A narratives of the facts connected with the separation of the writer from the congregation meeting in Ebrington Street/Introduction

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The following narrative, though constantly demanded by brethren, would have never seen the light, had the work which occasioned the separation, been confined to Plymouth, or its activity ceased. No desire of clearing up one’s own grounds of conduct has influenced me, nor would such have induced me to publish any account of what passed. The best proof is that in a lapse of a year it had not. But convinced as I am that it is a work of Satan which has developed itself here, and finding that, as Mr. Newton announced that he would seek to produce everywhere “united hostility” to the brethren who differed from him, the same system at present is carrying on elsewhere to propagate the work, and believing that many true hearted saints become unconsciously instruments of this, I have thought well that they should be apprized of what passed. The argument alleged against such an account would be the scandal of it. But that exists in the division already. The knowing the grounds of it will rather take it away. For it is a very serious thing indeed to separate from Christians, and indeed the saints have, in some sort, a right to know why it has been done. It may be very humbling to the saints concerned ; but I do not think this is an evil. The strongest motive by far; the one which weighed with me ; was the dislike of publishing evil. I never should have done it, but left it to the Lord, had the trouble occasioned by it stopped the activity of the evil. What overcame this motive with me was, that there was just as much activity as before in the evil, and the same unblushing unscrupulousness as to truth. It may perhaps be thought that I have exaggerated in this account. Far from it. None of the facts which did not enter into the public course of events are mentioned, though as numerous and in my judgment as grave or graver than what is here stated: and not only so, but were not similar facts now going on, which are not alluded to here, I should never have published these. Another motive might act, that is, the general discredit thrown on the brethren. But this must yield before duty to souls. I have never seen one who got into the active influence of the system, whose moral integrity was not ruined. Besides, I believe that this system had so puffed up the brethren, and worldliness had so crept in, that such discipline as God has sent us, it is only our part to bow under. Indeed the present influence of the spirit of the world is such in the system which has driven me out, that, unless the Lord corrected it, I should be thankful to be entirely free from it. Lastly, I do not expect to escape what Sir A. Campbell, Mr. Wigram, and others have been subjected to, that is, to have all my statements denied. I expect it. But this is no reason with me for not informing brethren if this latter be a duty. It cannot last long this. It is possible that in a narrative extending over a year and a half, embracing many people, and even places, some inaccuracy of detail which may occasion cavil, may have escaped me. I have given too many names not to give the fullest opportunity of confirmation or correction, indeed always save where charity demanded their suppression, or in the case of females. Engaged in such a business I had no need to conceal those of brethren. They must take their share when they acted in public. There is nothing here of which I am not assured of my own knowledge, or which were public facts before all, or facts stated already in print by others, or with the authors’ names with some few exceptions; in a word, nothing of the truth of which, I am not thoroughly satisfied. At all events, what is here related is with other facts that which has led me into the position I am in; and I give them as substantially a thoroughly authentic and true narrative of what has passed. I have only to add, that the ground of evil doctrine or teaching, and the unsettling the souls of saints on every thing precious, and even vital, is acquiring every day very greatly increased weight in my mind. This from its subtle and fleeting character, though conclusive with me, is more difficult to give. Some specimens however are here. The “Examination” of the “Thoughts” give many though on less important points. I may add one here from a tract sold in the tract shop. It is there taught that the wicked will rise with their diseased bodies ; as that a man that had the palsy would keep it for ever, they would receive again their corrupt and sin worn bodies, in all their wretchedness. This is addressed in a gospel tract to the careless. This tract is printed in London, but it was sold at Plymouth, in the depôt, nor have I any doubt of its origin. I have communicated this narrative to others, to take all the care I can, that it should be perfectly true, I give no names, as I feel in such a case it is the juster way to let it rest on my own responsibility. I add here one or two corrections resulting therefrom.

P. 12. I have what I believe to be a correct statement of the meetings Mr. N. attended. He did not attend 1834, 1835, but he was at 1836; that is, I believe, the last Irish meeting. He did not attend London or Liverpool; that is the two last English.

17. Heretic was too good a name. Though I have a perfect recollection of these words being used. Yet, as being in animated conversation, and a general representation, it is desired to correct this by saying that what Irish brethren held and taught was spoken of as heresy.

20. This confirmation by Mr. Hill does not apply to the words “educated gentleman,” but the general idea that God now made use of talent and worked by it, and, as he apprehended it, not in uneducated persons: and these statements of Mr. N. were commonly current at that time.

26. Lest the note should identify unduly this name with Mr. Newton, it may be right to state that the name was given to the upper (not the back) room as much through Mr. Harris’ use of it for the purpose as Mr. Newton’s. Mr. Soltau went down as well as Mr. Harris. He stated in the conversation that they were not acting on the principles they began upon: if they were he should leave. At Exmouth this departure from original principles was avowed by one brother distinctly.

