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

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comes from members of the Conference, (stated as that which in-
duced the council so to advise,) and is — "that discipline in the
church had been a long time frustrated, — that there had been no
discipline for a long time, because it was impossible.^

To justify this strong language, the church must have been ex-
ceedingly corrupt ; and the majority of the members must have
chosen not to exercise discipline. But if such were the fact, with
what consistency could the council advise that letters of commen-
dation should be given to all, as without exception suitable persons
to join other churches ? Moreover, if there is guilt in neglecting
discipline, it is of course the guilt of the majority, for so long as
they are the majority, they could maintain discipline if they would.
Is it not then a singular proceeding to advise those who by the sup
position are neglecting known duty, to disband the church, and
thus put themselves in a position in which no power on earth has
any right to call them to account ? As a church they could be
called to account for neglect of duty. But as disbanded individ-
uals they cannot be.

But we cannot pursuade ourselves that Chrstiau discipline was
impossible. Was there no member who had love enough "to go
to his brother in a Christian spirit and manner to ' tell him his
fault ?' " And would the majority refuse to take notice of a
complaint for a palpable oftence, the first and secoad steps having
been so first taken ? Was the trial made, and made as it should
be made, with desire to gain the brother, by prayer and entreaty



43

and importunity ? Did the majority in this spirit make the attempt?
However this may be the remedy advised to heal this alleged dis-
ease of the church was worse than the disease.

It appears to this council that the troubles in this church, con-
cerning which we have heard considerable account, and read many
documents, were not attended to, by the majority, or by neighbor-
churches, in the spirit and manner prescribed by the law of Christ
and the provisionsof the Platform; and that the expedient devise to
heal them, was such that its failure need cause no disappointment.
"When men undertake to be wiser than the law," it is no new
thing that they do not succeed. Any other discipline than
Christian discipline, is a thousand times worse than no disci-
cipline. It is known and felt by tt^e offender that it is wrong
and he is irritated ; other members know it and sustain him, and a
faction is created in the church not easily removed or suppressed.

If a church be corrupt — does not maintain discipline or the or-
dinances, our platform provides a discipline in respect to such cor-
rupt church, which we understand was not pursued in this case. If
this church had been in so great a fauh and extremity, as is alleged,
or in any considerable wrong, neighbor churches should have
taken the steps which it directs — steps, which, if taken in the right
spirit, we believe have never failed of success.

However, as every member of the church was to be recommend-
ed to other evangehcal churches, it cannot be supposed that it was
as corrupt a church as not to be able to administer true Christian
discipline. But if they neglected their duty, other churches should
have called them to account. The spirit of our system demanded
this, and not the destruction of the church. Congregationalism is
conservative. It holds on to all that is sound, and provides the
means of healino- difficulties and disorders both of individuals and
of churches, 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 churc';
in Salem penitently acknowledged its errors, and the sentence of
non-communion was taken off. (Wisner's Hist. Ser. p. 105.)

The pohtical philosophy of Burke, so much admired and ap-
plauded, was applied to the reformation of abuses ; that of the
French philosophers 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.



44

The council does not perceive the wisdom of the experiment made
in this case. Demolition, disbanding, dissolving — no such reme-
dies are provided in our polity of healing disorders in churches.
Such a course impeaches the wisdom of our fathers, which pro-
vided other remedies, and disregards their practice and the usages
of the churches, and tends to bring our whole system into disre-
pute.

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 ineflectual. 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 and prayer and conference, personally and
collectively, should be taken, and at last something more than
bare 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
forgetting or disregarding the fifteenth and sixteenth chapters of
the Platform.

After the vote to dissolve the church was passed, at a subse-
quent regular meeting it was agreed to convoke a council to advise
as to whether or not they continued to be a church, and that
convened 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
that 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 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 caUing 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

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



45

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 belons^ed ; oi,
not having used such letters, ihey were stiU 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
convened. Further, having seceded, and not continuing to wor-
ship v/ith the church, they had voluntarily abandoned all 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 stipulat-
ed salary, preaching and administering the ordinances. Here is
certainly prima facie evidence that this church is entitled to the
fellowship of all our churches, and the proceedings of the first
council are necessarily recognized as vaUd, 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 this church.^

If any of the churches were "otherwise minded," our Platform
prescribes the manner in which they should proceed against hereti-
cal 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 hs 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 othervv'ise 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 original foundation.

