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What, therefore, God hath joined together, let not man put
*PRINTED FOR THE AUTHOR, BY SIMEON IDE.
For sale at S. T. Arnstrong's, Boston; R. Boylston's, Amhersl, N. H.
G.A. Trumbull's, Worcester, Mass. S. Ide's Printing. Office,
A word of advice to those who may read this little pam.
phlet. IT is common with readers to fall in immediately with those ideas that agree with their own sentiments, and to feel rather more confirmed than ever in their own opinions, because they bave found a book that agrees with their feelings. And it is al. 80 common for those people to resist, as much as possible, the force of truth that militates against their own opinions; and before they take time to weigh the argument in the balance of the sanctuary, they begio with themselves to query whether the sentiment which the author is vindicating, will not cross their preconceived opinions. But when we read or hear, if we do not put ourselves in the way of hearers, but rather take the place, and act the part of a judge, and condemn before we hear the discourse through, and weigh the matter, we must not ex. pect to reap any advantage from it.
The Scripture saith, "Be swift to hear, and slow to speak." It is of vastly more consequence that we should discover, and be divested of our errors, than to become more and more in love with those errors. The exchanging errors for truth, is like ex. changing our ragged garments for new ones, or dross for gold. Errors in religious matters are of a sickening, poisonous nature; but truth is of a cleansing, purifying nature: therefore, "buy the truth, and sell it not." To feel strengthened under our mistakes, is pleasing to our corrupt natures; but to be extricated from our mistaken notions, even if they are torn from us leaving the wounds behind, will work in us the peaceable fruits of righteousness, and make our bed easy in death.
The author of this little work hopes that the truth which he has bought so dear, will spread; if it be not rapid, th
it will be slow degrees, make its way to the hearts of some. He hopes, also, that his readers will not be too hasty in denominating him a Congregationalist, as some were in stating that Robert Hall was not a Baptist. I have not only gathered from his pamphlet on Comnunion, but have been credibly informed from other sources, that he is a Baptist.
It has been the general practice with the advocates of close commumion, within the circle of my knowledge, to exhibit in their writings to the public the disadvantages attending the practice of open communion, rather than to determine concerning the duty of the practice and the drift of some of their discourses has been, to censure and condemn their opponents for their
errors, and to express their sorrow for their folly. My design in the following essay, however far I may have fallen short of my object, has been to know and exhibit what appears to be the mind and will of my Heavenly Father, and that which will stand as truth in the light of eternity, let the disadvantages attending the practice of the same be what they may. If I can gain satisfactory evidence, that this little piece will meet the approbation of the great Redeemer in the last day, I shall feel well rewarded for the labour that I have bestowed up
I am aware of my inability to treat the subject according to its merits; nor do I feel insensible to my want of qualifications to appear as an author of a discourse committed to the publick: yet notwithstanding my insufficiency for the undertaking, such is the interest that I feel in the union of Christians, that I venture to step forth as a stripling before the Christian publick, and to introduce a subject for renewed consideration, which I hope will be treated with all that candour apd careful attention that it merits. That it may prove a blessing, under God, in the bands and hearts of those who may happen to read it, to their establishment in the truth, is the prayer of their unworthy serv. ant,
To my dear brethren, with whom I have been connected in church fellowship, and in particular, to those with whom I have been preaching in reformations, and when we were under peculiar trials, before those reformations began. When I first made a public profession of religion, I united with the Baptist denomination, and continued firm with my brethren in the sentiment and practice of communing with Baptist church members only, for about fourteen years. Just before the close of the fourteenth year, on the 25th day of February, A. D. 1819, as I was riding from Jaffrey to Greenfield, N. H. such serious queries arose in
my mind, whether I was certainly right in my belief and practice in this matter, that I concluded I would have recourge to the word of God, and the throne of grace, in order to determine, if possible, whether I was right or wrong: and that I would come to a decision, if possible, before I read any author on either side. Accordingly I improved every convenient opportunity, while preaching at Greenfield, for research and writing down my views till March 18, in the same year, when I became fully establish ed in the sentiment of open or Christian communion. But I disclosed my feelings to none, excepting two persons, for more than a year; concluding that it would be best for me to review the subject again and again, and to look to the Father of lights, for true light and to continue to preach, and administer the ordinances of the gospel, as I had done, till I became satisfied that duty required me to open my mind to others. I, however, imme diately after this revolution in my mind, had that knowledge of the trials attending other christians upon a change of sentiment, that I knew nothing about before, although my mind was changed in one point only, viz: in communion at the table. Sometimes, when I was engaged in preaching, visiting, or in some other way, I had great enjoyment in religion; but at other times, when this sentiment came rushing into my mind, the thoughts of being separated from my brethren, and the lambs of the flock that I had baptized, (as I supposed they would separate me from their company at the table, if I should reduce my sentiments to practice) brought such severe trials upon my mind, that it is impossible to express them.
