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yet Mr. Dana, refuses to do it! He had rather run the venture of all consequences, than to be exainined by them! The town may break, himself be deposed, and non-communion be declared against him and his party: but let it cost what it will, he is resolved he will not be examined by them ! But why? He knew the consociation must approve him as oro thodox, if he appeared to believe our Confession of Faith. And thus the whole controversy might have been settled in an hour or two; which now is not likely to be settled these many years. · And he knew it was no matter whether the consociation bad jurisdiction or not, if both he and his opposers would agree to submit the affair to them. But he was resolved not to do it: and why all this, if he was a sound believer, I cannot conceive .
Nor is this all : for he bas, since these things, even introduced a new method of taking persons into full communion with the church. A method, wbich, however suited to the latitudinarian scheme, yet is entirely subversive of the very founda.. tion on which all our churches in New-England were originally settled. To be sure it appears so to“ me; and because I would fajn know your opinion of it, I will relate the case, and state three questions for
you to answer, in your next letter to your friend Paulinus. The case is this; the first church in Wallingford, under the Rev. Mr. Street, their first minister, were formed a Calvinistic church. The doctrines of faith which they drew up, to be used in the admission of members, were strictly Calvinistic. This form has been used, in that church ever since, in the admission of members. Their former ministers, having publicly read it before all the congregation, used to say to the persons to be admitted, these articles of the Christian faith you give your assent unto. Instead of which, Mr. Dana, their present minister, (if he may be so called after deposition,) says, “ These articles of the Christian faith you give your assent unto, so far as you think them agreeable to the word of God.” My three questions are these.
Qliest. I. Does Mr. Dana, or his church, by such a profession as above, know what principles persons pretend to be of, whom they thus admit to special ordinances? Can they,
o For the facts above, the roader is referred to Mr. Eell's Remarks, &c.
by such a profession, know, whether they mean to be Papists, or Protestants, Socinians, Arians, Pelagians, Arminians or Antinomians? If they can, pray tell me how ? For all these different denominations believe, and may profess to believe, these Calvinistic articles of faith, so far as they think them to be agreeable to the word of God.
But if by this profession you grant Mr. Dana, and his charch, cannot form any proper judgment of the principles of those who are thus admitted, whether they are Papists, or Protestants, Socinians, Arians, &c. I would inquire,
Quest. II. Are Papists, Socinians, Arians, &c. all of them orthodox enough to be admited to sealing ordinances ? If not
Quest. III. How can Mr. Dana's conduct, in this affair, be vindicated, who receives members upon a profession, which any heretic in the Christian world can make, and still retain all his errors ?
Will it do to say, in his excuse, That some of his church are attached to the Calvinistic scheme in which they have been educated ; and will be offended if he lays aside their old doctrines of faith, and makes a new creed of a different stamp: and perhaps they may leave him, and join with those who have already rejected him. If he should discover his peculiar principles so plainly, perhaps he would soon have but few hearers. And so this will not do." And it is right to
. dissemble a little in so good a cause.” And besides, if he himself does not believe their doctrines of faith, it is a hardship, to oblige him to lead his people, from time to time, 10 profess, in the most public and solemn manner, their belief of them; and to keep back such from special ordinances, who scruple to make such a profession. To prevent all which difficulties, he first reads over their old doctrines of faith, for a blind to the Calvinist part of his church ; and then he expresses himself so, as to leave those whom he admits, at full liberty to believe what they please, and yet be quite orthodox enough at the same time to be admitted into the church of Christ, as his true and faithful followers.' But if this be the case, does not one of our former questions need to be reconsidered, viz. Is it of any importance what men's principles be, if their lives are but good ? For if indeed it is of nu importance, and if pious frauds are justifiable ; tben we may all do as Mr. Dana does. But if it is of importance, and if we must pot dissemble, how can bis conduct be justified ? Or, how can any orthodox churcia in New-England safely receive members, by virtue of a recommendation from his church, as being sound in the faith, when it is not known what their faith is ?
A speedy and full answer to these questions will greatly oblige, Sir, your already very much obliged,
And look that thod make them after their Pattern, which was shewed thee in the Mount.
JEHOVAH. Teaching them to observe all things whatsoevor I have commanded you : And, lo, I am with you.