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South-hill, Bradford Co., Pa., March 25, 1840

DEAR BROTHER BEEBE: – As Eld. Henry Curtis has begun to publish a correspondence between him and myself, and has not gone through with it; leaving out my last to him, which was the only one that I had ever sent him of much length or magnitude, though I am persuaded that he had received it before he published his, by a reference in his publication. I wish if you are willing, that you would publish in the Signs as early as convenient the following.

Hezekiah West, to Eld. Henry Curtis. – Your favor dated Sept. 8, 1839, arrived safe, when I was from home; but was safely kept until I arrived, which when I had read I was pleased about it. I was pleased that you had written. I was pleased that you wrote so frank, and told me what you thought “objectionable” in mine; I was pleased that you appeared so free to tell what you thought about men, and things; I was pleased with the liberty you gave me therein, and I shall doubtless use it at discretion. And I doubtless should be pleased, if you would write as freely to me again. I shall not complain to you of any indecorum in your epistle towards me, or my precious brethren, provided you believe all that you have written. Some things there are to be sure, which I do not think as you do about; but I will not accuse you of being ill-bred, or uncivil for frankly expressing your views of our character or conduct. I have so much rusticity about me, that I love to see men speak or write with boldness, what they believe. IN our country the white population enjoy equal rights; as to the freedom of speech, or the press. And have the liberty to speak, write or print what they think proper; holding themselves amenable therefore. If they write or print anonymously, I am apt to think it is either because they are ashamed, or afraid to meet an opponent on the subject. But I may be mistaken. If a man believes that which is not true, let him be frank and open to conviction, and vindicate his position as well as he can until he is fairly convinced by the force of evidence. So while you believe the opposers of the present popular mission system, “schismatical” and possessing or following an “unholy spirit,” stick to it like a man; point it out, bring forward the testimony that satisfies you it is so, let them hear from the good book, the testimony of God, by the apostles and prophets where you get authority for your practice. If you do really believe that the men you have named, viz: Gilbert Beebe, Gabriel Conklin, Daniel Robinson, William Huse and Hezekiah West are guilty of that with which you charged them, and have “crept in unawares” are “Opposers of that which is good, seeking to build themselves up by pulling others down. – Troublers to Israel, men who lie in wait to deceive.” I say, if you do really believe that these men are guilty of the charges you have so politely brought against them; I call upon you to “Produce your cause, bring forth your strong reasons.” Bring from the bible sufficient testimony to establish the charge, while they have the privilege to answer for themselves. Or, as my name is among them; if you would choose it in single combat with a rustic, I challenge you to write with me on the subject; and show me from the scriptures authority for the present popular mission sentiment and practice, which I am opposing. And let me examine the subject, and answer my part, and show from that holy book my reasons for dissenting from the popular sentiment and practice. Let us come fairly at the charge which you have stated. Now do not flinch, nor back out, but try with your pen to prove the men which you have named, are “schismatical;” and that the “anti-missionary spirit” is an “unholy spirit.” And then read my defence, which I will, (if the Lord will) make against the mighty bulwark which you raise. And I engage if you convince me of my error, that I will retract for my wrong, and if I live to have opportunity will join the missionary army. And if I think that I cannot answer your arguments, though not convinced I will acknowledge your superior skill in debating. Now if you comply with, and accept my challenge, write what you believe that your work may be straight, so that I can understand you better than I can some part of what you have already written, – wherein you say, “I would inform you that I shall make no such attempt to clear myself from the charge.” And then you go directly forward in the attempt which you say you shall not make. And you occupy more than one whole page of your letter in the attempt. Had you not have told me that you should “make no such attempt,” I should have thought that you had done better at it than I expected. But how shall I understand the man that says, “I would inform you that I shall make no such attempt to clear myself from the charge,” &c. When the next scratch of his pen commences the very attempt. I cannot understand both to be truth, which shall I believe? Can you help me in the matter? and oblige your fellow citizen.


Done at Orwell, Bradford
Co., Pa., Oct.
28, 1839.

I have had no answer yet. H.W.

Signs of the Times
Volume 8, No. 10.
May 15, 1840