Muncie, Ind., March 3, 1858.
BROTHER BEEBE: - Permit me hereby to acknowledge the receipt of your favor of the 4th, and also one from brother W. L. Benedict, dated Jan. 14, 1858. They were received just upon the eve of my departure for Ohio, and an absence of between three and four weeks is respectfully tendered as an apology for the delay in my response. The tokens of brotherly love and friendship, together with the information of your very pleasant meetings, and concerning the brethren generally, merit and receive my hearty acknowledgments. From those letters I learn that the church at Warwick, N.Y., which I tried to supply for a time, is still without a pastor, and in them inquiry is made respecting Elder W. Tyler, of Indiana, who, at my request, consented to visit Warwick, in January. It appeared also from said letters that he had not arrived there. I hope that he may have visited them ere now. I wrote him in compliance with the request of brother Benedict, but have not heard from him since. From some reports that I have lately heard, I am induced to hope that brother T. will locate there.
On my leaving Warwick, some of my brethren were apprehensive that my departure in so short a time would make an unfavorable impression abroad, and thereby render the obtaining of a suitable minister a more difficult matter. To obviate such an impression should it occur, I agreed to publish my reasons for leaving, through the SIGNS OF THE TIMES. But in the first place I will observe, that it is due to my brethren and friends at Warwick to say, that their liberality and friendship to me while there, far exceeded my anticipations or deserts. Never did I feel a warmer attachment to a set of friends in so short a time, and I have not words at my command to express my feelings on leaving them; nor am I fully assured that I was justifiable in rending myself from them. One thing I know, and that is, that my absence from them has produced no abatement of my affections toward them. Oft my mind is rambling back amongst them, and were it not for the great distance that intervenes between us, I should often enjoy the happy privilege, as well as the highly appreciated pleasure, of mingling in their society; and here I will observe, that I hesitate not to say that any sound and consistent Old School Baptist preacher, who may desire a location where he would be exonerated in a degree from traveling, would find at Warwick a healthy location, sound and generous brethren in the church, social and liberal friends in the congregation and neighborhood. But all this is not giving the reasons for my departure. It will appear, however, from the foregoing remarks, that if there is a fault in the case it is not chargeable to the brethren and friends at Warwick. Whether or not the same can be said of their unworthy servant, is another matter; nevertheless, I proceed in reference to those reasons.
And first, the circumstances that caused the greater dissatisfaction on my part, was the fact of my laboring so little in the cause of my Master, compared with my former services in the West. It has been our custom since my acquaintance with the ministry here, to make frequent visits among the churches, and to have daily appointments for weeks and even for months. During those perambulations I was not infrequently in the habit of speaking twice a day, as I passed from house to house, and from one church to another; and during these excursions I often witnessed a degree of enjoyment that I could not realize in my isolated situation from my brethren in the ministry, and those among whom we so extensively labored. True, we had many hardships to encounter in thus rambling through a country that was then new, and in many instances difficult to explore, but the joy that characterized our successive meetings offered an antidote for them all; and I have learned, brethren, that associations formed under circumstances where so many trials and joys were commingled, were not to be so abruptly broken up without producing their effect upon my mind. After the loss of my companion, in the spring of 1853, I was in the habit of making many of those tours through our western counties, and although I often doubt the utility of my poor labors, yet it appears to me that if they were worth anything to anybody, my usefulness was much curtailed by being confined to one church, and generally to one or two discourses a week. It therefore frequently occurred to me that I was too idle in the cause of Him who had done (as I hoped) so much for me. This caused me much restlessness during the intervals of our weekly meetings in New York, my native imbecility to the contrary notwithstanding. It often occurs to me that I am worse than a worthless blank in the cause of my Master, but still in that case it would appear that if it was my duty to labor at all, it was an indispensable one to spend and be spent in his service. The old text that used to lurk within and hang upon my mind in my earlier days, ["You that make mention of the Lord keep not silence." Isa. lxii. 6,] would make me occasional visits, but not of the most pleasant kind. Besides all this, the fact of my being of so little service and so considerable an expense to my friends there, was a matter of no small annoyance to me. But again, it seemed necessary that I should have a part of my family with me there, and the separation from my children, and my absence from those I had left at home in the West, were not matters of agreeable consideration. In conclusion, it will appear from the preceding remarks, that I have named three particular reasons for leaving Warwick:
First: An apprehension that I was too idle in the cause of Him whom I profess to serve.
Secondly: That we were more expensive than profitable to our friends there.
Thirdly: The separation of my children, and my consequent absence from a part of them.
After exonerating the brethren and friends at Warwick from any just cause of censure in the case, and freely acknowledging that their deportment towards their feeble and unworthy servant was far better than he deserved, it remains with them and others to say, or judge, whether the reasons in this article amount to a sufficient apology for him. For my own part I am often made to doubt the correctness of my best calculations, as well as my performances based upon them. My first reason may be based upon a chimerical and unjustifiable disposition to ramble; my second may also be fantastical and groundless, while the third may originate in a higher regard for the ties of consanguinity than that holier and indissoluble one which will unite the family of the Most High, when all our earthly bonds will be dissolved. Could I lay aside my roving, restless disposition, and enjoy the happiness of a domestic fireside, as I have done in days that are past; were I assured that my services would be acceptable and profitable there, and were my family so situated that I could feel assured that prudence would dictate such a movement, I should expect to find at Warwick as pleasant a home, and as agreeable society as at any other place in the range of my acquaintance. That the Lord may send them a pastor of his own choosing, one that will feed them with knowledge, is the sincere desire of their brother and servant,
J. F. JOHNSON.