are not aware of any sufficient reason to repudiate and
disregard the decision of the Essex South Conference, in October last, by
which the action of the aforesaid majority of the Howard Street Church was
indirectly, yet distinctly and absolutely sustained —

Resolved, 2d, That in the judgment of this Church, it is not consistent
with the principles of order and fellowship in our Congregational churches,
nor promotive of the best interests of the community — to recognize the
claims of the aforesaid minority of the Howard Street Church, to be the origi-
nal and undissolved organization as known and acknowledged previous to
May 4th, 1847, when the vote was passed which declared the Howard
Street Church to be dissolved, and no longer to exist.

Resolved, 3d, That until prepared to rescind the foregoing resolutions,
and reconsider the facts, which are presented in the foregoing preamble of
the said resolutions, — it will not be consistent or proper for this Church to
grant letters of dismission and recommendation to membership with those
who claim to be the Howard Street Church in this city — without any regard
to the proceedings by which we have considered the said Church regularly
and truly dissolved.

Attest, Humphrey Cook, Ohurch Clerk.

Sept. 28th, 1849. — At the meeting of the Tabernacle Church this


evening, the Committee on Br. Goss's request re2)orted and the Church
accepted it ; and adhered to their former vote —

Viz., that under existing circumstances Br. Goss's request cannot be

Humphrey Cook, Church Clerk.

No. 3.

To THE Tabernacle Church.

The Committee appointed to explain to Br. Ezekiel Goss the reasons why
the Church could not grant his request to be dismissed and recommended to
the Howard Street Church, so called, have attended to the service.

Agreeably to what was stated at the time his request was acted upon, the
Committee informed Br. Goss that it would not be at all consistent for this
Church to grant his request, because the standing of those with whom he
desired to be connected is considered by this Church to be irregular.

The Committee also stated to Br. Goss that his own walk had been irreg-
ular ; they reminded him that he had not fulfilled his covenant engagements,
inasmuch as he not only absented himself from the meeting of the Church
which he used to attend very constantly, but has not for a considerable time
worshipped with the Church or been present at their communion season. This
absence appeared to be in consequence of some offence which he had taken,
or some alienation of feeling which ought not to exist, and therefore it would
not be proper to grant his request, even if there was no objection in regard
to the standing of those to whom he has requested to be dismissed and

Salem, Sept. 2Stk, 1849.

Ira a. Brewster, f ^

T Tj >■ Committee.



No. 4.


Salem, Jan. 8, 1850.
Rev. and Bear Sir : — On the morning after the session of the Council in
the case of Mr. Goss, you remarked to me, that the action of the Council had
been considerably embarrassed by the intimation that Mr. Goss was still
under the discipline of the Tabernacle Church ; i e., that a process of disci-
pline had been commenced with him, and was still unfinished, or, in other
words, had not been finally adjudicated by the Church ; and you asked me
if this intimation was true, to which I replied, emphatically, that it was wofe



To prove to you now, sir, tbat the suggestion was not true, I submit to^
you, agreeably to your request, the following brief statement of facts.

1. When Br. Goss first presented his request to the Church for a letter of
dismission and recommendation to the Howard Street Church, no intimation
whatever was made by any one, that any brother had commenced a course
of discipline with him. And, besides, the pastor distinctly stated to the
Church, that he had intended, that very week, to request some one of
the brethren to converse with Br. Goss in relation to his long absence from
the meetings and communion of the Church ; but that the request of Br.
Goss had taken him by surprise.

2. After the Church had voted, that, " under the circumstances," the
request of Br. Goss could not be granted, he sent in a communication,
desiring to know what " the circumstances " were. The Church raised a
committee, and directed them to wait on Br. Goss, and give him an expla-
nation. That Committee subsequently reported to the Church, in writing,
that they had attended to the duty assigned them, and had told Br. Goss
that the reasons for refusing his request were two ; viz., that the Howard
Street Church, so called, was not considered by them as a regular church,
and that his walk had been disorderly. Br. Goss then appeared before the
Church, and asked permission to reply to the two reasons assigned by the
Committee ; but he was told by the pastor that he could not be allowed to
reply at all ; not, certainly to the first reason, because the Church had
tsiken Jinal action on the subject of the Howard Street Church, and there-
fore that subject could not be re-opened ; and not even to the second reason,,
because the Church had not only brought no such charge, but had made no
charge whatever against him. And when it was suggested that the action
of a committee of the Church was, in reality, the action of the Church, the
pastor replied, that the report of the Committee had only been accepted, but
not adopted, and that, therefore, their action was but the action of individuals,
and not the action of the Church. And Br. Goss was told by the pastor
and certain members of the Church, over and over again, that the Church
had neither charges nor charge against him ; and accordingly he was not
allowed to make any reply.

3. After the Church had refused to hear Br. Goss, and he had retired,
it was suggested by some one, that his long absence from the communion of
the Church was wrong, and was a fit subject for church discipline. There-
upon I immediately rose in my place, and stated that I hoped a course of
discipline would now be commenced with Br. Goss forthivitk. The pastor
stated in reply, that there were cases, which, for certain reasons, ought to
be delayed ; and intimated that this was a case which ought to be deferred
to a future time.

From these facts, you can judge as well as I, whether the intimation,
which you said was thrown out during the session of the Council, was true
or not.

Very respectfully, yours,

0. Carlton.
Rev. E. Beecher, D. D.


No. 5.


