Connersville, Ind., Dec. 16, 1879
ELDER BEEBE AND SON: – I see in the SIGNS of the December 15th, 1879, inquiries from Elder Durand in regard to receiving excluded members. I feel like adding one or two more propositions, or questions, to his, in the same figure drawn by Elder Durand.
Suppose the Middletown church, after she had excluded said members, and before they had been received by Waverly church, had been requested by the excluded members to call a council to investigate all the causes of said exclusion, and the church refused to grant the request; did she do right in so refusing? Suppose that after the reception of said excluded members by the Waverly church, the Middletown church should, with the association to which she belongs, ask to open correspondence with the association to which Waverly church belongs; would not that have been the proper time and place to enter her complaint? Or does it look right, that after the acceptance of the correspondence by the association to which Waverly belongs, and said correspondence continuing for eight or ten years in peace and fellowship, for Middletown church to step in and ask the association to which she belongs to withdraw the correspondence granted at her request?
Please give your views and oblige an old reader of the SIGNS, and as I hope, a brother in the church.
W. H. Beck.
The interrogative which brother Beck has stated, taken in connection with the case supported in our last issue by brother Durand, would involve the supposition in a still greater complication, and show more clearly the importance of great care in the transaction of business involving fellowship in our churches and associations.
While we arrogate no more wisdom or prudence to decide the course which should be pursued in such perplexing matters than what we readily concede to our brethren, we give as our impression in regard to the first query of brother Beck, that the Middletown church ought to be competent to judge whether it were proper or expedient to grant her disaffected members her consent to call a council; as a general thing, however, we think it would be advisable, as no church should arbitrarily persist in matters of discipline which she has reason to believe her sister churches in fellowship could not acquiesce in. But should the Middletown or any other church refuse a council, and proceed to exclude, then it is our judgment that neither Waverly nor any other church of the same profession of faith and order should receive the excluded party without the advise of a council of faithful brethren of the sister churches.
On the second question of brother Beck, we think it would be an apparent concession on the part of Middletown church, to ask for and accept of a correspondence and fellowship with an association of which the church which had received her disfellowshiped parties was a member; and that having done so, she has yielded the right to hold the association responsible for the trouble liable to result.
Still it is our conviction that where, through inadvertence or lack of due consideration, brethren, churches or associations have involved themselves in complications which result in dissatisfaction or questionable order the grief of any, the meek, peace-loving spirit of the gospel should be invoked and cherished, so that no root of bitterness be allowed to grow. The law of Christ demands that the strong shall bear the infirmities of the weak, and that which is lame be not turned out of the way, but let it rather be healed.
We are happy to state there is no lack of fellowship between the churches of Middletown and Waverly nor the Warwick and Chemung Associations. The cases on which our views are asked for and given are supposed cases, and our replies are given accordingly.
Elder Gilbert Beebe
Middletown, N. Y.
SIGNS OF THE TIMES
Volume 48, No. 1
January 1, 1880