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XXXVII. A Statement of Pro. viduals, but of Christian order
ceedings in the First Society in and church discipline, we deem Coventry, Connecticut, which it our duty to submit to the conterminated in the removal of sideration of our readers a fair the Pastor; with an address to statement of the principal facts his late people. By ABIEL AB. and arguments in the case, and to BOT, late Pastor of the First add such remarks as appear to Church in Coventry. Boston; us worthy of particular atten.
John Eliot, jun. 1811, pp. 68. tion. In giving a history of the Reply to Mr. Abbot's Statement Proceedings, &c. relative to Mr.
of Proceedings in the First So- A., we shall first give an abstract ciety in Coventry, Connecticut. of his pamphlet, then of the ReBy The ASSOCIATION OF Tol- ply, and lastly of the doings of LAND Countr. Hartford; Pe- the General Association of Conter B. Gleason & Co. 1812. necticut on the subject.
Let us attend, first, to the Proceedings of the General A880- case, as it would appear from
ciation of Connecticut, June, the Statement of Mr. A. 1812. Hartford; Peter B. The Rev. Abiel Abbot was Gleason & Co. pp. 36. ordained to the pastoral office,
over the first church and society The subject of which the two in the town of Coventry, county first of these pamphlets treat, of Tolland, (Conn.) in Oct. 1795, and which occupies a large por- with unanimity in the church tion of the third, has excited, in and society. Little dissatisface Massachusetts and Connecticut, tion with his opinions was mani. a considerable attention among fested, except by a very few of those who feel interested in the his church, before Feb. 1810, ecclesi.istical affairs of New Eng- 'when most of the brethren met land. We have been repeatedly at his house to inquire and to urged to lay before the public converse concerning his opinthe case here disclosed; but, as ions. After some conversation, controversies of this kind are (a part of which is given, p. 4) attended with many unpleasant Mr. A. observed, that there was circumstances, we have hitherto a difference between him and declined the employment. Per- some, if not all, the church, and ceiving, however, that much un- perhaps of the society also, on merited obloquy has been cast points in their view fundamental. upon the great body of con He expressed a willingness, gregational clergy in Connecti- therefore, that his pastoral recut, on account of the decision lation should be dissolved. They pronounced, in the case of Mr. replied, that they wished nothAbbot, by the Consociation in ing done rashly, and that “except Tolland County; and that gross what arose from this difference misrepresentations are circulated of opinion, they had no desire to the prejudice, not only of indi- that the connexion should be
dissolved." In June, the same the complaint of the church, read parties had another interview, and presented a protest. In this the result of which was not satis- document he denies the author. factory. In Sept., Mr. A. re. ity of the elders and messengers ceived a written request “to warn there convened, for the following a church-meeting, to consider reasons: 1. Because an impartial and resolve on proper measures mutual council had not been of. to be adopted and pursued under fered to him. 2. Because the the present difficulties.' The council then in session was not church met on the 13th, and Mr. a regular consociation, empowA. made "some observations ered according to the Saybrook with a view to conciliate the platform, to hear the complaint minds of the brethren.” They against him. Under this head proceeded, however, to express Mr. A. labors to prove, that by vote, their belief of several there is no Consociation in Tol. doctrines; and determined that, land county, that the first church as their pastor neither preached in Coventry does not belong to nor believed these doctrines, it it, even if it exists, and that, was expedient to apply to the should both these points be Association of ministers in the yielded, Mr. A. himself does not county of Tolland for advice. belong to it. 3. Because counEarly in October, the church cils have no authority in matters was advised “by the Association of faith. Mr. A. dwells much to take proper measures for con. and earnestly on the opinion, vening the council of the conso. that the Scriptures elone are the ciated churches in the county
h; and proves undeof Tolland.” With this advice niably, if it needed any proof, the church complied, and re- that the framers of the Saybrook quested the society to unite with Platform were of the same opin. them in calling the Consociation. ion. The protest of Mr. A. ocThe society declined; but pro- cupies fourteen pages. It is posed a mutual Council. To followed by a protest, signed by this proposal the church con the society committee, which resented, provided they could a- lies upon the same arguments gree with Mr. A. in a Council. as had been stated at greater The committee of the church length by Mr. A., expresses the met Mr. A. on the 27th of No. attachment of a majority of the vember to agree on a council; society to their minister, and and again on the 30th for the displays the evils which in their same purpose, when a majority opinion, would take place in conof the committee refused a mutual sequence of his removal. The touncil. The church afterwards question, Whether this body have offered a mutual council for the jurisdiction as a council of consopurpose of dissolving the pasto- ciated churches? was amply dis-, ral connexion by consent.