Salem, Sept. 14th, 1849.
To THE Tabernacle Church.

Dear Brethren : — Deacon Perley and Brewster called on me last evening
■as a Committee of the Church to explain the circumstances in the case why
you voted not to grant my request for a dismission and letter to the Howard
Street Church.

The first reason they gave was. That the course the Church had taken in
regard to the Howard Street Church, in receiving her members was, that the
Church is broken up, and therefore to be consistent with that course could
not grant my request. The second was. That the Church apprehended
that there might be ill feelings towards some members of the Church.
Whether that apprehension was well grounded they knew not, except my
long absence from the communion.

In reply to the first, I will inform the Church, that the brethren and
sisters that remain at the Howard Street Church sought counsel and advice
of sister churches (with which you are in fellowship) , in their trials and
difficulties, and have acted in accordance with that advice, and since then
they have settled a pastor by Council of sister churches, to which you have
and are accustomed to dismiss and receive members, and to which you also
were invited. You cannot therefore expect me to surrender my rights and
privileges to such a plea. I therefore renew my request.

To the second, I can only say I know of no unkind feeling to any member
on my part ; if there is, or has been, I wish their forgiveness as they would
Tie forgiven. As for my long absence from the communion, my intention
has long been known by a large part of the Church, and to the pastor for
more than a year, and I have communed with the Howard Street Church
regularly ever since.

From your brother in Christ,


No. 6.

1 hereby certify that as clerk of Tabernacle Church I have furnished Br.
Ezekiel Goss with copies of the following documents, viz. :

1. The vote of the Church, Aug; 25, 1849.

2. The report of the Committee which was appointed to state to him the
reasons why his request was not granted.

3. The resolutions adopted by the Church respecting Howard Street
Church, and the second vote declining to dismiss him, passed Sept. 28,


4. The reasons put on record for declining his request for a Mutual
Council, and that these are all the record of proceedings in his case up to
the 20th of Nov , 1849.

I also certify that on the 26th day of October, Mr. Goss desired an
opportunity in Church meeting to make some communication to the Church,
touching their objections to granting him a dismission, which was refused by
the pastor and Church, on the ground that so far as Howard Street Church
was concerned, the action of the Church could not be changed, and, second,
that the Church had no charges against him that demanded any communica-
tion from him. It was repeatedly said to him, we have nothing against you.

Salem, Dec 26, 1849.

No. 7.

To THE Tabernacle Church.

Dear Brethren : — I have repeatedly requested of you a dismission and
recommendation to the Howard Street Church in this city. My request has
a,s often been refused. I do not now wish to present further reasons for my
request, for I am assured by your pastor that there are no charges against
me, and still my request cannot be granted. I therefore respectfully request
that you will unite with me in calling a mutual council according to the
usage of the Congregational Church, to consider and advise with reference
to the following questions, viz.:

1st. Was I in good and regular standing as a member of the Tabernacle
Church on the 25th of August, 1849 ?

2d. Has any thing taken place in reference to the question of my request
for a dismission since that time that renders it improper that I should have a
letter in the usual form ?

3d. Is the standing of the Howard Street Church such that the Tabernacle
Church ought not to recommend members to its communion ?

I would propose that the Council should be composed of churches whose
ministers have never been called to act in the case of the Howard Street
Church during its last difficulties.

I will be ready to meet your Committee at any suitable time on a few
hours' notice, for the purpose of selecting the Council and preparing the
letters missive.

From your brother in Christ,

EzEKiEL Goss.

Salem, Oct. SOth, 1849.

N. B. On account of business arrangements I would earnestly request
that the Church would act on it on Friday evening next at the close of their
preparatory lecture.


No. 8.


. Salem, Nov. 9, 1849.
At a meeting of the Tabernacle Church, Friday evening, the request of
Br. Goss for a mutual council was acted upon, and the following vote was
passed, viz.:

"Whereas our Br. Ezekiel Goss, has requested this church to unite with
him in calling a mutual council " to consider and advise with reference to
the following questions, viz. : —

1st, Was I in good and regular standing as a member of the Tabernacle
Church, on the 25th of August, 1849?

2d. Has any thing taken place in reference to the question of my request
for a dismission, since that time, that renders it improper that I should have
a letter in the usual form ?

3d. Is the standing of Howard Street Church such, that the Tabernacle
Church ought not to recommend members to its communion ? —

Therefore, voted, that the following answer be given to his request, viz. :

In regard to the first of the questions, which it is proposed to submit to a
mutual council, the Church has not taken action in a judicial manner, and
the hope has been cherished, and still is, that both the expediency and the
necessity of such action may be entirely precluded. If, however, the long
absence of Br. Goss from the communion and meetings of the church previous
to Aug. 25 should ever be brought before the Church, in the regular process
of discipline, the Church has no reason to anticipate any such difSculties in
the case, as would give occasion, in the smallest degree, for the advice of a

Upon the second question, which it is proposed to submit to a mutual
council, — the Church has taken no action whatever, neither has any been
contemplated, so far as is known to the Church. As, therefore, the subject
matter of neither of these questions, has been adjudicated in the Church,
nor even introduced into the Church for the purpose of adjudication, there
can be no propriety in calling a mutual council in such circumstances " to

Online LibraryJohn IrelandA second solemn appeal to the church : containing remarks and strictures on the late violent proceedings of a pretended ecclesiastical court against the author → online text (page 22 of 51)