27. “London brethren” should be a London brother. As to the letters only one, which was the material one, was taken about by Mr. N. The word furnish is merely meant to convey the fact of their communication.

39. It is objected that the statement as to Mr. W. Haydon’s letter is rather too strong; that he blamed my act as being rather a dissenter’s principle to bring it before the whole assembly.

43. The meeting held after Mr. Harris’s return, at which he explained his reasons for ceasing to minister, was at the instance of other brethren, not at the suggestion of Mr. Harris.

47. I am warned that the beginning of the page might seem to say that they did not break bread at all. This is not at all the meaning. “Any longer,” refers to after their investigation of the matter which gives it indeed its whole importance.

The reader will kindly efface, at line 7 from the bottom of the page, from “Any longer,” to “from it.” The circumstance alluded to, does not properly connect itself with this point.

51. It is suggested that I should insert that I lodged in the house. Mr. Mc Adam was not, however, with me, but in Mr. Harris’s apartment. Suspicious quarters may be corrected by “renders you liable to suspicion.” Mr. Newton’s friends who had come, were guests among his friends at Plymouth, which no one of course thought of calling in question, nor would it be noticed now but for the insertion of this correction, as explaining the force of the remark.

51. 2nd par. At the moment of this meeting Sir. A. C . was not, I believe, in Plymouth.

52. Dele “one of,” and read simply “the charges.”

55. The last two lines are to be omitted. They are only an imperfect repetition of the preceding.

64. Mr. Harris remonstrated with others, and spoke very strongly about this teaching, but I cannot confirm the fact that he spoke directly to Mr. N. I give the statement therefore as to the remonstrance merely as I heard it just after, of which I have an absolute certainty. The fact of the teaching is unquestionable. I will add here the ground on which it was based, Christ’s prayer could not but have been answered, hence he could have asked it only for the apostles in their time. That we have the heavenly blessing in this respect. They had the heavenly and earthly. It will be seen how entirely this confirms what is stated as to the assertions made as to unity in the letter of the five to the London brethren commented on.

69. The reason first given for not attending one of the more private meetings was somewhat different. This brother felt himself out of his place there, subsequently he ceased attending the more public meeting on the ground stated. The material fact however was stronger rather than stated here, that unless he received Mr. N.’s views his ministry would not be received here or in the meetings around.

70. For sufficiently made up, read sufficiently instructed.

This is all that I can find to correct in what follows. It is of course possible that something may have escaped me.

I add another mark of the enemy’s work. It is this. Where there is the sudden reception of a whole system, and the authority of the author of it set up at once over the mind. When truth is received into the soul by the Spirit, it is received and engrafted by God, so that, though a blessed door may be opened by any given truth, we are built up truth by truth, each being wrought into the soul so that there is faith in it, and the consciousness of God’s teaching us that, and the instrument of it if any is not between us and God as to it, though inspired teachers were of course an authority. In the case stated the mind is at once shut up into the system, and real progress in divine truth is entirely arrested. The consequences of having thus taken a system of error for truth is often most deplorable for the whole life, even if the person be delivered from it.

The reader will find another example of the unsettling the soul as to fundamental truths in the confusion between the life communicated to the saint and the divine nature in Christ. Thus: “But did Jesus think that the Life which was in Him, and which He communicated to others, was not heavenly? Did he not Himself say, “The Son of Man which is in heaven? Were they (the angels) ignorant of the existence of a life in earth, which they had known in the excellence of its own uncreated glory above? ........ Were they ignorant that this life had, through the Son been communicated to persons chosen from among sinful men.“ See pp. 28, 29, of Answer to Second Letter. I have felt unable, having re-read this narrative after the corrections, to detect any inaccuracy. The expression “he will catch it“ (p. 41), my memory is so vague as to, that I could not pretend to give it as the word used. But this perusal has made me feel that such a publication of evil would be entirely unjustifiable, and evil in itself, had I not the conviction the solemn settled conviction, not I believe led to it of man, that there is an active positive work of the enemy going on. That conviction I have. I do not publish it to justify myself. For in my own judgment it does the contrary. I feel, as I have stated in the body of the narrative, that I failed in spiritual energy, through human feeling, in letting the matter drop in April at the instance of others. I hesitated as to my own being spiritual enough to do it in public then, though I had acquiesced in doing it in private. If it be asked why I do it in a worse way now, I answer it became a public duty to the saints, cost me what it would. And I do not expect to meddle with such evil without its costing me something.

I have had, in journeys I have made since I wrote this account, abundant confirmation as to the doctrine taught, and other points.