The cussed, and the council proceedsociety objected. These nego. ed 10 vote that they were “duly tiations all failing of their object, convened and authorized to try the Consociation met at Coven- the complaint before them.” try, April 16th, 1811, Mr. A.,
Mr. A., being called upon being called upon to answer to again to answer to the complaint,
informed the council that he
“Mr. Abbot having read, then pre. should abide by his protest; and,
sented to this body an address, de.
nying the jurisdiction of this counof course, remained silent as to the articles of charge. The ting in judgment upon the complaint
cil, and protesting against their sit. council proceeded to consider against him. the complaint, and heard the tes. “The society also by their commit. timony adduced by the church, tee, presented an instrument of the and the remarks made by their
same purport, which was read. advocate. As the proceedings baving been denied, the subject was
"The authority of the Consociation had excited some emotion, it was largely argued by the counsel both of proposed by the advocate of Mr. Mr. Abbot and of the church. A., that the council should wave
“The council then proceeded to a a decision, and give opportunity offered. The question was then put
full deliberation upon the arguments to unite in a mutual council. Mr. by the moderator, Do this council A renewed to the church the consider themselves duly convened proposal for a mutual council; and authorized to try the complaint this effort failed of success, and, before them? Voted in the affirmauve. on the next day, the result of the
“The elders and messengers pres.
ent feel themselves justified and supConsociation was published. The Consociation was composed of the articles of church discipline unan.
ported in the foregoing decision by nine pastors of churches in the imously agreed upon by the elders of county of Tolland, and eleven all the churches of Connecticut condelegates. After the regular vened at Saybrook, Sept. 9, 1708; the opening of the Consociation, the
same having been adopted by prac.
tice and consent of the churches in proceedings were as follows:
this county; and for that, this Conso. “The church laid before this body ciation is convoked conformably to a complaint, containing the following the 13th article thereof, and agreeably articles of charge against their pas. to the usage of the churches in this tor, viz.
state; and, as we believe, agreeably “That he, the Rev. Abiel Abbot, to the mind and will of Christ; and, does neither preach_nor believe the for that no other method of adminis. sacred Trinity of Father, Son, and tering church discipline has been Holy Ghost in the Godhead.
adopted among our churches in cases "That he does neither preach, nor like the one under consideration; nor believe in the divinity of Jesus Christ; can we resort to any other, under the that he is both God and man united present organization of our churches, in the person of Mediator.
where the parties cannot, or will not, “That he does neither preach nor mutually submit their difficulties. believe the doctrine of the atonement “The Rev. Mr. Abbot was then made for sin by the blood of Christ, called upon to answer to the comand of the justification of sinners by plaint exhibited against him by the the righteousness of Christ, imputed church, but he neglected and refused to them and received by faith in him, to make answer to the same.
“The foregoing doctrines, though “The council then proceeded to clearly revealed in the word of God, bear the testimony produced by the as not only true, but fundamental in church in support of the articles of the Gospel system, and essential to charge. After a full and patient be believed in order to salvation, are hearing and consideration of the case, by him omitted in his preaching: and the question was put upon each artidoctrines contrary to these, and re cle separately, Is this article proved? pugnant to the faith once delivered to
Voted it is proved. the saints by Christ and his apostles, “The general question was then put, and subversive of the Christian's Is the Rev. Abiel Abbot guilty of the hope are byhim taught and inculcated.
facts alleged in the complaint of the Mr. A. next proceeds, in his church against him? Voted unani. pamphlet, to animadvert upon mously in the affirmative.
"Voted, That the man who neither the above resuit; but what we believes, nor preaches the doctrines have to say, on this part of the specified in the articles of charge, is subject, will be reserved to a disqualified for the office of the Gos- subsequent page. He then states pel ministry; for he has essentially the circumstances which were renounced the Scriptures, has made regarded in the selection of the shipwreck of the faith once delivered to the saints, has denied the Messiah
second council, and says, “I need of the Gospel, who is the true God only add, that with the majority and eternal life, and cannot preach to
of the council I had little person• sinners, according to the real mean. al acquaintance, and NO knowl. ing of Scripture, Jesus Christ and edge of their opinion with resLim crucified, who is the only way of salvation, nor feed the church of pect to my religious sentiments God, which he has purchased with
or particular difficulties." We his own blood.