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 ofier himself for membership to the Howard Street Church
and that the Howard Street Church be advise 1 to receive him.

*No. 15. fPlat. ch. 15. Punch. Cong. 185, 186.



46

In coaclusion, so far Is this council from yielding lo the reasons
assigned by the Tabernacle Church for denying the request of
brother Goss, founded on the objectionable standing of the How-
ard Street Church, tliat it considers this church, if not primus
inter pares^ as an ■ancient church, yet, at least, an equals entitled to
the sympathies'and the affections, the help and encouragement of
all the Orthodox churches iti the community. And more es-
pecially should they have our sympathies and our prayers, if not
our thanks, for the stand which they took in favor of the holy cov-
enant, — not consenting to break, but contrariwise inflexibly deter-
mined 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 gaeat' 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 wor-
ship 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 supposeit 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 extinc-
tion of this hght. 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 jwould 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 con-
summation of Christian joy.

REUBEN EMERSON, Moderator.

A. L. Stone, Scribe.



APPENDIX.



INDEX TO THE DOCUMENTS.

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 Conferance 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 which the Question of Actual Dis-

solution was submitted.

15. Churches composing the Installing Council.

16. Letter of Dr. Osgood.



No. 1.

VOTE OF REFUSAL.

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

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

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

Humphrey Cook, Church Clerk.



48

No. 2.
PREAMBLE AND RESOLUTIONS OF THE TABERNACLE

CHURCH.

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 an"
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 thc3 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 Essex South Conference of Churches decided that the delegates 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 original 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 vie have considered the said Church regularly and truly
dissolved.

Attest, Humphrey Cook, Church Clcrh.

Sept. 28th, 1849. — At the meeting of the Tabernacle Church this evening,
the Committee on Br. Goss's request repo'rted and the Church accepted it ; and
adhered to their former vote —

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

Humphrey Cook, Church Clerk.



49

No. 3.
REPORT OF THE COMMITTEE.

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 irregu-
lar ; they reminded him that he had not fullfilled 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
recommended.

Ira a. Brewster, } ^ ■,.
T n /■ Committee.

JoNA. Fkrley,

Salem, Sept. 28th, 1849.



No. 4.
LETTER OF MR. CARLTON.

Salem, Jan. 8, 1850.

Rev. and Dear 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
discipline 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
not true.

To prove to you now, sir, that 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 reccommendation 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 meeting 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, desir-
ing to know what "the circumstances" were. The Church raised a commit-
tee, and directed them to wait on Br. Goss, and give him an explanation.



50

That Committee subsequently reported to the Church, in writing, that they
had attended to the duty assigned them, and had told Br. Goss 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 taken ^?iflZ action on the subject of the Howard
Street Church, and therefore that subject could not be re-opened ; and not
even 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 repeatedly 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. Thereupon I
immediately rose in my place, and stated that I hoped a course of discipline
would now be commenced with Br. Goss forthwith. 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,

O. Carlton.
Rev. E. Beecher, D. D.



No. 5.
LETTER OF MR. GOSS TO THE CHURCH.

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



51

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. 1 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
be forgiven. As for my long absence fro*^ 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,

EzEKiEL Goss.



No. 6.
CERTIFICATE OF MR. HUMPHREY COOK.

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

1. The report 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, 1849.

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 oppor-
tunity in Church meeting to make some communication to the Church, touch-
ing 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 communication
from him. It was repeatedly said to him, we have nothing against you.

Humphrey Cook.

Salem, Dec. 26, 1849.



No. 7.
REQUEST OF MR. GOSS FOR A MUTUAL COUNCIL.

To THE Tabernacle Church.

Dear Brethren : — I have repeatedly requested of you a dismission and



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 28 of 51)