Dear Brother: I find that my views on the subject of“Controversy,” have not met the approbation of brother Suydam; and I should be very sorry to convey a wound to the feelings of a brother by any remark of mine, or to throw an obstacle in the way of any ones publishing his views on any subject that might tend to strengthen the hands of the brethren, and thus promote the interests of Truth.
In my communication, I did not use the term ordination, but imposition of hands; and I used it not exclusively as used in the ordination of ministers, but in a more general sense, in reference to the reception of members as well as ordination of preachers. But as to the propriety of the practice in either case, I have not given my views, neither do I intend to do so through the Signs without a change of mind on the subject. Our brother S. thinks it a New School measure. I admit that I have known it used by the New School in a manner both absurd and ridiculous. I was once invited, in the incipient stage of New School measures, to attend a missionary meeting on the eve of the departure of two persons for the Cherokee station – the one an ordained minister and the other a school-master. I expected nothing but to meet, pray with and for them, and take a friendly farewell; but, to my astonishment, after the sermon was preached they proceeded to the impose hands on both the already ordained preacher and the school-master.. However, I declined taking part in the ceremony; and am perfectly willing to assign this a place among N. School absurdities.
But as to the subject of Imposition of hands, it did exist as a subject of discussion before the introduction of that system of institutions denominated New School, and which has produced the distinctions of Old and New School Baptists. It is also certain that the question was never definitely settled, but was left with the churches to act as they thought proper on the subject, without affecting their fellowship. The subject was ably, and, I may add, warmly discussed by Dr.’s D. And S. Jones; and, if I am not misinformed, I tended where it began – i.e., without producing any material change in the minds of either party. As this subject existed as a subject of discussion before the present division into Old And New School Baptists, and as it was not considered of sufficient importance by our Old Fashioned brethren to affect their fellowship., I do not view it as coming within the bounds of the controversy between us and the New School. I think I am safe in saying that when the address was prepared and adopted at the Black Rock Meeting, that the subject of imposition of hands did not enter the mind of one present, either as an Old or New School measure. Believing as I do, that the subject does not come within the class of questions between us and the New School, I do not regard it as properly belonging to the controversy in which we are unhappily involved. I regret to find brethren who are disposed to discuss the question, classing it with New School measures, as such a course will produce an unpleasant excitement. I verily believe that there are brethren on both sides of this question, who are equally opposed to all those measures which come under the denomination of New Schoolism. On the subject of feelings, as intimated in your Editorial remarks, I have not had my feelings as an individual, hurt in the least at any thing I have seen on the subject, neither do I expect it, as I do not intend to take any part in the discussion; but my unwillingness to see the discussion protracted, arises from considerations of more importance than my feelings or those of any other individual – I mean the common cause in which we have embarked. If the discussion should lead to any salutary results, such as to produce an accordance in views and uniformity of practice, I shall be happily disappointed, and no one I think will be more disposed to rejoice at such an issue; but if we are to judge of the future from the past, I have no idea of such a result. I do not wish by any thing I have said on the subject, to deny to another what I claim for myself – i.e., a right to think and make known my thoughts; and if brethren are disposed to continue the discussion, and you should feel it your duty to publish, I shall not demur, and if it shall terminate favourably I shall rejoice; but if my anticipations should be realized, I shall only have to share with others to the deep regret that such a result must produce. I leave these remarks at your disposal, and remain
Yours, as ever,
Strickersville, Pa. March 23, 1836
Signs of the Times
Volume 4, No. 11.
May 20, 1836