cannot refrain from breaking in “The council therefore feel them. pon our narration here, to exselves required by Jesus Christ, the press our astonishment at the great God and Savior, on the peril of assertion contained in the senbeing judged unfaithful to him, to his tence just quoted; an assertion church, and the best interests of the society in this place, to declare, and
at which every reader of these they bereby declare, that the minis. pamphlets will be likewise asterial relation between the Rev. Abiel tonished; an assertion which exAbbot and the first church of Christ cites almost as much wonder, as in Coventry ought to be, and is dis. that a minister should preach solved. And they do hereby also retake the commission given to him by thirteen years, so as to make his his ordination to preach the Gospe people think he was a believer and administer the ordinances of the in the doctrine of the Trinity,
while it is not pretended that "The council add, that having giv. even from the first he had ever en full weight to every thing brought embraced that doctrine. before them, it is with pain they have found themselves under the necessity from the Rev. Dr. Osgood, on
Mr. A. next publishes a letter of performing this indispensable dury. "By unanimous order of the Con. which we shall presently make
a single remark. Signed, N. Williams, Moderator. This second council met at Allest, Amos Bassett, Scribe.” Coventry on the 5th of June, Statement, pp. 27-29.
1811. Mr. A. and the society On the publication of the re laid such documents before this sult
, the Consociation and the body, and made such representakhurch were informed, that Mr. tions, as they thought proper, A. and the society had determine the church being notified, by a ed to convene a mutual council. message in writing to the dea. T'he churches from which a mu cons, that the council was in ses. tual council should be called sion, and would be happy to rewere immediately agreed upon, ceive such communications, as and the letters missive issued. the church might be disposed to In the meantime, Mr. A. contin- make. No reply was made to ued to discharge the duty of a this message, the church having minister as before.
previously signified to Mr. A. Vol. V. New Series.
that they considered the second Mr Abbot is sincere in the following council ás being unauthorized solemn declaration, and that it ought and improper: Seven pastors to be satisfactory.”
to be satisfactory,” Star. pp. 43, 44. of churches in Massachusetts, and three delegates, composed claration offered by Mr. A, con
Here the Council insert a dethis council
. On the next day, taining several passages of Scripthe Result of Council was pub- ture relative to the doctrines lished, the most material parts concerning which he had been of which we quote.
condemned by the Consociation, “The council have, as they trust, and an acknowledgment of the attended with seriousness and impar. Scriptures as divine truth. To tiality to the statements and pleas of this paper they add some reathe parties at whose instance they soning of their own, and proceed: are convened. They lament the di. visions which have arisen between "The council consider the relation the church on one side, and the between the pastor and this ecclesipastor and congregation on the other. astical society as not having been an. It is with extreme reluctance that nulled; and the parties having sub. the council are constrained to give an mitted the expediency of its continua opinion which will militate with the arice to this council, we do therefore result of the venerable council, com adjudge that the relation between posed of elders and messengers of the them be dissolved for the reasons churches of Tolland county, recently which follow.": Statement, p. 45. Convoked in this place; but as it be. comes necessary that they should de The reasons specified all reoide on questions submitied to their late to the improbability, that deliberation, propriety requires that Mr. A. could be useful in that they give the reasons of their decision.
"The council find no satisfactory place, on account of the divisions evidence that a Consociation ever ex
which existed. isted in Tolland county, according to
The Council give Mr Abbot Saybrook platform. If a Consociation a very high character, and cordid exist, they find no evidence, that dially recommend him to all the first church in Coventry or its "Christian Societies pastor were ever constituent parts it; and as the Rev. Mr. Abbot and the whom he may in divine Provi ecclesiastical society declined acting dence be called to minister." with this church in calling the la:e
After the whole "extraordi. council, and protested against its ju. nary narrative," as Mr. A. justly risdiction, we can consider it only in
calls it, he proceeds to offer å the light of an ex parte council; and as the not having of a mutual council few remarks, part of which he as the umpire of their controversy
directs to the members of the must in our opinion be imputed to the Consociation. He concludes by church, the result of said courcil can. an address to the people of his not affect the ministerial standing of late charge. the Rev. Mr. Abbot, much less dis.
The appendix contains a long solve the pastoral relation between him and this people,
extract from a Discourse On “Concerning the doctrinal points Christian Union by President which are the only articles of charge Stiles, and the Articles of church alleged against úr. Abbot we will discipline agreed upon at Say. not decide, in the persuasion that the brook, 1708. Great Head of the church never em. powered any body of men to pro abstract of the Reply. This docu.
We now proceed to make an nounce authoritatively respecting re. ligious opinions. We believe that ment, it will be remembered,