Nov. 8, 1819, I reviewed what I had written, and found no essential alteration in the state of my mind. Nov. 9, I kept as a day of secret fasting and prayer, and besought the Lord to lead me as he would have me to go.-Nov. 14, I set apart to spend in secret fasting and prayer, to search for further light; and in the forenoon I opened my mind to the second person, Mrs. Brooks; we conversed some time in love and candour, as I trust; but she was much affected with the news of a change in my sentiment, and before we closed the conversation, she mentioned what the consequence would be, if ever I practiced as I believed. These remarks, coming from the nearest friend on earth, at first somewhat affected my heart; but retiring to another room, and opening my bible, I found an antidote in the 46th Psalm., Nov. 28, I observed as another day of fasting and prayer, with reference to my trials on the terms of communion.-Dec. 5th I set apart to observe in the same manner.
About this time I wrote a long letter to send to a brother in the ministry, to whom I disclosed niy views, and requested bis
prayer. lb, 1821, I set apart as another day of fasting and advice, I laid it by for a while, and reviewed it again and again, and was repeatedly on the point of sending it; but never did, thinking every time when I was almost ready to seal it, that the trial of opening my mind was so great, that I could not do it.
look to the Lord for wisdom, to know whether the time had fully come for making my sentiment known to more of my brethren. Since my last date, I have conversed privately with two of my brethren, and have repeatedly felt so impressed with the duty of opening my mind to the Church to which I belonged, that I have almost promised that I would not let another opportunity pass.
But as the time for a ministerial conference was approaching, I concluded it would be best, first to open my mind to those fathers and wise men in Israel, supposing I should get the best counsel from them. I have had great trials to-day, and think if I had made known my views upon this subject in times past, to those who believed as I did, I should have received some consolation from their conversation. But I have thought, through the series of my trials, I would endeavour to pursue the method that would be best calculated to pre* vent being influenced by others to go astray. I have therefore i borne my burden alone, receiving no assistance from any of hasi my fellow.creatures. But I have found that consolation, in
trusting in the Lord for support, which I cannot express. ToI day, although my body is weak through fasting, the thought of . God's supporting presence granted to ancient saints under their
greatest conflicts, and what I have experienced myself in seasons past, invigorates my spirits at the present time.
Aug. 29, 1821. I attended a ministerial conference, and ci there disclosed my sentiment to my brethrer for the first time,
except in a private way. But, so far from finding any relief from my trials, I found they'rather increased. My brethren were all of a different opinion, and argued against me, although they were very tender.
Sept. 7th. Ata Church Meeting at Goshen, I laid open my mind before my brethren, and soon perceived it brought a trial
upon their minds.--Sept. 8th.-I expressed my views to my El brethren at Washington, a place where I had been preaching a little while before. Soon after this I made my mind known in. publiek, at a place where I had been preaching. A reformation rau commenced, and a number contemplated uniting together church fellowship, on the open communion plan, but oon were informed by some of their brethren in neighbouring churches, that they could not get along in that way, they were soon